@ the Indigo 02
23 September 2011
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Susan Cadogan’s voice has been called time after time, the
“sexiest voice in Reggae”….soft ,crystal clear
and with a breathy yet earthy feel, she has used it over the past
30 years to record some of the most sensual, sentimental and heartfelt
rocksteady, reggae and lover’s rock starting with her British
smash “Hurt so Good” in 1975.
Born Allison Anne Cadogan on November 2, 1951 in Kingston, Jamaica,
she came from a musical family, and her mother, a trained soprano
had in fact recorded a number of 78rpm records during her childhood.
Her father, a Methodist minister from Belize, The Rev. Dr. Claude
Cadogan took the family there during her early childhood years with
her elder sister and brother Jean and Mark. Her younger brother
Paul was born while she lived in Montego Bay in St. James, Jamaica
where it was that she discovered she had a great love for music
and sang daily using a broomstick as a microphone. She loved The
Platters, Ben. E. King, the Drifters, the Supremes, Dionne Warwick,
and Gladys Knight became her favourite singer.
Cadogan attended the St. Andrew High School for Girls and Excelsior
College in Kingston, Jamaica and completed the Advanced Level General
Certificate of Education (London). Her love of singing never impacted
on her life and she little dreamed or even tried to get into the
singing business but her best friend’s boyfriend who was a
DJ changed her life around.
Theresa Bryan (her best friend from High School days)) worked at
the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation record library and introduced
her to Jerry Lewis who asked them both to record a song he had written
called “Love my Life”. Theresa was quite a singer too
but when they eventually went to the “ Black Ark” studios
of Lee “Scratch” Perry, Bryan lost her nerve and Cadogan
recorded the track solo. Scratch, impressed by her voice, asked
her if she knew the song “Hurt so Good” which had been
popularised by Millie Jackson. Avid music lover, she of course knew
the track and sang it for Perry that very night accompanied by the
Mighty Diamonds. He renamed her ‘Susan,’ saying that
it was a sexier name and Perry began recording her each weekend,
giving her tapes to learn.
Perry’s hard and rootsy rhythms along with the delicacy of
Cadogan’s vocals produced the album “Susan Cadogan”
released by Trojan records which to this day continues to rouse
even the young teenagers as “Hurt so Good” became a
classic and has turned Cadogan into one of the icons in reggae music
when it stormed up the BBC charts and earned her Silver and Gold
In the spring of 1975 after the Notting Hill Carnival had rocked
to the sultry sound of Hurt so Good, Susan was flown into London,
her world turned around and round. The song had received virtually
no attention from the Jamaican public. It was a different story
in Britain, where Perry had licensed the single. An astute remix
quickly flew to the top of the reggae chart and the single was picked
up by then unknown Peter Waterman who took it into the office of
the then popular Magnet records who licensed the single and by March,
“Hurt” was sitting in the Top Five of the U.K. national
chart. Cadogan was soon on her way to London, where she made several
national TV appearances. While there, the singer inked a deal with
Magnet, prompting Perry to license his own recordings with her to
a variety of small U.K. labels. Amazingly enough, none of these
singles charted; however in 1976, Perry handed all his tapes of
Cadogan to Trojan, who released them as the sublime “Hurt
So Good” album.
At the same time, the singer herself was in the studio recording
with producer Pete Waterman of Stock, Aitken & Waterman pop
fame. The first fruit of this new union, “Love Me Baby,”
barely scraped into the Top 25 in the spring of 1975; its follow-up,
“How Do You Feel the Morning After,” did not chart.
The response to Cadogan’s album “Doing It Her Way,”
released the same year, was equally disappointing, but not perhaps
surprising. Roots ruled the roost in Britain and Waterman’s
crisp production and lightweight choice of songs (“Swinging
on a Star” for example) offended reggae fans and didn't connect
with pop fans, either. Cadogan hopefully hung on in Britain until
1977, when after a series of failed singles, she called it a day.
She returned home to Jamaica and her old job at the University library.
Out of the blue in 1982, Cadogan was back on the Jamaican chart
with a cover of Smokey Robinson’s classic “Tracks of
My Tears.” In the intervening years, much of the island’s
public had grown weary of roots and its constant carping on cultural
themes. Social fatigue had set in and many listeners now wanted
a change, as a result, a new style had sprung up: lovers rock. Richly
romantic, gentle, and soothing, it was perfect for Cadogan’s
Over the next couple of years, the singer stamped her imprint across
the island’s chart. “Tears” was followed by two
more hits in 1982 — “Piece of My Heart” and “Love
Me.” She topped the chart the next year with an exquisite
duet with Ruddy Thomas, “(You Know How to Make Me) Feel So
Good,” and the pair followed that up with a second smash,
“Only Heaven Can Wait.” In 1984, Cadogan on her own
delivered up two further chart winners, “Cause You Love Me
Baby” and “Don't Know Why.”
Then, just as swiftly as she had appeared, the singer vanished,
leaving the music industry entirely. It was almost a decade before
she resurfaced; this time accompanied by English producer Mad Professor
(Neil Fraser). In 1992, her magnificent version of “Together
We Are Beautiful” was included on the producer’s 12th
anniversary compilation, celebrating his own Ariwa label. Like Perry
before him, Mad Professor left his own production eccentricities
behind and brought out the best in Cadogan for her 1992 album, Soulful
Reggae, another cover-heavy set that showcases the singer’s
The following year, she recorded another track “Take time
with me” for Ariwa’s “This Is Lovers Reggae, Vol.
Three” compilation, guest -starred on Mad Professor’s
Dub Maniacs on the Rampage, and even joined legendary DJ U-Roy for
his new version of her old hit “Hurts So Good.” In 1995,
British singer Jimmy Somerville took this song back to the U.K.
charts with his own take on the song she’d made her own. Cadogan
herself returned that same year with an excellent new album, Chemistry
of Love which had been recorded from 1989 in Jamaica.
In 1998, Cadogan was lured back into the recording studio by Ruddy
Thomas and the album “Stealing Love” was recorded for
Bruce White of British-based Creole Records with Thomas doing production.
The album was released in early 1999 (as a combination album with
solo Ruddy Thomas tracks included) on the Rhino Label and a re-recording
of “You Know How To Make Me Feel So Good” was released
as a single.....Codagon was never given anything at all for either
recording , on ensuing sales or licensing of any of the tracks from
Codagon remained silent for the following years back at work in
the Library in Jamaica and then at the Orange Public Library, in
New Jersey. She linked up with Glen Adams in New York and they began
working on some new material.
In 2003 Capo Records released a new album “The Rhythm In You”,
produced by Glen Adams and Susan Cadogan. In the summer of 2003
she went on a marathon 34 date European tour with New York Ska band
The Slackers and Adams. Cadogan received roaring audience response
as the “Queen of Lover’s Rock” lived up to her
“sexiest” voice reputation and dynamic performance level.
One critic called her set at Dingwall’s club in London “fantastic”.
She headlined the Lover’s Rock night of the Lee “Scratch”
Perry Meltdown Festival in London in June that year and received
a standing ovation from the audience as they danced and sang along
to her megahit “Hurt So Good”....one critic claiming
that her voice was “sexy enough to drive a man mad”!
Susan Cadogan continues to record and perform endorsing her international
reputation as the first “Queen of Lovers Rock” and a