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Soulful Sundays: The Folkes Brothers

Oh Carolina, The Folkes Brothers

For a long time, I had no idea who The Folkes Brothers were but I knew every beat, every drum lick of their 1960s hit song, Oh Carolina. It was the song that once you heard it at a party, you knew two things: it was late (or early morning, depending on your point of view), and it was time to go home. I’m really not sure how it got that designation.

Oh Carolina, The Folkes Brothers

Oh Carolina, The Folkes Brothers

The Folkes Brothers, John, Mico and Junior, were a group that played mento – Jamaican folk music. Oh Carolina was written by John Folkes and produced by Prince Buster, the first hit record for him. Oh Carolina is regarded as pivotal in the development of ska, rocksteady and reggae music. Prior to the release of the song, Jamaican musicians copied Rhythm & Blues music from the U.S. Oh Carolina was the first to depart from what was the norm. By incorporating African drumming and chanting, done superbly by Count Ossie, a legendary Rastafari drummer, it  created a new Jamaican sound.

In 1993, Oh Carolina was re-released by reggae singer, Shaggy. It goes without saying that I prefer the original version. After Shaggy’s version became an international hit, Folkes and Prince Buster went to court over its authorship – Folkes prevailed.

Take a listen to Oh Carolina.

Oh Carolina,

Oh Carolina honey darling,
Oh, honey, don’t you cry.  

Oh I’m so lonely

Yes, I’m so lonely
Oh, I’m so lonely, Carolina.  

Carolina, my darling,

Oh I wanna talk to you
Oh Carolina, my honey
You know I love only you.

Oh Carolina,

Tan bonita (so beautiful),
Come back and make things right. 

Carolina, my darling,
Oh how I love you
Carolina, my honey,
You know I love only you