Janet Kay is a pioneering British reggae singer and songwriter who has made an indelible impact on the music scene since the 1970s. Born on January 17, 1958, in London, England, Kay’s love for music was fostered from a young age by her Jamaican parents, who exposed her to the sounds of reggae, soul, and gospel music. She started singing in her local church choir, and her talent soon caught the attention of music producers and record labels.
Kay’s breakthrough came in 1979 with her hit single “Silly Games”, which was a cover of the Studio One track by the group the Techniques. The song, which she recorded at the age of 20, became an instant classic and topped the UK charts, making her the first black British female artist to achieve such a feat. “Silly Games” has since become one of the most beloved and enduring reggae songs of all time, and it cemented Kay’s place in the annals of music history.
Kay’s success with “Silly Games” opened doors for her, and she went on to release several other hits in the 1980s, including “Loving You”, “That’s What Friends Are For”, and “I Do Love You”. Her music blended the sounds of reggae, soul, and pop, and her smooth, soulful voice and captivating stage presence made her a fan favorite both in the UK and internationally. She also collaborated with other artists such as Dennis Bovell, Aswad, and Carroll Thompson, and she performed on tours and festivals across the world.
Aside from her music career, Kay has also made an impact in other areas. She was one of the first black presenters on British television and radio, and she hosted her own program, “The Janet Kay Show”, on Choice FM. She also co-presented the Channel 4 TV series “Club Mix” and made guest appearances on other shows, including the BBC’s “Children in Need” telethon.
Kay’s contributions to the music industry have been recognized over the years. She was awarded the British Reggae Industry Awards’ Female Singer of the Year in 1982 and 1983, and she has been inducted into the British Black Music Hall of Fame. She continues to perform and record music to this day and remains an influential figure in the reggae and black British music scenes.
Janet Kay is a trailblazing artist whose impact on the music industry cannot be overstated. Her classic hit “Silly Games” is a testament to her talent, and her success as a black female artist in a male-dominated industry paved the way for others to follow. Her music has brought joy and inspiration to millions of fans, and her legacy as a singer, songwriter, and performer will continue to be celebrated for generations to come.
Fun facts about Janet Kay:
- Janet Kay’s birth name is Janet Kay Bogle, and she is said to be a descendant of the Jamaican National Hero the Rt Excellent Deacon Paul Bogle.
- Kay’s father was a saxophonist and played in a band with his brothers, which inspired her love of music.
- Kay recorded “Silly Games” in just one take, and it became a hit almost immediately after its release.
- Kay was the first black British female artist to have a number one hit on the UK charts.
- Kay co-wrote the song “Loving You” with Alton Ellis, a legendary Jamaican reggae singer.
- Kay’s music has been sampled by several other artists, including Nas, who sampled “Silly Games” on his hit song “The World Is Yours.”
- In the early 90’s Janet, along with fellow actresses Judith Jacob, Suzanne Packer, Suzette Llewellyn, Beverley Michaels, Josephine Melville, and the Late Joanne Campbell formed the highly successful female theatre company the Bibi Crew. All the shows were written produced and directed by the Crew.
- Kay has received numerous awards and accolades over the years, including recognition for her contribution to reggae music and over 40 years of service to British Black music.
- In January of 2023, Kay received the honor of MBE for her services to music. The MBE, which stands for Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, is regarded as the third highest ranking Order of the British Empire award.
- Kay has continued to perform and record music throughout her career, and she remains a popular and influential figure in the reggae and Black British music scenes.