b. c.1952, Jamaica, West Indies. Webber came from a musical family and initially performed alongside her sister Joyce as half of the Webber Sisters, remembered for ‘You I Love’. Her brother David was in the original line-up of the Gladiators recording at Studio One, where Merlene also recorded with Coxsone Dodd. It was at the celebrated Brentford Road studio that Merlene and Joyce began their recording career. Merlene was asked to record as a soloist, resulting in ‘No Happiness’. Her distinctive vocal style soon appeared on a number of releases in the early 70s, including her version of Tammy Wynette’s country hit ‘Stand By Your Man’, produced by Clancy Eccles. The follow-up, ‘Hard Life’, offered a change of style and proved especially popular in the dancehall, as it related to ghetto life in Kingston. However, she remained in obscurity until the mid-70s, when, in 1976, she worked with producer Lloyd Campbell, and released her rendition of Cat Stevens’ ‘The First Cut Is The Deepest’, inspired by P.P. Arnold’s interpretation of the song. The single proved a success, and her debut album was released. The compilation included a reworking of her cover version of ‘Stand By Your Man’, but regrettably she was unable to capitalize on the former single’s success. By 1980 she released ‘Dream Dream’ and ‘Chanting Is’, while her debut compilation was repackaged and re-released. She continues to release sporadic recordings, including ‘The Right Track’ for the Joe Frazier organization.
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