Shellie as she likes to call herself was one of two female musical artists in roots and culture/dancehall reggae who blazed a trail in New York City's reggae dancehall scene during the 1980s

Dancehall History: The First Lady of NYC Dancehall/Reggae celebrate 50 years

Shelly Thunder in the 80s

Jamaica’s street music best known as ‘Dancehall’ has a ‘rich’ history. Several artistes in the genre, made names for themselves across the United States of America from in the 70s and 80s. A male dominated genre, newest Dancehall fans would more readily identify male dominating Dancehall artistes during those era than females. 

Shelley Thunder was once a leading Dancehall artiste in the late 80s. Her break out song Kuff produced by Henry Whitfield became an instant hit in Jamaica in 1988.  Ms Michelle Harrison aka Shelly Thunder, recently celebrated her 50th birthday, life and music in New York. A moment worth mentioning, here are some excerpts taken from a piece written by Sam Evan Smith about the first lady of NYC dancehall/reggae, Shelly Thunder and as featured on, “Reggae History and Articles” Jamaicans Dot Com.

An accomplished DJ/sing-jay Tunda” Shellie as she likes to call herself, was one of two female musical artists in roots and culture/dancehall reggae who blazed a trail in New York City’s reggae dancehall scene during the 1980s, a period when the city established its presence as one of the center of reggae music on the world stage.  Along with Sister Carol aka ‘Mother Culture’ the edutainment guru of reggae roots and culture, Shelly, dominated NYC dancehall/reggae, like no other female in the decade of the 80’s. Both Shelly and Sister Carol have the distinction of also being successful actresses in local theater and Hollywood respectively 

Shelly became the first lady of NYC dancehall/reggae as she crossed over to a wider audience. Her breakout hit “Shock mi a Shock” on the Music Master Label peaked at #1 on the US reggae charts. Then came a slew of hit singles such as “Small Horsewoman”, “85 Vision” and “Man A Rush Me.” From Mango Records debut CD “Fresh Out The Pack” came dancehall anthem “Kuff”, “Working girl”, and “Break Up To Make Up.” This string of success parachuted Thunder’s career to international dancehall alongside such artists as Shabba Ranks, Super Cat and Patra. 

Well, that’s before Shelly Thunder became a Christian sometime in 199-1993. She gave up singing women liberated tracks to giving praise to the Lord in songs. 

50 years later….

Shelly Thunder at 50

I am very honoured to be in the company of everyone, and deem this an honour and I do feel blessed and humbled to share this special time in my life with everyone present” she told friends, family and well wishers at her birthday celebrations.

In the house to celebrate Shelly Thunder’s 50th, were her husband and ace selector Rohan “Apache Finga” Timol and daughter, musical family, NYC based vocalists Junior ‘Willow’ Wilson and Teddy Brown, Sidney Mill (KRS1 and Steel Pulse) and Wayne Chin (both worked on her “Fresh Out The Pack” album), fellow Dancehall artiste, Little Twitch, school mates from Harbour View Primary and Excelsior High schools in Jamaica, as well as the Borough of Manhattan college and the New Lots Family.

After having a blast, the former dancehall diva ended the night’s proceedings singing words of praise and exhortation for the Kingdom of God and encouraged those in attendance of her 50 Birthday celebration to establish a relationship with Christ.  

Read: Shelly Thunder Celebrates 50th Milestone

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