b. Silifatu Mornii Wehabie Tella, c.1960, England. Tella initially found success as a vocalist for the phenomenally successful group Boney M. The group performed various numbers over a pseudo-reggae beat, including the record-breaking version of the Melodians’ classic ‘Rivers Of Babylon’, a reworking of the Jamaican playground song ‘Brown Girl In The Ring’ and Bob Marley’s ‘No Woman No Cry’. Following her departure from the group she embarked on a solo career. She found work within the UK reggae community, recording under the guidance of Lloyd Charmers, backed by the Administrators. The partnership lasted for about a year before she moved on. In the late 80s she made a big impact on the reggae chart when she recorded her classic hit, ‘Spell’. She remained active in the business both in her live appearances and as a recording artist, although the huge success of ‘Spell’ thwarted her progress. 1988’s Hurricane Gilbert, which swept across Jamaica, inspired a fund-raising charity record featuring a number of pop and reggae musicians under the guise of Windjammer, and included Tella’s lead vocals. With the jazzy pop group the Blow Monkeys, Tella demonstrated her vocal skills to a wider audience with the release of ‘Choice’, which peaked at number 22 on the UK Top 30 in the summer of 1989. She also provided vocals for the indie band Pop Will Eat Itself. The release was followed by a further collaboration on the haunting ‘Slaves No More’, which made a minor impression on the pop chart. In 1996 she returned with a vengeance on a four-track discomix with Vivian Jones, ‘Nu Chat To Me’, ‘Sometimes Love’, ‘Jah Bless Love’ and ‘Feelings’, and her solo hit, ‘Mother Nature’. Her popularity was further enhanced by the success of her solo hits ‘Searching For The One’ and ‘Happy Home’. Another duet, ‘Sweet As Honey’, featured Leroy ‘Mafia’ Heywood, who has pursued an outstanding career with his brother as Mafia And Fluxy. In November 1996 Tella featured in a concert commemorating 28 years of reggae, alongside Jah Woosh, Junior Delgado, Horace Andy, Earl Sixteen, Tyrone Taylor, Winston Reedy and Top Cat. In 1997 she joined Saint And Campbell on a global tour, appeared at London’s Notting Hill Carnival alongside Beenie Man and the Main Street Crew, and was voted Best Female Performer at the People’s Choice Awards, as well as being nominated for Best British Reggae Artist at the MOBO awards.
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