Barbara Smith, better known as Lady Ann, was the second child of Verona Dacres, and was born in Jubilee, and raised in Western Kingston (also known as Kingston 13). Lady Ann’s first music experiences included listening to, and sneaking into, local roots reggae dancehall sessions circa 1975-1977, featuring sound systems like Black Harmony and Soulatonie.
Lady Ann’s closest musical cohorts in these early days were Little John and Ranking Toyan. Little John is credited to be the first artist to pass the mic to Lady Ann, circa 1978, during a dancehall session held by the original Kilimanjaro sound system.
Other artists which Lady Ann grew up with and was influenced by in these early days include Clint Eastwood, Ranking Dillinger, Trinity, Ranking Joe, Louie Lepkie, Michigan & Smiley, Barry Brown, and Sugar Minott. Lady Ann and these artists would work out on sounds including Stereophonic, Metromedia, Gemini Disco, Lee’s Unlimited, and Romantic HiFi, as well as Kilimanjaro.
Lady Ann began her professional music career in 1978, recording her first songs, Plan Your Family (a combination with Ranking Toyan), as well as Shine Eye Boy, for Don Mais’ Roots Tradition Label.
In 1980, Leon Synmoie invited her to record several songs for the Thrill Seekers label, which ended up as part of her debut album, Vanity (released on the Alvin Ranglin’s GG’s label, which also included the hit single Sataap). Then, in 1981, Lady Ann then teamed with producer Blackbeard to record the song Husband & Wife on the Mr. Tipsy Label.
Between 1981-1982, Lady Ann enjoyed her biggest commercial success up to that date with her song Informer, produced by the legendary Joe Gibbs (as well as an LP by the same name). This song stormed up the local charts, with the song Informer going to #1 single, and the Informer LP going to #1 album in Jamaica. This was history in the making, as Lady Ann was the first female DJ to have a #1 single, as well as the first to have a #1 album. The success of Informer helped to swing her career into high gear, and its popularity led to major international exposure, including tours of the United States, Canada, and the Cayman Islands. Lady Ann’s third LP, Connection, produced by Eric Bubbles (of the African Brothers), was also released at this time (1982-1983). In addition, Lady Ann’s popularity surged to new heights in 1983, when she was named Jamaica’s first female DJ of the year.
After enjoying these successes, she continued to record for the cream of the crop of Jamaica's producers/labels, including Jah Thomas (Midnight Rock), Sly & Robbie (Taxi), Henry “Junjo” Lawes (Volcano), Bunny “Striker” Lee, Jah Life, and Shocking Vibes. Up to this date, Lady Ann has over sixty songs to her credit, including three full length albums. Lady Ann has also graced the stage at music festivals including Sting, Reggae Sumfest, Reggae Carifest, Irie Jamboree, Westchester Reggae Fest, and Hot Shot.
Lady Ann’s latest outing, Bad Gyal Inna Dance, finds Lady Ann in a musical combination with trumpet player/producer/soundsystem operator djMush1 (aka Jeremy Mushlin), formerly of Epitaph/Hellcat recording act The Slackers. Mush 1 currently performs with New York City’s The Scorchers (as band-leader) and the Hungry March Band, as well as the host of the long-running Tunnel One vintage ska & reggae radio program on New York University’s radio station (WNYU 89.1fm New York).
As well as continuing to woodshed and compose new music for the aforementioned acts, djMush1 has now taken matters into his own hands in the recording studio as both an engineer and producer. Mush 1 has covertly been building and assembling rhythm tracks for the past several years, and having built a new recording studio in Flatbush, Brooklyn, in 2006 (Al Paragus), Lady Ann was the first artist whom Mush 1 sought out to voice his new musical creations. Lady Ann’s Bad Gyal Inna Dance is the culmination of Mush 1’s work at Al Paragus studio thus far, and also features guest appearances by Vic Ruggiero (of the Slackers) and St. Edward (son of legendary Studio 1 vocalist Eddie Parkins, of Alton & Eddie fame). Moreover, Bad Gyal Inna Dance also features a cameo appearance by original Roots Radics/Aggrovators/Revolutionairies percussionist Sky Juice, who lends a wicked repeater drum to Lady Ann’s “Run & Come”.
Mush 1 is currently working on new projects with Junie Ranks, Carlton Livingston, Sister Charmaine, Barry Heptone (of the Heptones), as well as new artist Unforgiven. Look out for more of djMush1’s new music on the Al Paragus label imprint in 2008!