b. Carlene Smith, Beverly Hills, Kingston 6, Jamaica, West Indies. In spite of her ghetto image Smith had a middle class upbringing and was raised in the district of Ravina by her German mother and Jamaican father. She is celebrated for dancehall moves that she nurtured performing at local fêtes and teen jams. She was educated at the Alpha Preparatory, Excelsior High School and finally the Eastern Academy where she completed a secretarial course. In 1992, she entered a series of eight fashion clash stage shows celebrated as Uptown Vs Dancehall. Her success in these shows resulted in her being crowned The Dancehall Queen. Her new-found celebrity status resulted in promotional work in Jamaica endorsing various products and companies and Jamaica’s first locally produced condoms named Slam. The condom wrapper featured Carlene and the proclamation ‘Slam Country’ over the Jamaican flag, which resulted in controversy when the promotion led to questions in parliament. The marketing campaign featured Carlene inflating a sheath and the Beenie Man jingle ‘Nuff Slam’, an incongruous tune produced by Tony Kelly. Carlene had a long-term relationship with Beenie Man and the couple became media favourites in Jamaica. As is often the case with the intrusive nature of the paparazzi their attention in the mid-90s became excessive. At this time Carlene was expecting the DJ’s child and during the pregnancy she miscarried. She appeared in a number of music videos such as Beenie Man’s ‘Nuff Gal’ (before their amicable separation), Admiral Bailey’s ‘Butterfly’ and Chaka Demus And Pliers’ ‘Murder She Wrote’. In addition to her dancehall success she performed at the Jamaican Carnival and was also honoured as the local Soca Queen. In her role as a calypso queen she performed alongside Byron Lee and Mighty Sparrow in dance contests. Carlene also embarked on a recording career with producers Sly And Robbie who released her debut, a cover version of the Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’. Her celebrity status was enhanced when she appeared in the ill-fated movie Klash, as well as a cameo in the popular CVM-TV television series Royal Palm Estate.
Share this page