Ska music singer Millie Small:My Boy Lollipop Dies

Millie Small the singer most famous for the international hit single, My Boy Lollipop which peaked atop both the UK and US charts in 1964 died on May 6.

Millie Small glowing in the late 60’s

The hit single which skyrocketed Small into the spotlight remains one of the best selling ska songs of all time and the first international hit for the ska music genre.

Small, was just a teenager of 16, in 1963 when Island Records founder, Chris Blackwell decided to become her manager and bring her to the UK. With her mother’s permission granted, Blackwell became the teen’s guardian and took her from her the small Caribbean island of Jamaica to London. Small would go on to become the first female recording artist hailing from the Caribbean to score a top international hit for the label.

Millie flashes a smile

“I would say she’s the person who took ska international because it was her first hit record,” Blackwell tells they Jamaica Observer .

The singer, born Millicent Small, won a talent contest at aged 12 and by her early teens was recording with the famed Sir Coxsone Dodd at his Studio One label in Kingston, Jamaica.

Blackwell who travelled with Millie around the world recalled his time with the singer.

“Each of the territories wanted her to turn up and do TV shows and such, and it was just incredible how she handled it,” says Blackwell .

“She was such a sweet person, really a sweet person. Very funny, great sense of humour. She was really special,” adds Blackwell.

After the success of My Boy Lollipop, Millie was not able to follow up with another song to rival it’s success. Quitting the music industry in 1970 she relocated to Singapore then New Zealand. Fading from the limelight she reappeared in a 1987 Thames TV news brief alongside her then toddler daughter Jaelee revealing that they were residing in a hostel. That same year Island Records reissued My Boy Lollipop as part of it’s 25th year celebration.

In a August 20, 2016, story titled ‘Where Are They Now’ published in the Daily Mail Express the singer is quoted looking back on her career, leaving the music industry and being a mom.

“I arrived in London in 1963, and it felt like I was coming home, that this was where I was meant to be.  

“I made a few songs, which didn’t go anywhere, and then I recorded My Boy Lollipop in 1964, which got to number two over here and number one in many parts of the world. I never had singing lessons, my voice was just something I was born with.”

“I focused on being a mother from 1984, when my daughter was born, and since then I’ve been happy living a quiet life, sleeping and dreaming and meditating.  

“I enjoy cooking – anything with chicken, pork and fish with rice – and watching documentaries. I’ve got five beautiful cats, too.  

“I don’t miss those 60s days. I enjoyed it while it lasted and it represented a time of pure happiness but I look to the future now that I’m older and wiser.  

“I love music – reggae, hip-hop, anything that’s got rhythm. And I still play My Boy Lollipop because it’s a lovely record.  

“My daughter and I are very close and I’m proud of her achievements as a writer, singer and musician; it would be nice for us to sing together one day as mother and child.”   

Reflection s and praises of Millie poured in on social media and from many globally. Jamaican Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, the Hon. Olivia Grange issued a press release stating, “Millie’s story is one of resilience and the strength of the human spirit. She took the sweet with the bitter as she navigated the music industry at a time when Jamaican music and Jamaican female artistes were still new concepts to the world.”

Millie and her daughter at an Island Records UK presentation with the former Prime Minister of Jamaica,the late Hon. Edward Seaga and Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Hon. Olivia Grange

Grange added , “Jamaica will remain eternally grateful to Millie Small as she paved the way for Ska to explode on the world scene through numerous television appearances around the world, including the BBC’s Top of the Pops. Her unique sound attracted audiences around the world and turned attention on Jamaican music, which allowed other genres to break through internationally.”

Buzz

A GO-TO COMFORT FOOD DURING A SNOWY BLIZZARD…CURRIED CHICK PEAS INDIAN STYLE OF COURSE! by Debra Lewis-Boothman

A GO-TO COMFORT FOOD DURING A SNOWY BLIZZARD…CURRIED CHICK PEAS INDIAN  STYLE OF COURSE!  by Debra Lewis-Boothman

I love Indian food especially in the  wintertime. It is my comfort food of choice . Choosing a healthier  eating lifestyle was one of my new year resolutions and since Jan 1  I have  been eating more fruits, salads and chick peas. Yes,  I did say CHICK PEAS!

Chick Peas the beans of life
Chick Peas the beans of life

After threading  through yesterday’s high winds and freezing snow and gaining  frozen toes and fingers  while heading  to pick my kids up from school  I  decided when we arrived home that I needed to  spice up  some chick peas and make the  hubs and I a spicy  Indian style  curried chick pea delight to chow down on . I needed a comfort food.

