Oh Carolina
The Folkes Brothers (1960) and Shaggy (1993)

Rastafarianism and Ritual, Repetition and Revision

Personnel (1960)
Folkes Brothers:
Miko Folkes - vocal
John Folkes - vocal
Eric Folkes - vocal

Count Ossie - vocal, drums, arranger
Owen Grey - piano
Ronnie Bop - bass drum
Prince Buster - hand-claps
With additional unknown four-person drum circle.

Produced by Prince Buster.
Written by John Folkes.
Recorded at RJR Studios, Kingston, Jamaica, 1960.
Engineering by Cecil Watts.

Buster Records 001

Chart Action: #1 on Jamaican pop charts for several weeks in 1961, and again in 1994. Song is still played among contemporary singles on "Top 40" Jamaican pop radio.

Widely considered the most important single in Jamaican history, The Folkes Brothers' "Oh Carolina" (1960) signifies: the birth of a national Jamaican sound identity ; the most popular Jamaican single of the past ("oldie") ; and the recognition of a Rastafarian sensibility in mainstream Jamaican culture, elaborated through the use of African drum and vocal style.

Sounds from Miami, Soul From New Orleans

Before there was ska, rocksteady, and, reggae, Jamaican popular music and radio culture was filled with the sounds of American Rhythm and Blues and, most prominently, its Jamaican imitation. African-American soldiers stationed there during and after World War II brought records and encouraged radio play of African-American music forms; in addition, powerful radio stations located in New Orleans and Miami reached local radios.

Jamaicans of the post-war years absorbed and embraced those crystal clear broadcasts, learning and playing the music through local bands and at dance parties. However, rather than Signifyin(g) on R&B -- that is, revising its sound, reworking its content, manipulating its meaning with a Jamaican aesthetic -- musicians tried to mimic as closely as possible the sound of Black American music.

The Rastafarian Worldview in Music

Rastafarianism as a political and cultural ideology endorses the adoption of African values and identity. Jamaica's imitation and reliance upon American music irritated the Rastafarian counterculture in the 1950's and early 1960's. Count Ossie - whose drum circle leads "Oh Carolina" (1960) - established a camp at Wareika Hills, Jamaica in 1951. Wareika served as a educational center for both the growth of musical talent and the development of Rastafarian ideology. From the context of this camp - and its ritual of Nyabinghi - emerge the rhythmic and cultural sources of "Oh Carolina".

Nyabinghi

Nyabinghi music played at Rastafarian grounations, which includes drumming of at least three hand drums, chanting, dancing, spiritual use of the holy herb, and praise to Jah Rastafari, are considered the most important and inspirational meeting of Rastafari. The term "nyabinghi" is said to have come from a religious, spiritual, and political movement in East Africa beginning in the 1850's until the 1950 led by a series of spiritually influential women and focused on military actions against white imperialists and colonialists.

Prince Buster contacted Count Ossie about bringing the sound of Nyabinghi ritual to his recording studio. British producer Chris Blackwell says of "Oh Carolina"'s origins in ritual: "the music reflects the cultists' perception of the society. The downbeat of the drummer symbolizes the death of the oppressive society but it is answered by the akete drummers with a lighter upbeat, a resurrection of the society through the power of Rastafari" (Barrett 193).

Black Musical Aesthetics At Work

"Oh Carolina" became the first Jamaican single to embrace an African musical heritage. Listen especially for Count Ossie and his drummers polyrhythmic accompaniment; and Owen Gray's R&B styled piano accompaniment, played against the grain of the drum and vocal parts. Epitomizing the tenet of diasporic music form, the recording emphasizes contrast and conflict of rhythm, texture, and timbre, not concordance. "Combining the energy of R&B with the hypnotic repetition of Rastafarian drumming, the throbbing beat is eminently danceable but not frenetic. It was a happy, accidental melding of the right elements at the right time and place." (Chen 87)

Oh Carolina
Folkes Brothers (1960)

Oh Carolina,
Oh Carolina honey darling,
Oh, honey, don't you cry.

