Interview with ...

Donovan Germain has always known how to choose the best background vocalists - like Juliet Nelson, Twiggi or Nikki Burt - for his productions in his studios as on stage.
Dorrett Wisdom, better known under her artist name Dwisdom, is one of them. She also recorded some singles for Penthouse at the late 90s. Let's go back to her career and her collaboration with Donovan Germain.

(December 2009 -

Could you please introduce yourself to those reggae fans who don't know you as yet.
My name is Dorrett Wisdom, singing name Dwisdom. I'm 40 years old. I grew up in Portmore St Catherine and I still live in Jamaica.

When and how did you start your musical career ?
My singing career started out entering talent shows. Then I was discovered in 1988 by Herbert "Pablo" Stewart, a former musician from the group Kotch and brother of Willie Stewart, former member of the group Third World. He produced my first song called "My First Real Love" for Peak label in 1991, written by me. The song topped the RJR Top 40 chart for 5 straight weeks and I earned the JAMI Award for Best New Artiste in 1992. Then I went on to do an album with Willie that was never released... So I was very much a lead singer before going on to be a background singer. I did one or two shows before I started backing other people.

You have a certain soulful smooth vocal style. Were you influenced by other singers ?
Iíve listened to singers like Patti Label, Whitney Huston, Lisa Fisher, Regina Bell, Luther Vandross, Beres Hammond, Lionel Richie, a lot of old school, singers with soul.

Have you ever taken any singing lessons ?
No, I've never.

Did you learn to sing at Church like many jamaican singers ?
I would sing at church when I was living with my great grandmother for a while, but I wouldnít say that I learnt to sing at church and I've been singing there since. My grandmother and my aunt have a great voice and I guess I just got that from them.

You write many love songs. Where do you find your inspiration ?
My inspiration from writing these songs came from my own experience and just being young and in love back then (laughs).

You started to work for Donovan Germain's Penthouse label in 1997. How did you get connected ?
A friend of mine Michelle Jackson, who also worked with Buju Banton as a backing vocal connected me with Donovan Germain.

Did you integrate the Penthouse team as a background vocalist or directly as a lead vocalist ?
I was there to do the backing vocals for Buju Banton. After that I started to record for Donovan.

Here we are, could you tell us more about this experience with Buju Banton.
It was great, I really enjoyed working with Buju back then, in studio as on stage. I also did backing vocals for Jah Mali when he was touring with Buju.

Do you remember the other artists for whom you did backing vocals ?
Luciano, Anthony B, Daíville... I canít remember they were so many.

Tell us about the 4 singles you recorded for Penthouse.
"Somebody Tell Me" was inspired from a past relationship I had. Missing the person made me wondering if I was ever going to meet someone like that again...Young and in love (laughs).
I did "Telling You" with Buju Banton, a combination version of "Somebody Tell Me".
"Pride & Dignity" was written by my mom. I guess she was telling her story and I could relate to it (laughs).
"The Party Is Jumping" was written by Peter Morgan. I liked that song, it was a party song and I wanted something different from the usual love songs. This is a song that I would still do when touring with Beres Hammond and the crowd really loved that song.
My writing had to be real, so when I sing I can put some real feelings into it.

What is Donovan Germain's singularity comparing to other producers ?
There's not much differents with Donovan and other producers. Most of the time you get the music and you have to write a song. It's not as if we start from scratch.

You recorded in Penthouse studios with Steven "Lenky" Marsden. Can you tell us a little more about him and his way of working ?
Lenky is a good musican. He's creative and one of the things I would admire about him is that he always practices so he would always have something new to give you. Creative as usual and he knows what he wants to hear.

You left Penthouse in 2000 for Harmony House. Tell us about the connection between Harmony House and Penthouse. Beres Hammond and Donovan Germain are very close, aren't they ?
I think they are close because of the music. Donovan produced some of the songs of Beres, and it always seems to be a hit. I think that's where the closeness comes in.

How a reggae artist can make money in these tough economical times ?
I think they would have to be touring to make some money, who knows, or have a second job on the side.

Despite your talent and your experiment, you are rather not very exposed, like the majority of the female artists in Jamaica. How do you explain that women do not have as much credibility as men in the reggae music industry ?
Well I'm not one to hang out at studios and I think I was shy and reserved, some would say I'm antisocial. The thing is some of these artist would sing anything to be famous and I won't do that. I also needed a good managing team. Men are always the dominant ones so they would get through faster than a female, and they own the music industry here in Jamaica...

How many singles did you recorded for Harmony House ?
I did only one song for Harmony House. It was a cover of one of Beres Hammond's song called "If There's A Song".

Tell us more about your collaboration with Nicky Tucker who also does backing vocals for Harmony House.
Well we listen to each other and we just put our feelings into it. We recorded a song together in 2002 "Win Or Lose" (sometimes called "One Life To Live") under the name of ďHarmony House SingersĒ with also Melissa Simpson.

Do you still work with Harmony House ?
This year was my last year with Harmony House. I came back from tour this September and that was it. Now Iím moving on to other stuff.

What a typical day looks like for you nowadays ?
A typical day for me is getting my daughter off to school and do some sketching for my clothing line that I'm trying to get off the ground. Starting out small for now. I'm here trying to stay alive on something that I love : clothes !!!!

Whatís the most important lesson youíve learned so far in regard to Jamaicaís music industry ?
Iíve learnt that in this music business you need to have a backup, no matter what. At least, you'll have something to fall back on in case the music didnít go your way.


- Pride & Dignity (1998 - Right Time riddim)
- Somebody Tell Me (1998)
- Telling You with Buju Banton (1998)
- The Party Is Jumping (1999 - Things & Time riddim)

listen to these singles :