Dawn Penn was born on the beautiful island of Jamaica and it was there that she found her love of music. At the age of 8, her Mother sent her to learn to play the piano and she enjoyed her studies, achieving a Grade 7 in Theory, Practical and Rudiments of Music for which she was examined by a representative from the Royal School of Music UK. She also studied the violin.
Dawn’s first recording was in 1966, on which she played the piano whilst singing her original song called “When I’m Gonna Be Free” for Derek Morgan. Dawn also had releases on Prince Buster’s label “Long Day Short Night and “Are You There”. This quickly brought her to the attention of Clement “Sir Coxson” Dodd, owner & producer at Studio One (record label and sound system) and her debut single was recorded a year later for him while she was still in high school. Studio One at that time was at the forefront of Reggae Music in Jamaica and all of the top artists were at Studio One, therefore Dawn had the privilege of working alongside renown artists such as Toots & the Maytals, Bob Marley & the Wailers, Lee ’Scratch’ Perry and Jimmy Cliff to name but a few. The single “You don’t love me” was backed by Tommy McCook and the Skatalites with Jackie Mittoo on keyboards.
In 1970 Dawn left Jamaica for Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. She moved back to Jamaica in 1987 and in the summer of 1992, she was invited to appear on stage at a Studio One 35th anniversary show, where she performed the song “You Don’t Love Me” with Steely & Clevie as backing musicians. This was so well received that she re-recorded her debut single for King Jammy’s in 1992 and for Steelie and Cleavie’s album in 1993. The Jammy’s No, No, No “World A Respect” version featured Bounty Killa akas Rodney Price, Dennis Brown and Ken Booth. The Jammy’s recording proved a dancehall smash on Greensleeves. Steelie and Cleavie’s version crossed over into the mainstream Pop Charts. It was released as the single ‘You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)’ from Her album of the same title, on Atlantic Records over a year later, reaching the charts in the U.S. and Europe, plus hitting No.1 in her native Jamaica, and making No.3 in the UK Singles Chart.
The track is on many compilations and has topped Reggae Charts worldwide. The international success led to “No, No, No the Album being nominated for a Grammy Award in 1994. The Track has been used in advertisements for Nissan and Churchill, the Jamaican movie “KLASH”, TV series “Homicide”, and featured in the US movies “I Spy”, “Party Girl” and “Undercover Cop”. Many Hip Hop artists have sampled the track including the Wu Tang Clan and International Superstars such as Rhianna and Beyoncé have also given a nod to Dawn by covering this track.
In 2001 Dawn was honoured in New York by Caribbean Images with the Martin Luther King Award for her contribution to Music. 2019 saw Dawn once again being recognised for her contribution to music as she received The Boisdale Music Award 2019 for the Best Reggae Artist. ‘No No No’ features on the soundtrack of the 2019 Spike Lee film ‘See you Yesterday’. Dawn regularly performs throughout the UK, Europe and the states. Dawn now has a new touring band ‘The Maticians’, featuring top musicians such as Henry ‘Buttons’ Tenyue (UB40), Gordon Mulrain & Trevor Fagan (Chaka Demus & Pliers), Kevin Sutherland (Alexander O’Neil), Stanley Andrews (Billy Ocean) and Jazwad (Bounty Killer).
Mick Jagger is famously quoted as saying that Dawn Penn’s ‘You Don’t Love Me’ is number 4 in his top ten Reggae Songs. 2022, sees Mary J Blige & DJ Khalid, as well as Buster Rhymes and his son sampling ‘You Don’t Love Me – No No No’. In May Dawn completed a mini tour of the U.S. ending up at Radio City Hall alongside Shabba Ranks, Super Cat, Chaka Demus & Pliers and Junior Reid where she delighted the crowd. After six decades in the business, Dawn is still relevant and satisfying audiences with her instantly recognisable classic hit.