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Cynthia Richards

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Cynthia Richards' voice first won the adoration of fellow pupils at the Denham Town Primary school, where she impressed them at end-of-term concerts. On the suggestion of one of her teachers, she appeared on Vere John's Talent Show, and utilised the financial rewards to further her career. She worked outside music as a magistrate's clerk, as well as with veteran guitarist Bobby Aitken's Carib Beats Band. Following her departure from the group, her vocal skills were employed by the Falcons, Byron Lee & The Dragonaires and the Mighty Vikings. In 1969, she recorded her first single, 'How Could I', for Coxsone Dodd at Studio One. The song did not make any waves but, encouraged by what he had heard, Clancy Eccles recorded her and 'Foolish Fool' was a smash hit in Jamaica. (The single was also released in the UK, where it bubbled under the pop chart.) Continuing with her live performances, in 1970 she also linked up with Skin Flesh And Bones, performing at the Tit-For-Tat club while maintaining her solo career. Frustrated with the lack of financial reward for her recordings, she did not return to the studio until summoned by Duke Reid. She recorded a version of 'Clean Up Woman', 'Sentimental Reasons' and the more rootsy 'Aily I', the latter proving a UK reggae smash when released on the Attack label in 1972. With other producers, including Alvin 'GG' Ranglin and Larry Lawrence, she released the minor hits 'Place In My Heart' and 'Change Partners'. With the business side of the industry thwarting her efforts, Richards decided to go it alone. By 1972 she had recorded 'Mr. Postman', which, assisted by Al Brown, was written, produced and arranged by Richards. In 1973, she enjoyed a hit with the Staple Singers' 'If You're Ready (Come Go With Me)'. She was voted Top Female Artist of 1973 and toured as part of the Jamaica showcase alongside Dennis Brown, Toots & The Maytals, Sharon Forrester and Al Brown, all backed by Skin Flesh And Bones.

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