Edric Connor is primarily remembered by filmgoers as an actor for his work on screen during the last 15 years of his life, but the Trinidad-born singer also played a pivotal role in the introduction of what is now called world music to England during the late '40s and early '50s. Born in Mayaro, Trinidad, in the British West Indies in 1913, he began singing as a young man and left Trinidad in 1944 for England, in search of wider success as both a musician and actor.
Over the ensuing half decade, he became one of the leading exponents of West Indian music in England, in an era in which American jazz barely had a foothold. His performance with a steel band at the 1952 Festival of Britain in London was a major event in the musical life of postwar England, bringing exposure to a form of music that was beloved in a key part of the empire, and also planting a seed in the spread of Jamaican music that ultimately led to the boom in ska and reggae.
Edric Connor and his wife, Pearl, became major stars in music and acting over the ensuing decade, Connor becoming the first black actor to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company and playing key roles in a dozen major British and international films. In 1952, teamed with a singing group, he released Songs from Jamaica, a groundbreaking LP of Jamaican folk music credited to Edric Connor & the Caribbeans, on the Argo label. Acting came to dominate Connor's career during his final decade, in which he worked in several major epic movies and some prominent British television shows. ~ Bruce Eder