“I’ve known this song since I first heard it in the 1970s. The poignancy in the lyrics, I’ve never heard them resonate in the way I heard them did this morning. The way the girls sang it is really powerful,” was how David Rodigan voiced his opinion of the St Andrew High School for Girls (SAHS) Choir’s rendition of Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry.
The occasion was a recording and filming session of the high school choir by the (British Broadcasting Corporation) BBC 1XTra team, for the programme ‘David Rodigan in Jamaica’.
The taping took place in the schools Founders Library, located on the Cecelio Avenue campus, on Saturday.
Aptly, it was also the day Marley would have celebrated his 71st birthday.
In expressing his gratitude to the 22-member choir, Rodigan told them, “What you are doing today is very special to us at the BBC. We know you have given up time for rehearsals and, to show how much it means to us, it will be broadcast on the BBC on film and on radio.”
While Sharon Reid, principal of SAHS, believed that by having the BBC 1XTra team coming to her institution, “is first an excellent opportunity for the girls to get this sort of exposure to the type of recording, really top of the line, by one of the best engineers in the world. It must be quite a land mark for them. And then for the school, it is our 90th anniversary. And it is good to know that our choir will be aired on BBC. I think it’s just a wonderful opportunity and experience.”
Saturday’s session was the culmination of actions that began with a request from the BBC to Jamaican reggae artiste Nadine Sutherland. She was asked to recommend an all girls school choir for the show BBC1Xtra David Rodigan in Jamaica, as a part of a special session called ‘Sisters Rocking’.
Sutherland was on a promotional tour of her new single, Inna Mi Blood, in London. And with the blood of St Andrew still running in her veins, the old girl did not hesitate to recommend the choir of her alma mater.
“I knew that St Andrew High would deliver,” she said proudly after the recording.
Principal Reid is grateful for Sutherland’s show of confidence in her former school, “We are very grateful to Nadine, because that’s how our old girls work with us. The opportunity came up and she linked with us right away.”
For choir members Tianna Simmonds and Monique Smith (grades nine and seven, respectively), it was a proud moment. “I can’t wait to see and here what it sounds like. It feels nice to know that my voice contributed to something so beautiful. I feel famous,” said Simmonds.
For Smith, the recording session was fun, but the rehearsal process was a different story.
“We had to go to rehearsal every day, especially in the last week before the recording. But it paid off,” she admitted.
She was also glad to know that the BBC team was pleased with their performance.
BBC 1XTra is a digital online station that started 13 years ago as a sister station to Radio 1.
“We play music from across the genres,” head of programme, at BBC Radio 1 and 1XTra, Rhys Hughes, informed The Gleaner.
“The trip to Jamaica is a fantastic opportunity for us to seek out new artistes and content to use in the year.”
– Marcia Rowe