VAL JAVIN meets Angie Smith, a performer and writer who has persuaded Dobby Dobson. one of the Caribbean’s biggest ever reggae stars, to perform a concert in Huddersfield
ANGIE Smith remembers as a young girl singing one of her favourite songs using an old stick as a microphone.
“The song was called As I Write This Letter and I used to sing it day and night. I was passionate about it. I was in love with that song,” she said.
“My friends used to try and join in and I used to say ‘No, this is my song.’”
It is a song which for Angie, who lives in Birchencliffe, is packed with nostalgia and memories of her life as a young woman living and growing up in the Caribbean.
Little wonder then that she is counting the days to March 1 when Dobby Dobson, the man whose recording of that song so inspired her, arrives from his home in Fort Lauderdale to sing in Huddersfield.
Dobby has lived in America since the Seventies but originates from Jamaica and is seen as a legendary reggae artist in the Caribbean. He has shared a stage with some of the biggest names in the music business including Fats Domino, Percy Sledge and Ben E King.
These days, he has a passion for other styles of music and is equally comfortable singing ballads and gospel.
“Dobby Dobson is one of the real nostalgia men. I grew up with his music in Jamaica and I always wanted to see him perform live,” says Angie.
“There will be many people in their fifties and sixties who will love to see this man. It is 20 years since he sang in this country and to have him come here is a privilege.”
That he is, is tribute to Angie’s tenacity and contacts. She continues to build her career as a performer and writer while paying the bills through her cleaning job at the Lawrence Batley Theatre (LBT). But she is also keen to see other performers rooted in the Caribbean bringing their music to Huddersfield.
On March 1, Angie will be on stage at the Hudawi in Huddersfield to compère the concert in which Dobby Dobson will take top billing.
“He is really looking forward to coming here. His voice is mellow now with age and this show will bring back so many memories for so many people.”
The Hudawi date will also feature a video version of A Mother’s Frustration, a play written by Angie and staged at the Lawrence Batley Theatre last autumn. Angie’s younger bother, Owen, is the man behind the video camera.
“He videos everything that I do. He follows me around making videos of all the work that I have done.
“A Mother’s Frustration is a reality play but it is also very comical. It is about Miss Nancy, a widowed mother who is trying to raise two daughters struggling against difficult odds,” said Angie.
Angie, who was born in Huddersfield, returned to her family’s roots in Jamaica when she was three and remained in the Caribbean until she was in her thirties when she came back to her home town. She can certainly identify with the frustrations of trying to juggle work, family and her aspirations for a more settled career in theatre. Her 20-year-old son Chadeik is studying at Huddersfield University.
Over the years, Angie juggled a series of jobs to support herself through technical college and to allow her to continue writing and staging plays.
Her plays have been staged on home ground at the LBT as well as at The Drum Theatre in Birmingham. And there are more performances to come in both Birmingham and at the Zion Arts Centre in Manchester where Angie’s writing has been well received.
She’s written and will perform a 10 minute sketch called Negative Positive Woman which will be seen in Manchester on February 29 and in Birmingham on March 2.
There’s another trip to the Drum Theatre in Birmingham in May when performances of A Mother’s Frustration will run over a weekend.
But first comes that event featuring Dobby Dobson which is billed as a Mother’s Day tribute. Angie is hoping that her own Mother’s Day gift might just include hearing what she’s come to regard as her song sung by the man whose voice she was inspired by all those years ago.
Doors open for the Hudawi event on March 1 at 7pm. Tickets on 0790 483 7221 or 07930 645 674.