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Susan Cadogan
Susan Cadogan

Susan Cadogan
@ the Indigo 02
23 September 2011

Click an image to enlarge.


Susan Cadogan’s voice has been called time after time, the “sexiest voice in Reggae”….soft ,crystal clear and with a breathy yet earthy feel, she has used it over the past 30 years to record some of the most sensual, sentimental and heartfelt rocksteady, reggae and lover’s rock starting with her British smash “Hurt so Good” in 1975.

Born Allison Anne Cadogan on November 2, 1951 in Kingston, Jamaica, she came from a musical family, and her mother, a trained soprano had in fact recorded a number of 78rpm records during her childhood. Her father, a Methodist minister from Belize, The Rev. Dr. Claude Cadogan took the family there during her early childhood years with her elder sister and brother Jean and Mark. Her younger brother Paul was born while she lived in Montego Bay in St. James, Jamaica where it was that she discovered she had a great love for music and sang daily using a broomstick as a microphone. She loved The Platters, Ben. E. King, the Drifters, the Supremes, Dionne Warwick, and Gladys Knight became her favourite singer.

Cadogan attended the St. Andrew High School for Girls and Excelsior College in Kingston, Jamaica and completed the Advanced Level General Certificate of Education (London). Her love of singing never impacted on her life and she little dreamed or even tried to get into the singing business but her best friend’s boyfriend who was a DJ changed her life around.
Theresa Bryan (her best friend from High School days)) worked at the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation record library and introduced her to Jerry Lewis who asked them both to record a song he had written called “Love my Life”. Theresa was quite a singer too but when they eventually went to the “ Black Ark” studios of Lee “Scratch” Perry, Bryan lost her nerve and Cadogan recorded the track solo. Scratch, impressed by her voice, asked her if she knew the song “Hurt so Good” which had been popularised by Millie Jackson. Avid music lover, she of course knew the track and sang it for Perry that very night accompanied by the Mighty Diamonds. He renamed her ‘Susan,’ saying that it was a sexier name and Perry began recording her each weekend, giving her tapes to learn.

Perry’s hard and rootsy rhythms along with the delicacy of Cadogan’s vocals produced the album “Susan Cadogan” released by Trojan records which to this day continues to rouse even the young teenagers as “Hurt so Good” became a classic and has turned Cadogan into one of the icons in reggae music when it stormed up the BBC charts and earned her Silver and Gold discs.
In the spring of 1975 after the Notting Hill Carnival had rocked to the sultry sound of Hurt so Good, Susan was flown into London, her world turned around and round. The song had received virtually no attention from the Jamaican public. It was a different story in Britain, where Perry had licensed the single. An astute remix quickly flew to the top of the reggae chart and the single was picked up by then unknown Peter Waterman who took it into the office of the then popular Magnet records who licensed the single and by March, “Hurt” was sitting in the Top Five of the U.K. national chart. Cadogan was soon on her way to London, where she made several national TV appearances. While there, the singer inked a deal with Magnet, prompting Perry to license his own recordings with her to a variety of small U.K. labels. Amazingly enough, none of these singles charted; however in 1976, Perry handed all his tapes of Cadogan to Trojan, who released them as the sublime “Hurt So Good” album.

At the same time, the singer herself was in the studio recording with producer Pete Waterman of Stock, Aitken & Waterman pop fame. The first fruit of this new union, “Love Me Baby,” barely scraped into the Top 25 in the spring of 1975; its follow-up, “How Do You Feel the Morning After,” did not chart. The response to Cadogan’s album “Doing It Her Way,” released the same year, was equally disappointing, but not perhaps surprising. Roots ruled the roost in Britain and Waterman’s crisp production and lightweight choice of songs (“Swinging on a Star” for example) offended reggae fans and didn't connect with pop fans, either. Cadogan hopefully hung on in Britain until 1977, when after a series of failed singles, she called it a day. She returned home to Jamaica and her old job at the University library.

Out of the blue in 1982, Cadogan was back on the Jamaican chart with a cover of Smokey Robinson’s classic “Tracks of My Tears.” In the intervening years, much of the island’s public had grown weary of roots and its constant carping on cultural themes. Social fatigue had set in and many listeners now wanted a change, as a result, a new style had sprung up: lovers rock. Richly romantic, gentle, and soothing, it was perfect for Cadogan’s own stylings.

Over the next couple of years, the singer stamped her imprint across the island’s chart. “Tears” was followed by two more hits in 1982 — “Piece of My Heart” and “Love Me.” She topped the chart the next year with an exquisite duet with Ruddy Thomas, “(You Know How to Make Me) Feel So Good,” and the pair followed that up with a second smash, “Only Heaven Can Wait.” In 1984, Cadogan on her own delivered up two further chart winners, “Cause You Love Me Baby” and “Don't Know Why.”

Then, just as swiftly as she had appeared, the singer vanished, leaving the music industry entirely. It was almost a decade before she resurfaced; this time accompanied by English producer Mad Professor (Neil Fraser). In 1992, her magnificent version of “Together We Are Beautiful” was included on the producer’s 12th anniversary compilation, celebrating his own Ariwa label. Like Perry before him, Mad Professor left his own production eccentricities behind and brought out the best in Cadogan for her 1992 album, Soulful Reggae, another cover-heavy set that showcases the singer’s exquisite vocals.

The following year, she recorded another track “Take time with me” for Ariwa’s “This Is Lovers Reggae, Vol. Three” compilation, guest -starred on Mad Professor’s Dub Maniacs on the Rampage, and even joined legendary DJ U-Roy for his new version of her old hit “Hurts So Good.” In 1995, British singer Jimmy Somerville took this song back to the U.K. charts with his own take on the song she’d made her own. Cadogan herself returned that same year with an excellent new album, Chemistry of Love which had been recorded from 1989 in Jamaica.

In 1998, Cadogan was lured back into the recording studio by Ruddy Thomas and the album “Stealing Love” was recorded for Bruce White of British-based Creole Records with Thomas doing production. The album was released in early 1999 (as a combination album with solo Ruddy Thomas tracks included) on the Rhino Label and a re-recording of “You Know How To Make Me Feel So Good” was released as a single.....Codagon was never given anything at all for either recording , on ensuing sales or licensing of any of the tracks from this album.

Codagon remained silent for the following years back at work in the Library in Jamaica and then at the Orange Public Library, in New Jersey. She linked up with Glen Adams in New York and they began working on some new material.

In 2003 Capo Records released a new album “The Rhythm In You”, produced by Glen Adams and Susan Cadogan. In the summer of 2003 she went on a marathon 34 date European tour with New York Ska band The Slackers and Adams. Cadogan received roaring audience response as the “Queen of Lover’s Rock” lived up to her “sexiest” voice reputation and dynamic performance level. One critic called her set at Dingwall’s club in London “fantastic”. She headlined the Lover’s Rock night of the Lee “Scratch” Perry Meltdown Festival in London in June that year and received a standing ovation from the audience as they danced and sang along to her megahit “Hurt So Good”....one critic claiming that her voice was “sexy enough to drive a man mad”!

Susan Cadogan continues to record and perform endorsing her international reputation as the first “Queen of Lovers Rock” and a Reggae Icon.

Susan Cadogan

Susan Cadogan

Susan Cadogan

Victor Romero Evans & Susan Cadogan

Susan Cadogan & Victor Romero Evans

Susan Cadogan & Victor Romero Evans



Hurt So Good

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