the seafront down at Brighton we used to harmonize.
So sang Rocky Sharpe and the Replays in their 1981 version of the ballad 'Looking For An Echo'. Well 'Johnny' was refering to Johnny Stud (aka Jan Podsiadly), but hands up who knows who 'Slick' was? Of course, it was Darts' own Rita Ray (described in Rocky Sharpe & The Razors' sleeve notes as "...sexy, black and sophisticated, the female sex symbol of the band. She makes Diana Ross look like Arthur Mullard."
Real name Lydia Sowa and born in Ghana on 11th December 1954, Rita moved to Washington D.C at the age of 5 and then on to New York. Educated mainly in the States, she moved to England in 1967 and went to boarding school in Brighton. One day a week she attended the local 'brother' school for science lessions and it was there she first met Den. On completion of A levels, Rita went to Brighton Polytechnic to take a Business Studies course, leaving in June 1976. Prior to her A levels, however, Rita met up with Den again and was invited to join Rocky Sharpe - what began as an occasional guest spot turned into regular backing vocals and in no time at all Rita was doing her own solo numbers. With the demise of Rocky Sharpe, Rita became a founder member of DARTS.
Following Darts' split in 1985 Rita, together with life partner and fellow Darts vocalist Griff Fender, managed the now disbanded acappella girl group The Mint Juleps. They were a 6 piece soul group from the East End of London, who toured with the likes of Sister Sledge and Billy Bragg, and worked as backing singers for Bob Geldof, the Belle Stars and Dr. Feelgood.
Today Rita is a club and radio DJ who plays the global musical spectrum. She played a big part in revitalising the African music scene in London by co-running and DJing at the Mambo Inn in Brixton. She now plays at clubs all over Europe and Africa; guests regularly on BBC radio; arranges and produces records; is a DJ member of Andy Sheppard's radical Jazz quartet; DJ's in Theatre Projects and programmes international music festivals in London.
|Not only has Rita become one of the most prominent DJs on the global beat scene today, she is a leading authority on afrobeat - the combination of hi-life, rock and reggae from Nigeria pioneered by Fela Kuti throughout the 1970s. Kuti ran a legendary club called the Shrine in Lagos, which was a hotbed of intellectual and artistic activity (or a den of the utmost depravity, depending on who you talk to). Rita's own club night, which combines DJs with live bands, poetry readings and rapping, is named in its honour. Her Shrine sessions have rocked London venues like the Fridge, the Royal Festival Hall, the Jazz Café and the Barbican. She has also taken the|
|Shrine to Dublin, Uganda, Lithuania and Estonia. The full-on Shrine vision is "an Afrocentric feast for all the senses. Show time at the Mother of All Clubs means a shimmering vista of Afro-Paradiso filled with dancers, poets, live music, visuals, DJ's and food". Sounds fantastic!!|