Carroll Thompson is known as “the Queen of Lovers Rock”, having made defining contributions to the genre in the early 1980’s. On her own label Carousel, she released a number of influential singles, such as Make it with you with Sugar Minott, becoming one of the most influential female reggae artists of the era. Thompson returns to Band on the Wall this Friday and we spoke to her ahead of the show about finding her voice and her iconic debut LP Hopelessly in Love.
Your story begins with the traditions of gospel music and congregational singing. How important were your early musical experiences in finding your voice, and are there particular individuals who provided invaluable guidance when you were beginning to learn to sing?
Congregational singing is wonderful way to find your voice – singing in choirs or praise and worship affords the opportunity to sing and blend with all kinds of voices young and old while devolving your confidence and your own sound. My grandmother was a great influence; a minister, singer and choir leader, she guided and encouraged me.
The cover for your chart-topping debut album Hopelessly in Love is included in Covers: retracing reggae record sleeves in London. What do you remember about the day of the shoot and the styling of the photo that has become so recognisable?
It was exciting as [it was] my first ever photoshoot. The photographer brought a fur coat and draped it over me, I felt self conscious and slightly uncomfortable but it became an iconic album sleeve!
Hopelessly in Love was an incredible opening statement for a young artist to make – Souljazz say that it ‘helped define British reggae for a new generation of black British youth’ – were thoughts of its potential impact in your mind at the time of recording, or were you resolutely focussed on the music itself?
I performed Morning of my life, Never Never, Baby I’m a want you and Help me make it through the night. I connect with all the song on his album however these songs especially resonate.