In 1996, Carlene Davis got the diagnosis many women dread. She had breast cancer. At the time, her career as a reggae singer held strong. But the singer soon changed course to answer a spiritual calling. Now an ordained minister, Davis continues to spread the good word on her latest album “The Assignment.” Released on November 11 through VP Records, this marks her eleventh gospel album.
The 65-year-old singer said she embraced christianity before her medical challenges. But even then ending her career never felt like an option. “I don’t ever recall a time I thought of giving up singing. The answer to that is definitely no,” she stated.
She produced the album with her husband Tommy Cowan, the veteran music industry insider. He helped guide the transition from dancehall to Christianity of other acts like Junior Tucker and Papa San.
The new album also marks a return to other artist collaborations. Guitarists Stephen “Cat” Coore and Dalton Browne, former Wailers keyboardist Tyrone Downie, saxophonist Dean Fraser and bass guitarist Lloyd Parks also played on this latest album. And Davis also collaborated with Marion Hall (FKA Lady Saw) on on the new track, “Pray for Me.”
In the last 15 years, Davis and Cowan have been at the forefront of major gospel events in Jamaica. They perform at events such as Fun In The Son and Denbigh Gospel Extravaganza, which attract thousands. They introduced her music to new fans not born in her pop heyday with tracks like “Dial my Number.”
Born in Clarendon, Davis lived for over 15 years in the United Kingdom and Canada before returning to Jamaica in the late 1970s. She considers the last two decades of her life and career as the most satisfying.
“I am a better person because the words I bring is life over death,” says Davis. “I am able to be part of something bigger than me.”
“The Assignment marks Davis’s follow-up to “Dripping Blood,” her 2015 album that entered the Billboard Reggae Album Chart.