Rhoda Dakar

Musician — London

Rhoda Dakar performing with The Specials, London, November 2016

Name
Rhoda Dakar

Where are you from?
Laandan. Born in the London Borough of Hampstead, now part of Camden, growing up in Brixton, in Lambeth. So, born north, grew up south and my Grannie lived in Gloucester Road, west London, where I spent lots of time. East London, apart from Petticoat Lane market, was a mystery to me until I was in my 30s!

What do you do?
Music - I sing, write, play, DJ and teach it.

Describe your style in three words?
Smart, quirky, colourful.

Best gig you have ever been to?
Luther Vandross supporting Chaka Khan, in New York, August 1981. I was in New York with The Specials and ‘Never Too Much’ was on the radio about every ten minutes, it seemed. Nobody minded, it was a great tune. We were offered guest tickets for Chaka Khan and Luther Vandross was the support. He was brilliant. However, the best ever moment at a gig came when he sang the opening lines, “Never too much, never too much, never too much”. The crowd absolutely lost their minds! Chaka Khan had to follow it and wasn’t on the best form, sadly. August Darnell (Kid Creole) was head of our party and insisted we leave!

The most influential British single ever released?
Tough one, but I’ll go for ‘Anarchy In The UK’. So much British music is influential on the world stage, but this one spread the word far and wide. It didn’t introduce Punk in the UK, it was already happening, but it sent the idea around the world. I know The Beatles did the same sort of thing, but it took more than one single.

If you could play with any musical artist from history?
I’ll probably change my mind tomorrow, but today I’m going for Sam Cooke. The idea of an African American artist and songwriter having his own record label, publishing and then management companies back then was revolutionary. Imagine singing backing vocals on ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’!

What British music icons inspire your sound today?
It’s still Elvis Costello for me. The musical range he explores has got me listening to things I never thought I would even like. Almost Blue, his Country music covers album, showed me that it’s just Soul music by another name. On my latest EP campaign, there’s a free download of our Reggae cover of a Country song. ‘Everyday I Write The Book’ is still one of my favourite EC tracks.


A key artist involved with the 2 Tone label and its output in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Rhoda Dakar was lead singer of The Bodysnatchers and a member of The Special AKA, after the initial break up of The Specials. In 2007 she released a solo album 'Cleaning In Another Woman's Kitchen' and in 2015 revisited her Bodysnatcher era with 'Rhoda Dakar Sings the Bodysnatchers'.

Rhoda Dakar recently joined The Specials on stage for their 2016 UK dates.

What was the first song you played on repeat?
In my dark, melancholy, teenage bedroom, it was probably ‘The Ballad Of Dwight Fry’ by Alice Cooper. Must’ve been an unconscious influence on ‘The Boiler’.

A song from your favourite album?
‘Sweet And Dandy’ by Toots and The Maytals, from The Harder They Come soundtrack album. The film wasn’t bad, but the LP, that was brilliant! I didn’t have a copy, but my surrogate big brothers, Messrs Cook and Jones (Sex Pistols), had a brilliant early Reggae collection and I got to DJ on Sundays round theirs.

One record you would keep forever?
Best Of Bowie, the double CD. It’s got almost everything of his to which I have memories attached, without being vast and burdensome. I loved it when he did ‘Little Wonder’, just picking up on what was current, but not front and centre. Yep, it’s all there and the rest is in my head anyway.

Song that defines the teenage you?
Let’s go for ‘Personality Crisis’ by The New York Dolls. I saw them live in London when I was 14. So they effectively marry my younger and older teenage selves. Younger, because they were part of the Glam scene, which I was into before Punk came along. Older, because their music was clearly a precursor to the edginess of Punk.

Song you wish you had written?
Where do I even start? Well, a great vocal makes me think I’ve heard a great song. Obviously, this is not always the case. I’m very partial to a clever lyric so, married to a brilliant vocal line, I’d have to go with… Nope, no idea. Wait, what about ‘I Will Always Love You’, written and, IMHO, best performed by Dolly Parton. It made a shed load of money, which I wouldn’t turn down right now. Also, we played it at my Mum’s funeral, as she loved the Whitney version. So, whilst not a clever lyric, as such, it’s a beautifully put together, sentimental and yet heartfelt lyric, which Country music does so well.

Four new songs you can’t stop playing now?
So, the first two I can’t have, as they’re not on Spotify, but they still deserve a name check.

'Slew Dem' - Parizien Because I’m a proud mum. The lad’s working hard and this was good enough, as well as having the right sound, to play on the recent Specials UK tour.

'Nah Man' - Anticode Because it’s a tuuune, see above. Reggae infused Grime had everyone jumping in the dressing room.

'Raver’s Delight' - General Roots Support on The Specials UK tour, lovely lads and they back Hollie Cook, another favourite. This features Dennis Bovell, as if that isn’t enough right there. In the olden days, it would have been the ‘obvious single’.

'Betrayer' - The Far East And the Specials theme continues. This band supported them on their US tour. Lovely, lovely vocals. And that’s good enough, really.

'Simba' - Omo Frenchie If you get the chance, check out Omo Frenchie - Makelele Remix ft IRAYMVMT and you’ll be pleased you bothered.

'Take Back The Power' - The Interrupters I love the vibe, the tune, the message and especially Amy’s voice. So, sue me!

