Rhoda Dakar began her musical career as lead vocalist with all female 2Tone band, The Bodysnatchers. They only ever released two singles, ‘Let’s Do Rocksteady’ and ‘Easy Life’. After a year together they split and Rhoda went on to guest with The Specials in Europe and the USA, having featured on their second album, ‘More Specials’, for which she won the first of her seven gold records. After their demise, and before joining Jerry Dammers’ new project, she recorded The Bodysnatchers’ first original song, ‘The Boiler’, a harrowing tale of date rape, which was inevitably banned. The Special AKA spent the next two years recording ‘In The Studio’, spawning a top ten hit with ‘Free Nelson Mandela’. Disillusioned, Rhoda left the music business, only returning occasionally to guest with friends like Dr Robert, The Communards and Apollo 440.
In the early noughties, Rhoda was enticed back by the opportunity to work with both Pauline Black of The Selecter and Jennie Matthias of The Bellestars. Though the project was short-lived, she was back on the road and soon began writing and recording again. In 2006, Rhoda released her first solo album, the semi acoustic ‘Cleaning In Another Woman’s Kitchen’, followed in 2009 by ‘Back To The Garage’, an old school Garage Rock album of the music that inspired 2Tone with collaborator Nick Welsh. Five years after its release, Rhoda finally got to play a set featuring the songs at Blackpool’s famed Rebellion Punk Festival, with longtime friend Tony Feedback, aka Tony Perfect, guitars turned up to eleven!
Fellow London 2Tone alumni Madness released arguably their finest album, ‘The Liberty Of Norton Folgate’ in 2009. Rhoda duetted with Suggs ‘On The Town’, featuring on both the album, which went gold, and also the short film, directed by Julien Temple comprising the launch at London’s Hackney Empire. Rhoda has guested with Madness from time to time in venues as varied as Newmarket racecourse, London’s O2 Arena and the House Of Fun weekender at Butlins Minehead.
In 2015, she released what has been hailed as “the lost 2Tone album”, ‘Rhoda Dakar sings The Bodysnatchers’, including many previously unrecorded tracks. It was crowd funded through Pledgemusic, reaching the target in just 16 days! Featuring old friends from The Specials, Horace Panter and Lynval Golding, plus the cream of current Ska scene musicians. It was launched on Halloween at London’s Jazz Café to the delight of many fans from back in the day. For 2Tone’s 40th anniversary, this album was remastered at Abbey Road Studios. Two additional tracks, recorded live at Glastonbury festival, were added. The packaging was revamped and sleeve notes were included. And, best of all, it was repressed on heavyweight vinyl, half of which was a beautiful red, white and black splatter design!
The LoTek Four, Vol I and Vol II EPs feature Rhoda’s regular band playing live, all together and vibing off each other. Recorded at Paul Weller’s Black Barn Studio on a day trip. Beautifully packaged and available on four track vinyl and vinyl effect CD. They have a great old skool feel; wonderfully mixed and produced by Ska/Reggae guitarist Lenny Bignell and then mastered by Mr Dubstep, Jason Goz. So, even when the tunes are jazzy, there’s a nod to the blues dance. As a reaction to the horrific school shootings in Florida, Rhoda recorded a version of Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’, her modified lyrics reflecting the young people’s plight and fightback.
Three years ago Rhoda was sent a backing track by The Dub Pistols. She wrote the lyrics and they recorded it as ‘Stand Together’. It was put on the back burner, but eventually scheduled for release in early June 2020. The video was shot during lockdown. Meanwhile, events had caught up after the racist murder of George Floyd. ‘Stand Together’ is a message of hope, that unity will put us ‘back on track’. The video is a collage of US Civil Rights activists and footage of Rhoda and the band.
An in demand DJ, Rhoda is known for playing Rocksteady and Early Reggae. However, with an eclectic musical taste, there will always be a sprinkling of the unexpected. Taking the crowd along with her, she has played Arabic pop, Punk, David Bowie, Johnny Cash, Grime and Dubstep as The Specials’ and The Selecter’s tour DJ, joining them onstage for the encore!. In 2019 on The Selecter’s 40th anniversary of 2Tone tour, Rhoda accompanied them to Mexico, USA, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland and the UK!
With her own band, The LoTek Four, Rhoda has played all over the UK, in Ireland and in Europe. And, just before the worldwide lockdown, she travelled to play in Australia for the first time!
With a neat sideline in writing sleeve notes (The English Beat, Bad Manners, Terry Hall), Rhoda recently had the honour of adding her thoughts to the Trojan double compilation album celebrating female artists, ‘Love Is All I Bring’. Along the way she has also curated a brace of compilation albums, ‘Ska Madness’ volume 1 (for which she received a gold record) and 2. Having first trod the boards at the end of the Sixties, she now draws on her considerable experience to teach vocals and performance to some very talented students. As a compere, Rhoda has hosted the Literary Stage at Rebellion Punk Festival and 2016’s Concert For Corbyn at the Brighton Dome!
Always considered a good value guest, Rhoda has launched her own radio show. Pork Pie & Mash Up, as it is known, airs on the first Monday of every month on Acid Jazz’s Totally Wired Radio (TWR)!