You know that feeling you got when your grandma yelled at you? That mix of shock and reverence-fueled obedience? That’s how it feels to watch Jamaican reggae legend Norma Fraser perform. She is so dedicated to making the audience have a good time that she literally gives no other choice. That might not sound like the recipe for success, but it works. Fraser’s style is funky and laid back, pairing reggae beats with covers of popular songs like “Respect” and “The First Cut is the Deepest.” It’s nearly impossible not to get down to the beat and sing along, and for someone whose peers and influences left the music scene long ago, Fraser is still overwhelmingly energetic. It might be easy to feel skeptical about a 60-plus-year-old woman who is proclaiming herself Hot Again! but Fraser is no small-time player.
She started her recording career in Jamaica, recording at Studio One with artists like Bob Marley and the Wailers and The Skatalites. The song “We’ll Be Lovers,” which she recorded with Lord Creator in 1961, stayed at number one on the Jamaican Top 100 for more than a year. It has also been rumored that she taught Rita Marley how to sing, and she may have talked Rita into marrying Bob.
Fraser took a two-decade break from music, during which she got a master’s degree and geared up to come back in ‘94 to release Hot Again! She is currently on the road with the Skatalites. “It’s going well,” she says, “most of the shows have been sold out.”
Norma Fraser plays 8 pm Wednesday, April 25, at WOW Hall; $12 adv., $15 door.