All these years I’ve naively assumed “I Shall Sing” to be a Judy Mowatt early reggae original (and 1974 Jamaican chart-topper, according to this Los Angeles Times piece from 1986). And yet that same Times piece makes clear, Judy Mowatt was taking her musical inspiration from Miriam Makeba (not Art Garfunkel), as “I Shall Sing” turns out to have come from the pen of Van Morrison, who first recorded it November 11, 1969 for his Moondance album – but ultimately binned it!
Forty-four years later on October 8, 2013, Mojo* would make a rather big to-do [*link no longer active] over the premiere of this Caribbean-flavoured “never-before-released” track:
“I Shall Sing” (take 7) by Van Morrison (1969)
Check out the fresh arrangement, especially the offbeat intro that kicks off the version sung by Judy Mowatt:
“I Shall Sing” by Judy Mowatt (1970)
Miriam Makeba‘s Warner Brothers single was originally selected by Billboard for its Top 60 Pop Spotlight (i.e., predicted to reach the Top 60 of the Hot 100 Chart) in its July 4, 1970 edition:
This happy Van Morrison swinger serves as potent material for the top stylist. Her most commercial outing in some time this could prove an out and out smash.
Mowatt’s version may have topped the Jamaican charts in 1974, but her recording had originally been released in 1970 using at least two music aliases — Julian (in Jamaica) and Jean and the Gaytones (in the UK) — as well as her own name. Imagine this music blogger’s delight in discovering “Musical Fight” by The Crashers to be the flip side of the Jean and the Gaytones 45 released by Trojan!
Art Garfunkel would have the most success with “I Shall Sing” in the States (#38 Pop) in 1973 — Billboard selected Garfunkel’s 45 as one of the “Top Single Picks” for the week of December 15, 1973 and had these words of praise:
A zesty tune from Art’s current album brings us a happy picture with a Caribbean flavor. This is hand clapping, joyous music with Garfunkel’s dueting with himself and lots of infectious music behind his saga of always singing as a way of staying happy.