b. Della Magnus, Drumblair, Jamaica, West Indies. Folk singer-songwriter Della Manley, the daughter of a dentist, moved from Montego Bay to Canada when she was 15 years old. By that time she had extensively studied piano, guitar and singing, regularly appearing in her local Catholic school choir. However, in Canada it was only when she attended York University and ‘took part in Latin American and Caribbean cultural activities’ that she rediscovered her musical gifts. Aged 19 she married Joseph Manley, son of late Jamaican prime minister Michael Manley. They immediately relocated to Cuba for four years, where she studied at the University Of Havana and shaped her own songs for the first time. She persevered with her singing career entering and winning the Best Female Vocalist award for three successive years. She returned to Jamaica in 1983 and served a long apprenticeship performing low-key sets in front of small audiences in Kingston. Michael Manley sent a demo of her song ‘Ashes On The Window Sill’ (about the US invasion of Grenada) to a number of music industry contacts, with little success. Eventually she came to the attention of Lou Adler, who had signed a recording contract with reggae group Native (founded by Manley’s cousins Brian and Wayne Jobson). In the event, Della merely contributed backing vocals to the resultant album. In 1997 she finally completed her debut album, some of it recorded at Nyumbani, Michael Manley’s hillside retreat. As well as the title track, there was a version of Silvio Rodrigues’ Cuban classic, ‘Te Amare’, and the forthright, contentious ‘City Lights’. Musicologist and DJ Dermott Hussey started to play tracks on his ‘Musically Speaking’ radio show. Although the 10 softly rendered efforts on Ashes On The Window Sill bore little musical similarity to reggae, Manley attested to a fondness for both Bob Marley and Peter Tosh. Her other influences were not so hard to detect, Joan Armatrading, Carly Simon, Cat Stevens, and Joni Mitchell among them. As a lyricist, Manley also acknowledged a special debt to Janis Ian, whom she had first heard when she arrived in Canada.~ Rovi
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... read moreb. Della Magnus, Drumblair, Jamaica, West Indies. Folk singer-songwriter Della Manley, the daughter of a dentist, moved from Montego Bay to Canada when she was 15 years old. By that time she had extensively studied piano, guitar and singing, regularly appearing in her local Catholic school choir...