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Sandra ‘Puma’ Jones was born on October 5, 1953 in Columbia, South Carolina. She graduated from Columbia University with a Master Degree and moved to New York City to work as a social worker. There, she studied dance with the Chuck Davis troupe and discovered a major interest in African Dance. Disillusioned and disappointed in the city life, Puma left for Jamaica to find her African roots.
While in Jamaica, Puma became a member of the female group Mama Africa and also worked with Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus as a dancer to help retrace her African ancestry.
In 1977, Puma was invited by Duckie Simpson to join Black Uhuru, replacing the newly-departed Errol Nelson for the recording sessions of the 1979 album, ‘Showcase’. The album was produced by Sly Dunbar & Robbie Shakespeare on their Taxi Label except for ‘Shine Eye’ which was produced by Black Uhuru for Uhuru Production. Puma, Ducky Simpson and Michael Rose would go on to record and tour with Sly & Robbie. Puma went on to sing on seven studio albums, which represents the group’s most critically acclaimed period, culminating in ‘Anthem’ earning the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album in 1985 (the first year of the award’s existence).
In the late 1980’s, Puma was forced to step down after being diagnosed with cancer. She died on January 28, 1990 and was buried in her home state of South Carolina.
Puma told the world about equal rights and justice and how important the role of a female is within the Rastafari Movement. She was a true example of a Rasta Queen who empowered other women of color. She is considered one of the greatest and most beloved female reggae vocalists ever.
Rest in Peace… Sandra ‘Puma’ Jones! May your voice live on forever!