(For this special celebration of Mother’s Day in Jamaica’s 60 year, the entertainment desk is showcasing some of the women who have made outstanding contributions to the fields of music and culture.)
Sonia Pottinger’s professional story began with accounting but fell apart with her being Jamaica’s first successful producer, ushering in countless hits, new talent and multiple record labels.
Her entry into the music industry was when she helped her husband, Lindon Pottinger, establish several businesses, including Gaydisc Records in the early 1960s. Their separation in 1965 would pave the way for her independent musical pursuits and at his Tip Top record store on Orange Street in Kingston. A staple of ‘Beat Street’ history, veteran artist Stranger Cole remembers being Pottinger’s early days in the business.
“I’ve known her since her productions started,” Cole said. The Sunday Gleaner. “I met her through Orange Street on her Gay Feet label and was at the first recording she did. It was with Joe White, the song called Every nightthen I was introduced (to her) in this studio, listening and looking around.
At the next session, Cole was in the booth with his duet partner Patsy Todd recording Give me the right. Cole had already begun his career with Duke Reid, who would become Pottinger’s friend but rival, with the success of his productions.
“The song went number one and we also did one with Count Ossie called Along the train line, and various songs with Miss Pottinger. She was a really nice lady and a very good friend of mine,” Cole said.
Pottinger established herself in the male-dominated space, working with top artists like Ken Boothe and The Melodians, and others like Delroy Wilson, Sister Carol and Judy Mowatt when she launched her High Note label. in the late 60s. She was also behind Errol Dunkley’s debut album, Introducing Errol Dunkleywhich gave classics like movie star. She went on to produce hits like The Gaylads’ Hard to confess;The Silverstones’ gun fever and Marcia Griffiths Dreamland.
With Reid’s passing, Pottinger sought to protect and preserve his musical legacy by acquiring his Treasure Isle Records catalog in 1974. The move came as roots and reggae music flourished, and Pottinger’s work s flourished with him, as evidenced by outings like Marcia Griffiths’. Hurt inside and culture Natty never gets tired. His work with new and established artists continued with names like Bob Andy, Jackie Edwards, Beres Hammond, Sonya Spence and Jah Thomas. The shrewd businesswoman is often praised for her hands-on and meticulous dedication to her productions, personally recruiting esteemed musicians like Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Ernest Ranglin and Dean Fraser for her recordings.
“I think she was very successful in making an impact on the music industry, because it was mostly men doing recordings back then until she came along,” Cole said. . “She’s one of the number one producers in Jamaica, as far as I know, and she’s been really, really successful.”
Pottinger retired in the mid-1980s in the wake of the digital music frenzy, apparently occupying his time with sewing and ceramics. Although she retired from the production, her contributions did not go unnoticed. She received the national honor of the Order of Distinction in 2004, and was subsequently honored at the Excellence in Music & Entertainment Awards.
Pottinger died in late 2010. She was 79.