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Dancehall Legend Sister Charmaine Dies At Age 54

Dancehall legend Sister Charmaine has died.

Reggae/dancehall has lost another icon as veteran artiste Sister Charmaine passed away, earlier today January 5. Sources confirmed with Urban Islandz on Tuesday that the legendary dancehall singer, who suffered from asthma, died peacefully in her sleep this morning. She was credited with being one of the first female deejays to use more vulgar lyrics and was considered a pioneer when it came to holding her own on stage.

She was considered one of the best among her peers when it came to freestyle. Her most remembered freestyle performance was in 1989 when she triumphed over Lady G, Patra, and Lady P at Sting. The year before, she appeared alongside Lady Mackerel and Junie Rank.

Her career began at an early age, and at just 17-years-old she had a hit single called “Glammity,” which got some airplay and eventually made its way onto some of the local charts in Jamaica. Jamaica was still very much conservative then, and the song was considered not fit for airplay.

During a 2015 interview on Sound Chat Radio with Irish & Chin Inc., she lamented the fact that the Sting competition had changed so much. She noted that in her time, it was just for fun and that she felt more modern versions had become very disrespectful. She did that interview alongside her close friend Lady Ann. In the interview, she fondly recalls the first days of Sting and also how she made sure to respect herself throughout her career. She added that this might have affected how many shows she got for the year as an artiste.

Sister Charmaine, whose real name is Charmaine McKenzie, did not shy away from a challenge and often clashed with male deejays as her career progressed. She was known for tracks like “Hol A Rest,” “Community Girl,” “Hol A Kuff,” and “Wake Up.” She eventually moved to New York in 1990. She was 54 years old at the time of her death today and is survived by her daughter, Kadisha, and a granddaughter. Our condolences go out to her family.