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Biography of Chevelle Franklyn: The Dancehall Queen of Gospel Reggae

Chevelle Franklyn is a household name in many parts of the world. Her reggae music which includes a mixture of dancehall has attracted a huge following especially among reggae fans and particularly the youths.

Not only does her music contain some elements of dancehall, but has also has recorded worship songs in the tune of reggae.

As a Christian minister, she has toured various countries including US, UK, South Africa, Austria, Germany, Holland and Kenya.

Her Early Life

Franklyn, had a humble beginning. She grew in a poor family and poverty-stricken neighbourhood. She was born in 1974 in Tawes Pen, St. Catherine, Jamaica. She was the fourth child in a home consisting of ten children without a father, only her mother to care of them. At the age of 6 she was adopted by a godly woman at her mother's request.

She was brought up in a Christian environment but due to her rebellion, she moved out of her second home at the age of 14.

She dropped out of the Spanish Secondary School at the age of 15 due to financial problems and the dire situation at her home. She had to find a job to support herself and her family. She got a job singing in hotels and resorts.

Later, she moved to Kingston and was spotted by renowned Jamaican reggae producer, Rohan Harrison. Her first single, produced by Harrison was recorded when she was fourteen but wasn't released until she turned 17. The song was titled, 'Here I Am.'

Soon, Franklyn entered into the dancehall scene under the nurturing hands of Rohan Harrison and Mikey Bennett, Jamaicans' dancehall producers.

Her 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 reggae stars such as deejay Spragga Benz, Shabaranks, deejay Lady G and Beenie Man.

Her collaboration with various reggae deejays and artists increased her fame both nationally and internationally (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. She learnt it was the voice of God when she read the Book of Samwel contained in the Bible.

Franklyn had heard 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 accept Jesus as her Lord and Saviour. She would continue to postpone entrusting her life to Jesus when her songs became a hit, and her fame rose locally and beyond.

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 in her music career life. She told Cummings in the interview, "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."

Franklyn shocked the audience at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, Kingston when she said that she could no longer continue singing secular songs - she was tired of the 'old' lifestyle.

She didn't know she would make a change in the chapter of her life in front of am audience. She had thought of doing that somewhere else. It shocked her but she knew she had to do it. One can say that something was stirred in her heart during the show that made her to stop singing secular songs.

After announcing her decision to turn a new leaf in her life and career, she cried. Her friends were shocked at this unexpected turn of events. Some people stood up and clapped their hands at her decision to become a Christian. Before she left the stage, she told the audience that she would like to sing a song. The song was, 'Gold and Silver' sung by Kirk Franklin.

That night, she went home and committed her life to God - invited Jesus into her life.

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.

Her New Career Music

A songwriter, producer and singer, Franklyn began singing gospel reggae songs. Since her conversion to Christianity, she has produced numerous singles and has collaborated with various artists such as deejay Papa San, Stitchie, Israel Houghton and Donnie McClurkin.

Franklyn was criticized for including dancehall genre in her songs. Despite the criticism, she has succeeded in gaining a following and establishing herself as a minister of God through her songs and later, preaching.

She has released albums such as Joy (2001), His Way (2006) and Shake It Off (2008). Some of her songs including those she has collaborated with other artists include Joy from the album with the same title, Glory Halleluyah, I am Free, Walk Holy, Another Saturday Night, Here Comes the Train, Kong Jesus, Woo Wee Jesus, When I Think about You, Magnify His Name and If You Confess.

In an interview with Mark Dawes, a staff reporter at Jamaican Gleaner, Franklyn says that she hadn't intended to get into music arena. "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 obeying God's call has found fulfilment in sharing the Word of God through her music and seeing people turning their lives to God through her music and preaching.

Awards

Her album, 'Joy' led to 12 nominations in the 6th Annual Carribean 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