Dionne Bennett

Dionne Bennett

When you first experience the British Jamaican singer-songwriter, producer, and radio personality Dionne Bennett, one of the first words that comes to mind is powerhouse, defined as a person or thing of great energy, strength, skill, and power. It is no wonder producer, songwriter and artist Little G Weevil assembled a muscular wrecking crew of the best players for her new album Sugar Hip Ya Ya released on Hunnia Records.

The ten-song collection covers all Afro-culture music genres from jazz to R&B, soul, reggae, funk, rock ‘n’ roll and beyond with a sound that leaps out of the speakers like Blood Sweat and Tears meeting the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Stax Records in Memphis for a supersonic soul party. Recorded in Budapest Hungary with local musicians – Laszlo Borsodi on guitar, Attila Herr on bass, drummer Lajos Gyenge and keyboardist Matyas Premecz – who are augmented by the Jambalaya Horns: trumpeter Tamas Sovari and Zoltan Albert on sax. Little G Weevil adds his acclaimed lead guitar and vocals to the mix of eight original numbers he wrote or co-wrote for the project and two classic cover songs that showcase every aspect of Bennett’s expansive dynamic range.

The chart topping 1968 hit for Etta James, “Tell Mama (3.39),” is a bold choice to open an album and Bennett and company do not fail to deliver by recreating the fire of the original Muscle Shoals’ recording. The title track, “Sugar Hip Ya Ya (3.22),” celebrates the voice of a strong independent woman over a heavy swinging groove. A thundering beat from Gyenge kicks off the jagged funk rocker “Spy Me (4.02),” before the sultry one drop infused “My Life (5.55),” embracing Bennett’s island roots. She salutes receiving her life’s calling to be a singer on the rowdy gospel fueled “Full Time Job (3.27).”

Allen Toussaint’s freedom song “Yes We Can Can (3.48)” is given more of that Stax Records treatment with greasy clavinet, fiery horns, and Bennett channeling Mavis Staples. Dubstep influenced “Let It Rain (5.38),” samples the voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., from his “We Shall Overcome” speech, with the southern influenced R&B licks of Little G Weevil and Bennett’s caressing vocal. The duo also issued a call to stand up against racism, writing “This song cannot be more accurate. Speak up against racism and social injustice!”

The dramatic torch song ballad, “Don’t Fall For Love (3.58)” has strains of Billie Holiday and Carmen McRae and is a modern twist on a traditional form. Bennett encourages us all to do better on the thumping track “Get It Right (3.44),” that features a wicked solo from Laszlo. Everyone shines on the Budapest-Goes-To-Brooklyn anthem “Get Style (8.54);” the musicians trading solos and Bennett leading a sing-along house party to close out the set.

The collaboration of Dionne Bennett and Little G Weevil for Sugar Hip Ya Ya began as a guest spot on his project and blossomed into her full-blown album that is destined to bear fruit for years to come.

Rick J Bowen


Dionne Bennett is a British/West-Indian singer-songwriter, producer, and radio personality. She started singing and performing live at age 14 and released her first soul single by the time she was 15. Dionne is internationally known for her unique and diverse vocal style that covers all Afro-culture influenced genres from blues, jazz, R&B, soul, reggae, drum bass funk, rock ‘n’ roll, and beyond.

During her career she has performed throughout Europe and has shared the stage with music legends such as Dr. John. She has also opened for Maceo Parker and the British super group Oasis, as one of the members of the ’The Peth’ fronted by Welsh actor, producer, and singer Rhys Ifans. She has released singles with renowned jazz pianist, Jason Rebello, Grammy award winner saxophonist, Tim Garland, and rock bands such as Super Furry Animals and The Earth.

Dionne has had a varied career path within the arts and was part of a Cbeebies educational program called the Bobinogs. Dionne played the part of Bobin, who performed on the piano and sang, and the program used music and song to educate and inform preschoolers alongside positive messages and problem solving. She also presented the BBC program ‘The Maths Channel,’ another program, targeted at young school children to help educate and solve math problems while using music and song to educate.

Dionne also starred as a ‘Bluette’ in the official Blues Brothers Musical. She gained the part after beating thousands of singers and toured throughout Britain and Europe for 18 months. Dionne has recently started working for a sync music company, ‘Sonic Culture’ based in the U.S. and regularly writes toplines for TV programs and ads. She is also a vocal and performance university lecturer, who coaches the next generation of up-and-coming singers on the music scene and at degree level. Dionne hosts and produces her own music show ‘The Suga Shack’ for local radio station, Radio Cardiff, UK. On the program she spins an eclectic mix of black music genres.

She is the chair of a grassroots music organization ‘Ladies of Rage.’ This network was set up to support women in electronic music genres in Wales and has been successful in highlighting the imbalances of the industry when it comes to women in music and providing support and advocating for 50/50 line up and the inclusion of women when programming for gigs and events. Dionne also chairs the Diversity Advisory Group at the Royal College of Music Drama, helping to ensure the inclusion of black music and black artists within the curriculum and the college itself.

Dionne has pursued her dreams even after suffering an acute asthma attack where she ended up in a coma and lost the ability to speak and sing due to a tracheotomy procedure, as well taking time out of the scene to raise her son. Her love and desire to sing and perform has never been lost and she continues to work, play, perform, and record music.





OCTOBER 29, 2021