NAME: Sonia Pottinger, OD
BIRTH DATE: 1943
BIRTH PLACE: Jamaica
The most important Jamaican woman involved in music business, Sonia Pottinger was the first female Jamaican record producer and produced artists from the mid 1960s until the mid 1980s. Over her years in the music business she created three record labels; High Not, Gay Feet and much later on Glory. High Note records featured what Mrs. Pottinger called “my harder stuff”, for the Gay Feet label she would put more ballads. The separation of the label and types of music came about to create a ‘distraction’ of the “sole” producer who was seemingly being played on local radio at the time despite the fact that the producer and label created successful hits. Sonia who was also a radio dj had a show called The Soul Stirring hour, so inspired by the music she launched Glory record label.
Married to music producer Linden Pottinger, she opened her Tip Top Records Shop in 1965 at 37 Orange Street, in Kingston, Jamaica and started to record musicians in 1966. She ran the High Note and Gay Feet labels out of the record shop. The first single she issued was “Every Night” by Joe White & Chuck which was during the day of Ska music.
Other artists recorded during this period include Roland Alphonso. Throughout the rock steady and early reggae eras, she became very prolific with hits by The Ethiopians (“The Whip”), Delano Stewart, The Melodians (“Swing And Dine”), Ken Boothe, Alton Ellis and Toots & the Maytals, and the Gaylads released on her Gay Feet, Tip Top, Rainbow, and High Note labels. In the early 1970s her work was less prolific, but in 1974 she was awarded the Treasure Isle label through a court case from long time friend Duke Reid shortly before his death.
In the 1970s, she produced albums by Bob Andy, Marcia Griffiths, Culture, U Roy and Big Youth. Her most well known production is Culture’s Harder Than The Rest album, released in 1978. In the dance hall era show produced Archie & Lynn’s “Rat in the Centre”. She retired from the music business in 1985.
Many of her productions were instant classics, like the Melodians’ “Swing and Dine” and “Little Nut Tree,” the Gaylads’ “ABC Rock Steady,” Delano Stewart’s “That’s Life,” and the Conqueror’s “Won’t You Come Home”, “Every Night” by Joe White and Chuck, and “Brown Eyes” by the Saints. Most of the rock steady output on Gayfeet and High Note were recorded at Wirl and later, at Dynamics which is what Byron Lee called the re-opened studio.
Other featured artistes on her labels included the Valentines, Judy Mowatt, the Ethiopians, Sonya Spence, Culture, Eric “Monty” Morris, Junior “Soul” Murvin, Marcia Griffiths, Justin Hinds, and many others.
In 1999 she recieved the Reggaesoca Music Lifetime Achievement Award and in 2002 she was awarded the Prime Minister’s Award (Jamaica) for her contributions to the music industry.
- Various Artists – Dancing Down Orange Street (High Note, 1969)
- Various Artists – Musical Feast (Heartbeat Records, 1991)
- Various Artists – The Reggae Train (More Great Hits From The High Note Label) (Heartbeat, 1996)
- Various Artists – Put on Your Best Dress: Sonia Pottinger’s Rock Steady 1967-1968
- Various Artists – Queen Patsy & Stranger Cole (Fabulous Songs of Miss Sonia Pottinger Vol.1) (Rock A Shacka, 2007)
- Culture – Harder Than The Rest (High Note, 1978)
- Culture – Culture In Dub (High Note / Heartbeat, 1978)
- Culture – Cumbolo (High Note, 1979)
- Culture – International Herb (High Note, 1979)
- Culture – Trod On (High Note / Heartbeat, 1993)
- Culture – Production Something (High Note / Heartbeat, 1998)
- Various Artists – Old Hits of the Past (High Note)
- Joe White & Chuck Josephs – Every Night (Gay Feet)
- Joe White & Chuck Josephs – My Love For You (Gay Feet)
- The Hippy Boys – Dr No Go (High Note)
- Various Artists – Time To Remember (High Note)
- Phyllis Dillon – One Life To Live (Treasure Isle)
- Bob Andy – Lots Of Love And I (High Note)
- Sonia Spence – In The Dark (High Note & Sky Note)
- Claudell Clarke – How Great Is Our God (Glory)
- Otis Wright – Sacred Songs (High Note, 1969)
- Otis Wright – Soul Stirring Gospel (Glory)
- Otis Wright – Man Of Galilee (Glory)
- Various Artists – Chorus Time (Glory)
- Various Artists – Hottest Hits Vol.1 (Treasure Isle). Compiled and produced by Sonia Pottinger
- Various Artists – Hottest Hits Vol.2 (Treasure Isle). Compiled and produced by Mrs Sonia Pottinger
- Various Artists – Treasure Dub Vol.1. Mixed by Errol Brown. Produced by Sonia Pottinger
- Various Artists – Treasure Dub Vol.2. Mixed by Errol Brown. Produced by Sonia Pottinger
- Justin Hinds & the Dominoes – From Jamaica with Reggae. Produced by Sonia Pottinger