Rhoda Dakar performing with The Specials, London, November 2016

Name
Rhoda Dakar

Where are you from?
Laandan. Born in the London Borough of Hampstead, now part of Camden, growing up in Brixton, in Lambeth. So, born north, grew up south and my Grannie lived in Gloucester Road, west London, where I spent lots of time. East London, apart from Petticoat Lane market, was a mystery to me until I was in my 30s!

What do you do?
Music - I sing, write, play, DJ and teach it.

Describe your style in three words?
Smart, quirky, colourful.

Best gig you have ever been to?
Luther Vandross supporting Chaka Khan, in New York, August 1981. I was in New York with The Specials and ‘Never Too Much’ was on the radio about every ten minutes, it seemed. Nobody minded, it was a great tune. We were offered guest tickets for Chaka Khan and Luther Vandross was the support. He was brilliant. However, the best ever moment at a gig came when he sang the opening lines, “Never too much, never too much, never too much”. The crowd absolutely lost their minds! Chaka Khan had to follow it and wasn’t on the best form, sadly. August Darnell (Kid Creole) was head of our party and insisted we leave!

The most influential British single ever released?
Tough one, but I’ll go for ‘Anarchy In The UK’. So much British music is influential on the world stage, but this one spread the word far and wide. It didn’t introduce Punk in the UK, it was already happening, but it sent the idea around the world. I know The Beatles did the same sort of thing, but it took more than one single.

If you could play with any musical artist from history?
I’ll probably change my mind tomorrow, but today I’m going for Sam Cooke. The idea of an African American artist and songwriter having his own record label, publishing and then management companies back then was revolutionary. Imagine singing backing vocals on ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’!

What British music icons inspire your sound today?
It’s still Elvis Costello for me. The musical range he explores has got me listening to things I never thought I would even like. Almost Blue, his Country music covers album, showed me that it’s just Soul music by another name. On my latest EP campaign, there’s a free download of our Reggae cover of a Country song. ‘Everyday I Write The Book’ is still one of my favourite EC tracks.


A key artist involved with the 2 Tone label and its output in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Rhoda Dakar was lead singer of The Bodysnatchers and a member of The Special AKA, after the initial break up of The Specials. In 2007 she released a solo album 'Cleaning In Another Woman's Kitchen' and in 2015 revisited her Bodysnatcher era with 'Rhoda Dakar Sings the Bodysnatchers'.

Rhoda Dakar recently joined The Specials on stage for their 2016 UK dates.

What was the first song you played on repeat?
In my dark, melancholy, teenage bedroom, it was probably ‘The Ballad Of Dwight Fry’ by Alice Cooper. Must’ve been an unconscious influence on ‘The Boiler’.

A song from your favourite album?
‘Sweet And Dandy’ by Toots and The Maytals, from The Harder They Come soundtrack album. The film wasn’t bad, but the LP, that was brilliant! I didn’t have a copy, but my surrogate big brothers, Messrs Cook and Jones (Sex Pistols), had a brilliant early Reggae collection and I got to DJ on Sundays round theirs.

One record you would keep forever?
Best Of Bowie, the double CD. It’s got almost everything of his to which I have memories attached, without being vast and burdensome. I loved it when he did ‘Little Wonder’, just picking up on what was current, but not front and centre. Yep, it’s all there and the rest is in my head anyway.

Song that defines the teenage you?
Let’s go for ‘Personality Crisis’ by The New York Dolls. I saw them live in London when I was 14. So they effectively marry my younger and older teenage selves. Younger, because they were part of the Glam scene, which I was into before Punk came along. Older, because their music was clearly a precursor to the edginess of Punk.

Song you wish you had written?
Where do I even start? Well, a great vocal makes me think I’ve heard a great song. Obviously, this is not always the case. I’m very partial to a clever lyric so, married to a brilliant vocal line, I’d have to go with… Nope, no idea. Wait, what about ‘I Will Always Love You’, written and, IMHO, best performed by Dolly Parton. It made a shed load of money, which I wouldn’t turn down right now. Also, we played it at my Mum’s funeral, as she loved the Whitney version. So, whilst not a clever lyric, as such, it’s a beautifully put together, sentimental and yet heartfelt lyric, which Country music does so well.

Four new songs you can’t stop playing now?
So, the first two I can’t have, as they’re not on Spotify, but they still deserve a name check.

'Slew Dem' - Parizien Because I’m a proud mum. The lad’s working hard and this was good enough, as well as having the right sound, to play on the recent Specials UK tour.

'Nah Man' - Anticode Because it’s a tuuune, see above. Reggae infused Grime had everyone jumping in the dressing room.

'Raver’s Delight' - General Roots Support on The Specials UK tour, lovely lads and they back Hollie Cook, another favourite. This features Dennis Bovell, as if that isn’t enough right there. In the olden days, it would have been the ‘obvious single’.

'Betrayer' - The Far East And the Specials theme continues. This band supported them on their US tour. Lovely, lovely vocals. And that’s good enough, really.

'Simba' - Omo Frenchie If you get the chance, check out Omo Frenchie - Makelele Remix ft IRAYMVMT and you’ll be pleased you bothered.

'Take Back The Power' - The Interrupters I love the vibe, the tune, the message and especially Amy’s voice. So, sue me!

Loading bag contents...