Heading home from  school  in the  snowy blizzard of 2015
Heading home from school in the snowy blizzard of 2015

I found  a curried potato chick pea recipe on foodnetwork.com  added a few of my own caribbean spices  and got  down to my culinary skills in the  kitchen.

Cooking up the  curried Chick Pea dish
Cooking up the curried Chick Pea dish

I would eat chick peas  every day if I had my way. They are delicious and not too heavy on the stomach, plus they are rich in fiber. Thinking back, I remember as a kid how  I  hated the weird distinct taste   especially when my grandma would serve them with dinner. Many times unbeknownst to her,  or so I thought, I would rake them off my  plate and  hide them in a napkin on my lap so I wouldn’t have to eat them. In  retrospect, I think grandma knew what I was doing but never said a word. So I am not too upset  that my now 8 and 7-year olds are not  turned on by  eating the small bean preferring instead to eat it as  chickpea hummus. At least they are still getting its valuable nutrients.

Making a curried chick pea meal is one of the  quickest  to prepare- with cooking times  of 15 minutes  and prep time of 20 minutes . I set forth to prepare  this  recipe which  is one of the easiest  and can be  a favorite on any  vegetarian, vegan or meat lovers plate.

The Chick Pea or Garbanzos Beans as my  South American peeps call them is one of the healthiest beans available.  For those who love their food spicy I say bring on the curry and the scotch  bonnet  pepper and make this baby indian style.

Quick and Easy way to make. Get  it in the can.Goya is a great brand but you can choose most others as well. You can use  dry chick peas but you will have to soak them for hours  or overnight or boil them.

Chick Peas aka Garbanzos beans is one of the world's healthiest foods that is rich in fiber. Great food for Diabetics.
Chick Peas aka Garbanzos Beans aka Chana -is one of the world’s healthiest foods that’s rich in fiber. Great food for Diabetics.

Known for its rich fiber benefits it is no wonder there is always some choice of chick pea or Chana  as my Indian  friends call it  being offered on the menu of restaurants in India . In fact chickpeas has long been a staple of the  daily diet in India.

Some of my favorite cities  with Indian restaurants that  make the best curried chick pea  meals can be found in  Covent Garden  or amongst  London’s Brick Lane curry  houses as well as in  New York City and  Chicago.

RECIPE  FOR CURRIED POTATOES AND CHICK PEAS  courtesy of The Food Network Magazine and updated to include ingredients  added by crownheightsmom.

Ingredients
1 1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
Kosher salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 15 -ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups fried onions (one 2.8-ounce can)
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for topping
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 jalapeno pepper, thinly sliced (remove seeds for less heat)...–NOTE: I used Jamaican scotch bonnet peppers instead of Jalapenos and I added fresh garlic, scallions, thyme and a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger. I also ncluded   1 teaspoon of Cumin.

Cook your chick peas slow and steady.

Directions
Put the potatoes, 2 teaspoons salt and enough cold water to cover in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are almost tender, 3 to 6 minutes. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain the potatoes.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and cayenne and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.

Add the chickpeas, 1 cup fried onions, garlic, thyme, scallions and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water; cook, mashing the potatoes with a spoon( I did not mash my potatoes), until heated through, about 3 minutes. Add more cooking water, if needed. Season with salt.

Mix the yogurt, chopped cilantro, lime juice and 2 tablespoons water in a bowl. Divide the potato-chickpea mixture among bowls. Top with the yogurt sauce, the remaining 1 cup fried onions, the sliced jalapeno and cilantro leaves.

Curried chick peas and potatoes smell so good and  the  peppery flavor of the scotch bonnet peppers gives it  a kick.
Curried chick peas and potatoes smell so good and the peppery flavor of the scotch bonnet peppers gives it a kick.

Almost ready  to eat and a dish I am sure  renowned chef  and Hell’s Kitchen mentor Gordon Ramsay would love.

Yummm…all spicy and ready to be devoured

You can choose to eat  your  curried chick peas alone, with flat bread, a salad or on top of rice -basmati or  parboiled,  or  a pasta  of  your choice.  I paired mine on top  of Penne and it was delicious! The  spicy  kick from the scotch bonnet peppers  hit the  spot. I was warmed  all over.

We enjoyed alongside a  glass or red!

Alongside a glass of red wine
Alongside a glass of red wine