Enid Cumberland

Enid Cumberland, half of the duo Keith and Enid.

Enid Cumberland, half of the duo Keith and Enid.

We may know Enid Cumberland from her duos with Keith Stewart. But few know that Enid was with Studio One for over four decades–not as a performer, but as a studio employee. Of course you can read an entire chapter on Enid Cumberland in my newest book, Songbirds: Pioneering Women in Jamaican Music which is available through this website, skabook.com, but here are a few excerpts from that chapter, to celebrate Enid’s long career in Jamaican music.

Enid Cumberland lives alone today in Stony Hill and she remembers her childhood with a sense of humor. Born on December 11, 1930, Enid is still whip smart, active, and filled with love. “My mom had eleven of us—can you imagine?” she recalls. “My daddy was a soldier in the army and at that time it was King Edward the eighth. When my mommy used to go out she had to leave some of us with grandma or she had to share us with somebody because we were so plenty. My mother was part African and my daddy was Jamaican and part Jewish and we have a mixture, some darker than some.”

Enid was given special opportunities in school—opportunities like singing for the school choir. She also sang in church—her own and others. “We grow up Roman Catholic but I never understood much of that, to be frank. It was in Latin and there’s a lot of Latin. I always go to all churches because I can sing and my friends would have a concert and ask me if I could come and sing and I say you have to ask my mommy and daddy so they give information and come and take me. And I wasn’t a person that was scared. I show off when I’m singing! (laughs) And they say, ‘Oh this little girl! She can sing like a big woman!” But it wasn’t until after graduation from school that Enid really got her start. It was at Vere John Opportunity Hour, the launchpad for so many careers in Jamaican music, that Enid Cumberland also got her big break into the world of show business. “I sing for Vere Johns when I was 20 or 22, something like that, but I found a partner. His name was Keith Stewart and we did a few hits and we were recognized in Jamaica over time,” she says.

Enid also continued to record, primarily as a duo artist, performing songs with Lord Creator at Studio One. Lord Creator, whose real name was Kentrick Patrick, was a calypsonian made popular by his hit song “Independent Jamaica” in 1962. With Enid he recorded “Simple Things,” “Love Lost (Lost My Love),” “I Cried a Lie (I Cried a Tear),” and “Beyond,” all at Studio One in 1963 and 1964. And she also partnered with other artists over the years as they came into the studio, such as Roy Richards and Larry Marshall, but it was all done at Studio One post Keith & Enid breakup and she explains why. “I wanted to have children. Show business I had to leave because you don’t get much. Whatever we did get, it helped up, but that was years ago and it’s whatever they offer you. You cannot survive on it, you know? And I got married and started to have my children and I didn’t bother with the singing outdoors on stage and so on. I started to work at Studio One for Coxsone. Why I did that was because I was sure of my salary and don’t have to wait until someone call me to come do a job. I did supervision. People would come in and backup artists so I show them where they stand and get the microphones and move them up and down. I did that for Studio One for about 40 years. Everybody come here, and some invite me to England, but I think you’re not really suited to that when you have children,” she says.

Enjoy the Keith & Enid classic, “Worried Over You,” a tune in the traditional American R&B style that Jamaican musicians so loved: Worried Over You

“Send Me” was another huge hit for the duo, listen here: Send Me

And here’s an Enid solo, Town & Country Cafe, recorded at Studio One in 1971: Town & Country Cafe

 

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