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Biography of Chevelle Franklyn: The Dancehall Queen of Gospel Reggae

Born in Jamaica, Chevelle Franklyn began her music career at the age of 14. In her late teenage years, she'd become a reggae artist to be reckoned within her home country. In her early twenties, she'd become an international reggae artist - joining the ranks of Shaba Ranks and Beenie Man.

However, in 1998, Franklyn told the audience that had gathered to be entertained by her that she couldn't continue singing secular songs. She'd made up her mind to become a follower of Jesus, that is, a Christian.

A Gospel reggae artist, songwriter, and producer, Franklyn has toured many countries, and collaborated with various Gospel artists.

This is her story from a secular reggae artist to a minister of God.

Her Early Life

Fanklyn was born on March 4, 1974, in Tawes Pen, St. Catherine, Jamaica. The fourth born in her family, she, together with her 6 siblings, were raised single-handedly by their mother. Life back then was difficult as their mother wasn't able to cater for all their basic needs.

At the age of 6, Franklyn was adopted by a Christian woman at the request of her mother. Her foster parent raised her up in Christian ways. However, being rebellious back then, Franklyn moved out of her second home at the age 14.

At the age of 15, she dropped out of secondary school due to financial problems and the dire situation at her home. She sought for a job to support herself and her family. She got a job as a music performer - singing in hotels and resorts.

Later, she moved to Kingston and was spotted by a Jamaican reggae producer, Rohan Harrison.

At the age of 14, she recorded her first song but it wasn't released until she reached 17. The song, 'Here I Am,' was produced by Harrison.

Franklyn was nurtured through the expertise hands of Rohan Harrison and Mikey Bennett, Jamaican's dancehall producers, which saw her music career coming to a full swing.

Chevelle Franklyn's Secular Music Career

Her song, 'Nice and Naughty' produced by Harrison and Bennet in 1992 became a hit followed by another single, 'No Pushover,' released in the same year. This saw her collaborating with major Jamaican reggae stars such as deejay Spragga Benz, Shabaranks, deejay Lady G and Beenie Man.

Her collaboration with various reggae deejays and artists upped her fame, both nationally and internationally, mostly in USA and UK. They include: Thank you (1995) with deejay Lady G, Mr. Lover Man (1991) with Shabaranks, and Dancehall Queen (1997) with Beenie Man.

Her Conversion to Christianity

At a tender age of seven, Franklyn heard a voice calling her over and over again but she couldn't fathom what it was all about. It wasn't until sometime later she learnt it's God's voice calling her.

Franklyn had heard stories about Jesus while attending the Hampton Green Missionary Church Sunday School. Back then, she was shy, and as a result, she would postpone the decision to become Jesus' follower. Her rising fame further encouraged her to delay her decision to turn her life around, and become a Christian.

Despite becoming an international celebrity, she felt a sense of emptiness in her life. This emptiness led her to seek Jesus she'd learned of at her younger years.

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In an interview with Tony Cummings, the music editor at Cross Rhythms website, Chevelle Franklyn said that she didn't get saved because nothing was going on in her music career life. She told Cummings, "It was while having the hits I got saved. The reason why I say that is because people would say maybe because nothing was happening in my career was the reason why I became a Christian. But that was not totally true. Christ was missing in my life. I got saved whilst I was touring. I was just empty. Something was missing from my life and I didn't know what it was."

Her turning over the leaf, from being a secular reggae singer to a gospel reggae artist occurred in 1998. She shocked the audience at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, Kingston, when she said that she could no longer continue singing secular songs. She said she was tired of living the secular life which she termed as 'old lifestyle.'

She didn't know she would make a change in the chapter of her life, at that moment, in front of the audience. She had thought of doing that somewhere else. It shocked her but she knew she had to do it.

Tears streamed down her cheeks when she announced her decision to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Her friends were shocked at this unexpected turn of events. Some people stood up and clapped their hands following her decision to become a Christian. Before she left the stage, she sang a song by Kirk Franklin, called, 'Gold and Silver.'

In the interview with Cummings, she said, "I was about to sing 'Dancehall Queen' and I just said to the people, 'I can't do this,' and I started to bawl. The people were staring at me." She told them there is a song she would like to sing instead of the 'Dancehall Queen.' The song was, 'Silver and Gold,' sung by Kirk Franklin.

That night, she went home and committed her life to God.

An Ambassador for the Kingdom of God

Franklyn has produced numerous singles, and has collaborated with various Gospel artists such as deejay (and Pastor) Papa San, Stitchie, Israel Houghton and Donnie McClurkin.

Franklyn was criticized for her inclusion of dancehall element in her Gospel songs. However, her songs, mostly worship, have received positive reception. Other than being a Gospel artist, songwriter and producer, Chevelle also is a preacher of the Word of God.

She has released several albums, among them, Joy (2001), His Way (2006) and Shake It Off (2008).

In an interview with Mark Dawes, a staff reporter at Jamaican Gleaner, Franklyn stated that it wasn't her dream to become a song artist. "Originally I did not choose singing because I loved it. I chose it because I did not have a degree to go and do something else. I chose it because people said, "You don't sound bad, etc., etc. I did it because I think I had a voice at the same time and there was room for me and Mikey Bennett kept pushing me."

Nonetheless, she is very grateful for the transformation in her life, and becoming God's minister in sharing the Good News - the Gospel - through her music, and preaching.

Awards

Franklyn received 12 nominations for her Gospel album 'Joy' in the 6th Annual Carribbean Gospel Music Marlin Awards (2002). She received 5 awards in the following categories:

  1. Outstanding New Artist of the Year
  2. Adapted Recording of the Year
  3. Female Reggae Recording of the Year (for the song, 'Magnify His Name.')
  4. Contemporary Female Vocal Performance of the Year (for the song, 'Joy').
  5. Album of the Year

Personal Life

She got married to Colin Watts in March 2003 after knowing each other through one of her singing tours in UK. Watts is a gospel music booking agent and a concert promoter.


© 2020 Alianess Benny Njuguna

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