Sister Nancy, born Ophlin Russell in Kingston, Jamaica in 1962, is a trailblazing reggae artist known for her pioneering role in the genre of dancehall. She began her career in the late 1970s, and her classic track “Bam Bam” has become a cornerstone of reggae music.
Sister Nancy grew up in a musical family, with her father and five of her brothers all involved in the music industry. She began her career as a deejay, performing on local sound systems in Kingston. Her early influences included the likes of Bob Marley and Toots and the Maytals, but she quickly developed her own unique sound.
In 1982, Sister Nancy released her debut album, “One, Two,” which featured the now-iconic track “Bam Bam”. The song was an instant hit and has since been sampled by countless other artists across a wide range of genres. It has also been featured in numerous films and TV shows, further cementing its place in popular culture.
“Bam Bam” is a testament to Sister Nancy’s lyrical prowess, with clever wordplay and a catchy chorus that has become a staple at parties and in dancehalls around the world. The song’s message of empowerment and resilience has also resonated with audiences, particularly with women and marginalized communities.
Sister Nancy continued to release music throughout the 1980s, including the albums “Papa Dean” and “Sister Nancy Meets Fireproof,” which further showcased her unique style and versatility as an artist. She has also collaborated with a range of other musicians, including Yellowman, Tenor Saw, and Lady G.
In addition to her music career, Sister Nancy has also been an advocate for social justice issues, particularly around issues of gender and racial equality. She has been outspoken about the need for greater representation and recognition for women in the music industry and has used her platform to raise awareness about these issues.
Sister Nancy’s contributions to the reggae and dancehall genres have been immeasurable, and her impact on the music industry as a whole cannot be overstated. She has paved the way for countless other artists, particularly women, and her music continues to inspire and resonate with audiences around the world.
Sister Nancy has been awarded numerous honors over the years and remains an active performer and recording artist who continues to push boundaries and challenge norms within the music industry.
Things to know:
- Sister Nancy’s father, a ska musician, played with the legendary Skatalites, and her older brother, Robert is also a reggae artist known widely as Brigadier Jerry.
- Sister Nancy started her music career in the late 1970s, and was one of the first female dancehall DJs, paving the way for women in the genre.
- Sister Nancy’s hit single “Bam Bam”, is said to be one of the most sampled songs of all time. Considered a classic in reggae and hip-hop circles, the song has been sampled by numerous artists, including Jay-Z, Kanye West, Beyonce and more.
- For 32 years, Sister Nancy didn’t earn a cent for her hit song. After hearing her song “Bam Bam” in a Reebok commercial in 2014, she took legal action and has since received compensation for the previous 10 years and now owns 50 percent rights to the entire album.
- Sister Nancy is also known for her socially conscious lyrics, which address topics such as poverty, violence, and oppression.
- She took a break from music in the late 1980s to focus on her family, but returned to the scene in the 1990s and continues to perform and record music to this day.