Oh I'm so lonely
Yes, I'm so lonely
Oh, I'm so lonely Carolina.

Carolina, my darling,
Oh I wanna talk to you
Oh Carolina, my honey,
You know I love only you

Oh Carolina,
Tan bonita (so beautiful),
Come back and make things right

Carolina, my darling,
Oh how I love you
Carolina, my honey,
You know I love only you


The career of Shaggy (born Orville Richard Burrell in Kingston, Jamaica, 1968) began as a result of his success in the United Kingdom with his dancehall version of "Oh Carolina" in 1993. Through "Oh Carolina", Shaggy engages in a Signifying ritual through self-conscious repetition and revision (with difference) of early Afro-Carribean vocal style and sampling from the original Folkes Brothers single, while immersing the song in his "dog-a-muffin" style.

Personnel (1993)

Produced by String International.
Written by Shaggy and Folkes Brothers.
Engineering by Nass Hackett, Speedy, and Robert Livingston.
Jimmy Delgado - percussion
Arthur Sharp - saxophone
Samples:
1. "Oh Carolina" (1960)
2. Ray Anthony - "Peter Gunn Suite" (1959, Pop #8)

Released Aug 24, 1993 for Virgin Records.

Chart Action: #1 in Jamaica and Britian (2 weeks).

Oh Carolina
Shaggy (1993)
Carolina, wine your body gal
Make dem know say you have it fi mad dem

Oh Carolina (Prowl off, jump an prance)
Oh Carolina (Prowl off, jump an prance)
Oh Carolina gal prowl off
Gal yuh fi jump an prance (Prowl off, jump an prance)

Carolina come bubble 'pon me
Oh watch how she groove
Carolina come wine 'pon me
Oh watch how di gal groove

Oh Carolina (Prowl off, jump an prance)
Oh Carolina (Prowl off, jump an prance)
Oh Carolina gal prowl off
Gal yuh fi jump an prance (Prowl off, jump an prance)

Oh Carolina is a girl
She dey pon top a di world
An now she rock her body
Anna move just like a squirrel
I say young baby girl
I said I love how yuh move
Yuh just a rock to di riddim anna riddim anna move
An now yuh know di girl

Oh Carolina (Prowl off, jump an prance)
Oh Carolina (Prowl off, jump an prance)
Oh Carolina gal prowl off
Gal yuh fi jump an prance (Prowl off, jump an prance)
Oh Carolina (Prowl off, jump an prance)
Oh Carolina (Prowl off, jump an prance)
Oh Carolina gal prowl off
Gal yuh fi jump an prance (Prowl off, 1 -2 - 3 ! )

Carolina come bubble 'pon me
Oh watch how she groove
Carolina come wine 'pon me
Oh watch how di gal groove
Oh Carolina (Prowl off, jump an prance)
Oh Carolina (Prowl off, jump an prance)
Oh Carolina gal prowl off
Gal yuh fi jump an prance (Prowl off, jump an prance)

Well how me love how she shock
Watch how she rock
Model it a swing
Like mi grandfather clock
Gal, move yuh body
Make man dem drop
Bumper jus' a move
It jus' a cause roadblock

Oh Carolina (Prowl off, jump an prance)
Oh Carolina (Prowl off, jump an prance)
Yes, Oh Carolina (Prowl off, jump an prance)
Carolina, Carolina, Oh Carolina (Prowl off, jump an prance)
All di Brooklyn gal dem
Dem know fi jump an rock
(I say) Di Flatbush Gal dem
Know how fi get up and rock (Get up an rock)

Sources
Barrow, Steve and Peter Dalton. Reggae: The Rough Guide. London: Rough Guides Ltd., 1997.
Chang, Kevin O'brien and Wayne Chen. Reggae Routes. Jamaica: Ian Randle Publishers, 1998.
Potash, Chris. Reggae, Rasta, Revolution. New York: Schirmer Books, 1997.

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