Sister Carol, together with Sister Nancy you were one of the first female deejays in Jamaica...
Sister Carol: "Yes-I! First I must say greetings in the divine name of His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I and Queen Omega Empress Menen. Well, what female deejays are concerned, I think the first one that really got established was Sista Nancy and then just after her I followed."
You always stayed true to the conscious side of the music. You never strayed over into the rougher kind of dancehall. You grew up in New York, so even hip hop might have tempted you, but none the less your commitment to Rastafari showed to be very strong. Where did the conviction come from?
Sister Carol: "Well I do venture into dancehall music sometimes and I did some songs on a hip hop riddim in the past, but ever since I was a child, I was very much conscious of who I was. I think I can say I already became a conscious Rastafari when I was only about 7 years old. (stresses) This was after seeing His Imperial Majesty as a child when he came to Jamaica in 1966. Since that time I've been conscious about Rastafari mentally, spiritually and physically. I really had no choice but to walk that road. It's how I talk and how I live."
You are one of the few artists that also mention Empress Menen. What exactly does she represent to you?
Sister Carol: "Well you see, His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I not only married Empress Menen, but he also crowned her Queen of all Queens. She is the female counterbalance to the male side. Most of the people that went to the coronation in 1930 only talked about His Majesty, but we as women find it necessary to highlight Empress Menen as well. She was the Mother of Creation, because His Majesty always said he couldn't have been King without her. In terms of getting that feminine energy or that feminine spiritual consciousness we look to Empress Menen. There must be a balance, king and queen, man and woman, emperor and empress, lion and lioness."
If we look at the Boboshanti communities in Jamaica, the relationships between men and women and the social role of women in those communities in general, may strike us as westerners as strange and even unfair. As a Rastafarian women what's your view on that issue?
Sister Carol: "Well I can't really comment on that. I just see Rastafarians as Rastafarians without separations or barriers. I try to overcome divisions like Twelve Tribes, Boboshanti and Nyahbinghi. To each one his own, but I think a woman has to know herself and has to know her place, responsibilities and duties. If the Most High made I the way I am, there to play music, I can't really fight that."
Being one of the first female deejays on the island who did you look up to musically? Who were your musical role models?
Sister Carol: "Growing up I got my inspiration from all the sisters that came before me, people like Nina Simone, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Hortense Ellis, Rita Marley, Marcia Griffiths and Judy Mowatt. I took something from each and every one of them, but I was inspired by male artists as well. When I first started, my main inspiration was Brigadier Jerry. I even sounded like him until I found my own style. That must have been somewhere around 1984 and from that time I've just been writing and creating."
One great Jamaican woman that just passed away last week was Miss Lou (Louise Simone Bennett-Coverley, celebrated and much-loved Jamaican folklorist, writer, and artiste, red.). What does she represent to you?
Sister Carol: "To be honest, that was the first name I tried to remember just now. I'm glad you brought her up. She was a very positive influence in my life. As a child I used to emulate Miss Lou. I used to say her poems and recite them in school."
Here in Europe she's not that well-known. What does she represent to the Jamaican people?
Sister Carol: "She represents the genuine, authentic indigenous Jamaican culture in terms of music, dance and poetry. She gave the Jamaican language (patois, red.) back its positivity, because as youths we were still told patois was a bad thing and we should only talk English. Miss Lou made us aware of our heritage and be proud of it as it was a language of our own. She's bigger than life."
You have a new album coming up. What can you already tell us about that?
Sister Carol: "Well, it will be entitled '1derful Words' and it will celebrate 25 years of Sister Carol music. I really started 30 years ago, but as a solo artist it's 25 years. I produced this album myself and I feel it's my best one yet! I should say: "So far!" there's only better to come!"
Sister Carol, I want to thank you for taking the time out to do this.
Sister Carol: "Well, it certainly has been a pleasure. Right after the album I will start the launch of my new Black Cinderella clothing line, because I not only want to promote the music, but the clothing, the food and the culture as well. I'm known also as Mother Culture you know. You can also always log on to my website www.sistercarol.com for more information. Yeah man, bless king!"