About Janet Kay – Queen of Lover’s Rock
Janet Kay, singer, songwriter and actress, was born Janet Kay Bogle (the first of 6 children) in London to Jamaican parents. Janet is a descendant of the Jamaican National Hero the Rt Excellent Deacon Paul Bogle. Janet’s grandfather and his father before him were also Deacons of the Baptist church.
As a sixties child, Janet was exposed to the singing greats, especially those from the Tamla Motown stable and as a result of the exposure and inspiration, Janet’s love for singing was born.
In 1977, whilst in Secretarial College, Janet was invited by her school friend Sonia Ferguson (who recorded a cover version of Smokey Robinson’s ‘Oh Baby Baby’ in the late 70’s) to a band rehearsal. Destiny saw to it that band member Tony Gad of Aswad, heard Janet singing in the rehearsal room. He was so impressed with the sweetness of Janet’s voice that he introduced her to the reggae legend, the great Alton Ellis. That meeting resulted in Janet recording a cover version of Minnie Ripperton’s ‘Loving You’, produced by Alton Ellis, which became a reggae smash hit spending many weeks at No. 1 in the reggae charts.
The following year, 1978, saw Janet record 2 more cover versions, ‘I Do Love You’ and ‘That’s What Friends Are For’, again, both spending weeks at No. 1 in the reggae charts.
In 1979, Janet made history by becoming the first British born black female to have a reggae song at the top of the British charts. The song ‘Silly Games’, produced by the talented Dennis Bovell (then member of Matumbi), was a hit not only in the UK but also in Europe. Janet’s history making has been recorded in the ‘Music Guiness Book of Records.’
Janet’s songwriting prowess became evident on the release of her first album ‘Capricorn Woman’ (later renamed ‘Silly Games’). The album was, and still is a best seller. All the songs except 2 were penned by Janet Kay.
By now, Janet had become known as the ‘Queen of Lover’s Rock’. In that same year Janet was presented with the awards for Best 7″ single, Best 12″ single and Best Female Vocalist 1979 by Black Echoes Music Newspaper.
Janet’s voice was not exclusive to only reggae music and in the early 80’s she also penned and sung the soulful ‘Eternally Grateful’ which became an underground hit and later finding it’s way into the pop charts.
The early 80’s also saw the collaboration between Janet and reggae legend Jackie Mitto with the Randy Crawford classic, ‘You Bring The Sun Out’.
In 1980, after a chance meeting with actor/singer Victor Romero Evans, Janet was introduced to the theatre company ‘Black Theatre Co-operative’ (BTC). A successful audition saw the birth of Janet’s theatrical career, in the play ‘Mama Dragon’ by Faroukh Dhondy’s which toured England and Europe.
In 1981, Janet also starred in the ‘Black Theatre Co-operative’s’ TV sitcom ‘No Problem’ (LWT/Channel 4), the first black TV show which was created and conceived by a black theatre company. The show became a cult classic.
The late 80’s saw Janet’s collaboration with the singer/producer Lloyd Charmers with the cover album ‘Sweet Surrender’.
In 1990 Janet collaborated with Beats International (Norman Cook aka Fat Boy Slim) on their track Burundi Blues. Following this collaboration, Janet was invited to feature on Lindy Layton’s version of Silly Games.
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.
In 1991, the album ‘Sweet Surrender’ was renamed ‘Lovin’ You, Best of Janet Kay’, (which included a newly recorded version of ‘Lovin’ You’), and was released in Japan. The track ‘Lovin’ You’ propelled Janet to stardom in Japan. It has become the best known reggae track in Japan. Janet subsequently signed to Sony Music (Japan). As a Sony artist Janet has, to date released the following albums:-
Loving You (The Best of Janet Kay) – 1991
Love You Always – 1993
For the Love of You – 1994
In Paradise – 1996
Making History – 1998
Through The Years – 1999
Loving You… More – 2003
Over the years Janet has collaborated with top producers, Drummie Zeb and Tony Gad (Aswad), Junior Giscombe (‘Mama Used To Say’),Omar, Tippa Irie, Jeremy Meehan, Shinichi Osawa (Japan), Kodama & Gota (Japan), Omar and Sly & Robbie. Janet’s albums have sold in excess of a million copies in Japan, ‘Love You Always’ selling hundreds of thousand copies in its first year alone and has continued selling ever since.
In 1999, Janet was invited to co-write and record 3 songs for an NTV TV drama soundtrack in Japan entitled ‘La Dolce Vita’, alongside the renowned Japanese composer Taro Iwashiro.
Janet has visited Japan at least once a year every year since 1990.
For the last 5 years Janet has been the resident artiste for 2 to 3 weeks at a time at the exclusive Blue Note Club in Fukuoka, Osaka, Yokohama, Nagoya and Tokyo, playing to full houses twice nightly.
Janet has recently recorded, and co-produced her 7th album for Sony Music Japan, entitled ‘Lovin’ You… More’. The popularity of the song ‘Lovin’ You’ in Japan is so great, that Janet was asked to re-record it yet again for this album (the 3rd time). This version is produced by Omar.
2005 has seen Janet in a production called ‘Sweet Inspiration’, a celebration of music and literature from the Caribbean. In this production Janet has had the pleasure of working closely with the London Community Gospel choir, Rudolph Walker (from Love Thy Neighbour and recently East Enders) and Sir Willard White (Jamaican born, world renowned opera singer) to name but a few.
Janet has worked in the studio recently with Madness on their ‘The Dangermen Volume 1’ album, released in Europe and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry.
Janet’s talents are not exclusive to singing and drama. Janet is an accomplished Machine Knitter/Designer and Lacemaker her works have been published in craft editorials. Janet has recently completed a Film Editors course and has co-edited a short feature film (‘Evergreen Man’), which has been recently nominated for an award by the BFM.
Janet has been voted one of Britain’s Top 100 Black Britains by the Evening Standard and she has also been presented with an award for her ‘Outstanding Contribution to Black Music’ by Darker Than Blue in association with Barclays, British Black Music History Day for her contribution to the British Black Music Industry (October 2001) and the Society of Black Arts Achievement Award 1995.
Janet’s sweet, heart warming vocals has and continues to win her many friends around the world. Her songs, ‘Silly Games’ and ‘Lovin’ You’, reaching anthemic heights, on this side and the other side of the globe.
Janet Kay Online