Louisa "Markswoman" Mark
Louisa Lynthia Mark, also known as “Markswoman” (11 January 1960 – 17 October 2009), was a British lovers rock singer, best known for her work between the mid-1970s and early 1980s. Her 1975 single “Caught You in a Lie” is regarded as the first lovers rock single.
Mark was born in Kensal Rise, London to Grenadian immigrant parents, and grew up in Shepherd’s Bush. She had her introduction to the music business initially by working as guest vocalist on Dennis Bovell’s Sufferer sound system, followed by a residency at the Metro club in Westbourne Park, and via “Star Search” talent contests held at the Four Aces club in Dalston, where she won for ten consecutive weeks. Sound-system operator and record producer Lloyd Coxsone provided dub plates for the contestants to sing over at the contests and, in late 1974, provided the fifteen-year-old Mark with her first recording session, at Gooseberry Studios, where she recorded a cover version of Robert Parker’s “Caught You in a Lie”, on which she was backed by Matumbi, the single also being released in Jamaica by Gussie Clarke. “Caught You in a Lie” is considered the first lovers rock single. It gave her an instant hit with reggae audiences, and was followed by a version of The Beatles’ “All My Loving”. Her career was interrupted after a dispute with Coxsone and she concentrated on finishing her studies.
After leaving school, Mark resumed her musical career working with Trojan Records house producer and A&R manager Clement Bushay, and songwriter/arranger Joseph “Tunga” Charles (of Zabandis), releasing “Keep it Like It Is”. She stayed with Bushay for further releases on his own Bushays label including her rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Even Though You’re Gone”, “Six Sixth Street”, and her début album Breakout (1981). She was unhappy with the album, feeling that it had been released before it had been properly finished, and did not record again for over a year. Mark returned to the studio in 1982, recording “Mum and Dad” (arranged by Sly & Robbie).
Mark was voted Artist of The Year in the 1978 Reggae Awards (UK).
On the 18 October 2009 edition of his BBC London radio show, Dotun Adebayo reported that Mark had died of poisoning in Gambia, where she had been residing.
On 20 October 2009, Trojan Records confirmed the story, stating cause of death was a stomach ulcer
Louisa Mark, who has died suddenly aged 49, was one of the most important vocalists of lovers’ rock, a uniquely black British style of romantic reggae that she helped to pioneer during the mid-1970s. Although Mark’s output was not prolific, several of her recordings were immensely popular with local audiences seeking an alternative to the predominant political protest form of Jamaican roots reggae. Her early triumphs paved the way for the success of like-minded peers such as Carroll Thompson, Janet Kay and Deborahe Glasgow. Her hit singles of the 1970s and 80s are rightly regarded as classics of the genre and have never gone out of fashion, being aired continually on community radio stations and at nightclubs decades after their original release.
Mark was the second daughter of Grenadian immigrant parents who had settled in Ladbroke Grove, west London. Her father worked as a builder while her mother undertook factory work before becoming a care assistant to elderly people. While attending Hammersmith county secondary school, Louisa received her introduction to the music scene. In 1973, she was a guest vocalist on Dennis Bovell’s Sufferer sound system, then resident at the Metro club in Westbourne Park. For one so short and so young, she possessed a surprisingly strong and readily identifiable voice, which helped Bovell retain an edge over competing sets.
In 1974, the rival sound system owner Lloydie Coxsone invited Mark to enter Star Search, a weekly talent contest held at the Four Aces nightclub in Dalston, east London, where she won first prize 10 weeks in a row.
That November, Coxsone brought her into Gooseberry studios with Bovell’s band, Matumbi, to record a reggae rendition of Caught You in a Lie, an old R&B hit.
- People In Love
- Moving Target
- 6 Six Street
- Baby Simone
- Even Though You’re Gone
- Funny Guys
- Keep It Like It Is
- Dance And Feel Free
- Used To Be My Man
- Arranged By – Clem Bushranger Bushay
- Backing Vocals – The Heptones (tracks: 2, 7)
- Bass – B. McKenzie, D. Bovell, J. Charles, T. Robinson
- Bongos – Junior Bailey
- Clavinet – D. Bovell, S. Binns
- Drums – Angus Gaye, M. Charles
- Flute – The In Crowd
- Harmony Vocals – Dave Barker, Diego, Louisa Mark, Owen Gray, The Heptones
- Lead Guitar – Joe Charles*, T. Starr
- Lead Vocals – Louisa ‘Markswoman’ Mark
- Liner Notes – Jenny Knight
- Musician – The In Crowd (tracks: 3)
- Organ – D. Bovell, Des Charles, Owen Gray (tracks: 3), S. Binns
- Other [Bongos] – Dragon
- Percussion – The Bushrangers
- Producer – Clem Bushranger Bushay
- Rhythm Guitar – Joe Charles, T. Starr
- Saxophone – Hughie Lascelles
- Sitar – D. D. Patel
- Synthesizer – D. Bovell, Des Charles, S. Binns
- Trombone – Rico, In Crowd, Vin Gordon
- Vocals – Kevin Henry (tracks: 8)
- Breakout (1981), Bushays
- “Caught You in a Lie” (1975), Safari – 7″
- “All My Loving” (1975), Safari – 7″
- “Even Though You’re Gone” (1978), Bushays – 12″
- “Six Sixth Street” (1978), Bushays
- “Caught You in a Lie” (1979), Voyage International – 12″, B-side by Clinton Grant
- “People in Love” (1980), Radic – 12″
- “All My Loving (19??), Voyage International – 7”
- “Caught You in a Lie” (1984), Code – 12″
- “Hello There” (1984), Oak Sound – 12″, Louisa Mark & Zabandis
- “Mum and Dad” (1982), Bushays, 12″
- “Keep It Like It Is” (1986), Trojan – 7″/12″
- “Reunited” b/w “Reunited Stepping Out” with Kevin & The Bushrangers, Bushays, BFM 113, 12″
- “Foolish Fool”, Sky Note, 12″
Mark’s quavering soprano, placed to dramatic effect over Bovell’s exceptional arrangement, brought instant favour, with the single reportedly selling 10,000 copies in a fortnight. An adaptation of the Beatles’ All My Loving followed swiftly, but after a bitter dispute with Coxsone, she retreated from singing for a year and half, during which time she completed secondary school.
In 1977 she joined the revamped Trojan label, working closely with the producer Clem Bushay and the songwriter and arranger Joseph “Tunga” Charles of the band Zabandis, this collaboration yielding Keep It Like It Is. Mark later left the company to work for the newly formed Bushay label, issuing a version of Michael Jackson’s Even Though You’re Gone and another broken-hearted Charles original, Six Sixth Street, which topped the reggae charts, helping her to win Artist of the Year at the 1978 reggae awards.
After the release of People in Love the next year, Mark retreated from the music scene for another extended period. She collaborated with Bushay and Charles again in the early 1980s, but was disappointed by the shape of her debut album, Breakout, which she felt was released before it had been properly completed. She recorded only sporadically from the mid-1980s, as she was wary of the music industry and because her legendary temper made producers reluctant to work with her.