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Bahama mama

The vocalist of Boney M spreads the word positive and zest for life

Photo: Serish Nanisetti

Still rocking Marcia Barett

Here for a pink ribbon event for breast cancer awareness, Marcia Barrett looks like a pink peacock with frills, florets and flowing lines, with nails painted a fire-engine red. When she picks up a glass of water to drink, there is a perceptible tremor in her palm. Then she talks: rather casts her spell with an amazingly unbelievable story, that is interspersed with a child-like gunshot laughter that spreads joy like sunrays in darkness.

“I can’t wait to get on to the stage even now (she’s born in1948). I don’t need to prime myself for a performance, I rush to the stage. I love the joy on people’s faces when they hear our songs,” she says, then: “You know I was paralysed from waist down in 2003? And here I am walking, talking and performing for an audience. I cannot be but happy with life. Life is fantastic,” says Marcia as she takes a trip down two lanes of memory; one of the success that was Boney M and another, a personal story of triumph over a disease, that is made to sound like death: Cancer. “No, it wasn’t once. I have battled it four times. I was never afraid. Yes there was shock when I first got to know it but I got over it with the positive that is embedded in my subconscious,” she says. And then she goes to the recesses of memory to trace the positive. “As children growing up in Jamaica, I used to go to church. It was a very religious place. Prayer meant going to the church, now you don’t have to go to a church. You discover the Lord within you,” she says.

“The craze that people have for Boney M is still amazing. It must be 30 years and three generations know, hear and sing the songs. Whenever I am performing, people come with little kids and the little ones not only clap, they sing along which is fantastic,” she says.

Marcia has seen it all as the diva who shared space with Liz Mitchell as the group created waves across the world with numbers like Daddy Cool, Rasputin…Oh those Russians, the very dramatic Ma Baker, Mary’s Boy Child, Oceans of Fantasy, the list goes on and if you want to hear them all you have to do is hear the mp3 file on the Internet. “Piracy is a bad thing, it takes away all the hard work that the artists have done,” she says. But more people get to hear it? “Maybe,” she roars with laughter then adds: “Piracy is stealing. It is taking away someone’s earnings. You know recording is hard work. For Rivers of Babylon I had to stand for five hours, by the end of it I was dizzy,” she says.

“My favourite track? Perhaps it is the one that most people request for a performance. That would be Daddy Cool, Rasputin… Four of us coming together? That’s possible. As I always say never say never. All it requires is persuasion and some big time planning. If someone pulls it off, I am game,” says Marcia.

SERISH NANISETTI

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