Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Marcia Barrett - From stardom of Boney M to triumph over cancer

Photo courtesy: BBC
Remember the songs, Daddy Cool, Rasputin, Belast, Ma Baker, Bahama Mama .... ? Yes, who can forget Marcia Barrett, the world famous lead singer of the 1970s disco band Boney M?

The latest episode of Outlook Weekend on BBC World Service -- 'The Making of a Disco Star' -- was on the life of Marcia.

I grew up listening to Boney M during my school and college days (I am sure many of you have too); and last Saturday, it was so enjoyable listening to Marcia talk to the programme presenter, Emily Webb.

Marcia was born in Trinidad in 1948, and as a child, she moved along with her mother to London, as part of the "Windrush generation" (the people who migrated from the Caribbeans to the UK between 1948 and 1971).

Marcia speaks about the culture shocks during her formative years in England, how she discovered she was pregnant when she was in school, how her life changed as she entered the music scene, her life with Boney M, and then about her superlative world of stardom as the band became a household name across the world.

Photo courtesy:
The band was formed in Germany in 1975 by people who were looking for singers and dancers from the Caribbean. It was initially called Boney, and then an M was added to it. No one really knew what M stood for. Macia says, "It could be music, it could be magic, it could be Marcia! ... (she laughs)."

At the peak of her career, she had to often leave her son and mother back home in London, and those were hard days for all of them. "You can't be the breadwinner and be there at the same time," she says. 

After the group split, one would think, it would have been easy for Marcia to find a new career. But in spite of all she achieved, life as a singer wasn't easy.

Then her fight with multiple attacks of cancer which was first detected in 1994. Things got so bad at one point that she had to actually learn to walk again!

She says it was her optimism and faith in recovery that kept her going .... and her husband Marcus. She says there was no one for her, during those days, other than her husband.

Boney M, led by Marcia Barrett,
performing in Bangalore, India, on
March 8, 2008. Photo courtesy: The Hindu
Marcia will be 70 years on October 14. What a life she has had!

Emily asks Marcia: "What is your life like now?" She replies: "O, it's gorgeous."

Emily: "Looking back, is there anything you'll change?"

Marcia: "Not really, not really. I want to carry on... do this as a soloist. But not so hectic. No, no, no. One must not forget, I am not a teenager anymore, even though I look like a teenager (she laughs)."

Emily: The timeless spirit of Marcia Barrett.

You should listen to this 27-minute programme, if you get the time for it. Because she is full of passion, laughter and joy, radiating the indomitable spirit that she is full of, which has helped her sumount the hardships, and reach the pinnacle of musical glory.   

You can listen to the programme here on BBC.

You can listen to the greatest hits of Boney M here on Youtube.

Her autobiography, Forward: My Life With and Without Boney M., is just out, in English as well as in German.

Her official website is:


  1. Marcia Barrett is a great singer. My favorite is "Come Into My Life".

  2. What an inspiring story. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

  3. I grew up with Boney M too - and I still sing Rivers of Babylon in my head at times. I had forgotten about the crazy costumes from that era (ABBA had a few - but none hold a candle to those silver pants!) Thanks for the trip down memory lane Pradeep!
    #MLSTL :)

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  5. Hi Pradeep - what a lovely tribute you've given us ... I certainly hadn't heard about her, or how much she was able to give others, particularly her family ... while she sought to provide. I'm glad she's in remission for now - cheers Hilary

  6. Wow I loved the songs by the band but did not know anything about the lead singer. Thanks for sharing.