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Nora Dean

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Nora Dean is one of reggae’s greatest mysteries. She sang solo as well as being a member of The Ebony Sisters, The Soul Sisters and The Soulettes. She did backing vocals on some recordings by Jimmy Cliff. Although she was not a prolific artist (especially by reggae standards), a number of her songs are very fondly remembered by fans of Jamaican music as true reggae classics. This is because Nora Dean brought something extra to her best songs, making them unusual and endlessly enjoyable. And yet, there is little biographical information about her anywhere. No interviews with her have ever been published. Photos seemed to be non-existent. Go through every reggae book, documentary, and liner note of the dozens of compilations her classic tracks appear on; you’ll learn that Nora Dean was born in 1952, and nothing more. Google until the search results are exhausted and, all you’ll learn is how many people share her name.

Somehow, the mystery is fitting for such an unusual singer.

Nora Dean is one of reggae’s best female vocalists. Listening to her music, it is immediately apparent that she has a great Jamaican voice. What might be slightly less obvious are the rich depths of her singing. This is what makes many of her recordings so special. An unexpected turn of melody, a well placed use of sounds instead of words, an emotional intensity and complexity that is very expressive. These are the hallmarks of the Nora Dean sound.

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