Jamaica-born Dawn Penn is a classically trained singer, musician, and actress. As a teen she recorded for Clement Dodd’s Studio One label. Her first single, “No No No,” is recognized as a classic reggae song. The song was re-recorded with Steely & Clevie in 1991 and crossed over into mainstream pop charts. The album No No No was later nominated for a Grammy Award. Dawn Penn continued to record and perform and is featured in the film “Get Ready to Rocksteady.” Currently Dawn is recording and planning a U.S. tour.
1. When and where did you get started in the actual music business? 1st show/recording?
Singing was a hobby. One Sunday afternoon in 1967 I went to Studio One Recording Studios while attending St. Hugh’s High School and did an audition. The following day I recorded a track called “You Don’t Love Me (No No No)”. I later entered the Jamaica Independence Festival Competition, accompanying myself on the organ, and sang one of my original songs called “Make Up Your Mind.” I could say I really got started in the music business in 1991. Studio One had their 35th anniversary and a producer called Steely came by to say he was doing an album for Heartbeat Records. I re-recorded my signature song and got signed to Big Beat/Atlantic Records.
2. Who were your early influences?
Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Patti La Belle, and Diana Ross. In Jamaica, it was Lilieth Phillips of the North Street Congregational Church and Beverley Dexter of the “Y Choral Group.”
3. What is your current project? Or what do you have planned?
I am promoting my Vintage album, a collection of tracks I did back in the day, that neither royalties nor statement related thereto have not been received to date. Also, an album called Never Hustle The Music, a documentary called Rocksteady: the Roots of Reggae, and a single called “City Life.”
4. Where is your largest fan base located and why?
My largest fan base is located in Japan, USA, Europe, Australia, and the Caribbean.
They love my music and what I do.
5. What has been your most memorable career moment and why?
I have many but one of the most memorable times in my career was when I was signed to Big Beat/Atlantic Records. I scaled the charts, putting my music in 53 countries around the world.
This was my most exciting time because I had never reached that peak in the music business. Also, the release of the documentary Rocksteady: the Roots of Reggae (produced by Stacher of Switzerland and Mossman from Canada) in Australia, and performing alongside Stranjah Cole and being accompanied by a 30-piece orchestra in Melbourne and Sydney in 2010.
6. What has been your biggest challenge professionally?
My greatest challenge is dealing with people I can trust and the lack of funds to promote my music worldwide.
7. If you could collaborate with any artist of any genre, who would it be and why?
I‘m flexible at the minute but would work with Dr. Dre, Timberland or Eminem.
8. If you only had time left to perform one last song, what it be and why?
I will always have time because Father Jesus is in control and I know I am blessed. The track I want to make happen is “City Life,” and I have many more already recorded, a Rap Hip-Hop track called “Growing-up” or “Old Johnny.” These songs speak for themselves.
9. If you could change one thing in the reggae music business, what would it be and why?
Reggae is the Jamaican heartbeat of the people worldwide. Every country that has someone singing or copying/using our style should be paying a percentage on monies derived therefrom, enabling each and everyone who was instrumental in its formation the ability to live comfortably, instead of this hand to mouth scenario. Plus, there should be a Hall of Fame recognising and paying respect to each and every foundation artist identifying the role they played.
10. Here’s your chance to thank some who has been instrumental in your career who would that be and why?
I would like to thank my real fans who have been following me all this time, and the people who
put out my music without my permission over time.
11. Tell us one thing about yourself that your fans do not know.
The fans do not know that I am a player of many instruments.
Learn More about Dawn Penn at her website: dawnpenn.co.uk
About the Author:
M. Peggy Quattro, Reggae Report founder and publisher, celebrates 30 years in the Reggae business in 2011. As head of RRI Media Corp., she manages ReggaeReport.com Reggae Report on Facebook, performs freelance writing, editing and PR, public speaker from a personal reggae perspective on Reggae history, and is a Certified Social Media Strategist and consultant. - Reggae Report/Facebook ReggaeReport.com Blog- www.mpeggyq.com ReggaeReport Twitter [email protected]