(Updated 4/20/00)

SENYA - Original Roots Dawta

(You'll need a RealAudio Player for the crucial sounds below.)

Olive “Senya” Grant is a gifted/songwriter/performer hailing from east Kingston, Jamaica, the roots reggae capitol of the world. Blessed with a beautifully melodic voice and fused with the eternal grass roots spirit of social consciousness, struggle and perseverance; her musical development began when she was quite young in the early 1970s under the tutelage and guidance of her mentor, the seminal and legendary Hippy Boys, Upsetters and Wailers bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett. Previously she could be found with her demo tape at Harry J’s studio, trying to catch the ear of a producer who would record her, but they ignorantly thought that her songs contained too many references to JAH. …But, it was precisely that heavy vibration that caught the attention of Bunny “Jah B” Wailer, who brought her to Family Man.

After being schooled for some time in the rootical foundation of the music, Senya entered Randy’s studio in 1974 with producers Family Man and Clive Chin backed by the Wailers band. In the sessions that resulted she eloquently echoed the haunting voices of the oppressed in songs such as “Oh Jah Come”(hear the dub) and “Children Of The Ghetto”.

Soon after the historical One Love Peace Concert in 1978, where Senya personally witnessed the legendary performances of Peter Tosh and Bob Marley, she pricked the consciousness of many black brothers to truly know themselves in “Roots Man”.

In 1979-80, when Bob Marley installed a recording studio inside Tuff Gong, previously known as Island House, at 56 Hope Road, Senya and Family Man recorded “Natural Woman” and re-recorded “Children Of The Ghetto” to test the new equipment. “Natural Woman”, while expressing her personal stance, also urges all women to build their lives on the rock of naturality, not the sinking sand of superficial vanity. These two recordings were releases on the “Fams”-produced, and very rare, “Juvenile Delinquent” album, which was well received and set the stage for expectations of things to come.

During this time she performed on many Tuff Gong stage show productions around the island. Although not included in the video or album release, her first major performance was opening the Tuff Gong segment of the 1981 Reggae Sunsplash: Tribute To Bob Marley. Fortunately she took the stage briefly during the Wailers band performance of “One Drop” which was included as the last song on the video. The next few years saw her recording “Show Some Love”, produced by Jimmy Cliff on his Oneness label and “Trying Woman” on a Robert French pressing. Also, making her international debut, Senya sang backing voclas on the reknowned album “Jerusalem” by Alpha Blondy & The Wailers. Since then she has gone from strength to strength while maintaining her roots and culture. Her affinity with the voiceless is very much reflective of her personal journey through life and firmly anchors her in reality.

During the latter part of the ‘90s, she was the head of the backing vocals group that toured the world with the Wailers band for about three years. Her inspired and powerful performance was brought to cities throughout Europe, the USA, Canada, Brazil and the South Pacific including Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti and New Caledonia, gaining her immeasurable experience in the process.

Filling in the gaps between all these recording and performance dates, she worked for the Reggae Sunsplash organization performing various administrative duties behind the scenes for roughly 16 years. She managed a restaurant 7 days a weeks for many years. Senya has also been and is still involved in the organizing and performance of many local community charity events in Kingston. Amazingly, in the midst of all of this she raised a family, surely making her one of the hardest working women in the business.

To date she can be found on these various compilation releases:

She has also written many more songs. Her music is pulsating, imaginative, and spiritually intoxicating in the glorious tradition of the Wailers. If you listen carefully now……………………….you will hear.

Unfortunately, on the morning of April 19th, 2001 Senya passed away under tragic circumstances... (more to follow)

( Funeral to be held 5/6/01 inna Jamdown )

For information on how to contact or assist the family please call
(949) 366-1814 or (876) 978-0229


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