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Encyclopedia of Popular Music
Colin LarkinColin Larkin


15-16-17 was a female vocal trio formed in 1974 in the UK, although they came from Jamaica. The line-up consisted of Sonia Williams, Christine McNabb and her sister Wraydette McNabb. They entered a talent contest at the Georgian club in Croydon, Surrey, England, performing as the Gorgon Sisters, but changed to 15-16-17 (the name reflecting the girls’ ages) on the advice of the owner of the club, Castro Brown. They won the contest for two weeks in a row with a cover version of Louisa Mark’s lovers rock track, ‘Caught You In A Lie’. With Brown producing, the group recorded ‘If You Love Me Smile’ and ‘Black Skin Boy’, which featured Dennis Bovell. The singles surfaced on Castro Brown’s Morpheus label, which enjoyed considerable support from his patriarchal colleague Dennis Brown. When the label folded in 1976, the trio suffered a setback, but loyally remained with Castro Brown. In 1977, a partnership was formed with Dennis Brown and the D.E.B. (Dennis Emmanuel Brown) label was set up. Castro produced their cover version of the Temptations track ‘Just My Imagination’ as ‘Girls Imagination’. The track was also featured on a DEB showcase compilation Black Echoes, promoted by the weekly music journal of the same name. The single was an instant hit in the reggae charts and was followed by the equally popular ‘Suddenly Happiness’. In 1978 they released ‘Emotions’, ‘Good Times’ and ‘Someone Special’. Following an association with Pablo Black and Oneness the girls changed their style for the release of ‘I’m Hurt’, which was closer to roots than the lovers style for which they were renowned. They also undertook several live appearances touring Italy with the Wreckless Breed and supporting Gregory Isaacs on his UK tour. By the early 80s the group disbanded, although Christine went on to pursue a solo career and Castro Brown set up his New Name Music label. In 1984 ‘Girls Imagination’ was re-released.


  • Good Times (DEB 1979) ٭ ٭ ٭

See also Louisa Mark, Lovers Rock, Dennis Bovell, Dennis Brown, Temptations, Gregory Isaacs.