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Bitty in Philly

October 30, 2017

Rankin Scholar in Residence Delroy "Bitty" McLean and Guillaume Bougard will be mixing up something special when they demonstrate how to create dub music, a sub-genre of reggae, starting at 6:30 on Thursday, November 2nd in the Gallery. Working with tracks from Drexel’s Audio Archives Sigma Sound Collection, McLean and Bougard will strip songs of their original vocals and then remix to create new tracks from our Archive’s 6500 master audiotapes of pop, soul, disco, and R&B recordings which were recorded in the Sigma Sound studio and represent was is known as the "Sound of Philadelphia".

Known for his soulful voice, Bitty McLean was born in 1972 in Birmingham, UK, to parents who had emigrated from Jamaica in the 1950's. He studied sound engineering and electronics and, at age 18, found himself as the studio assistant to UB40 (Red Red Wine). Impressed by his ear and production talent, the group quickly asked Bitty to be their producer for the multi-platinum album, Promises and Lies. During the sessions, Bitty also produced songs for himself releasing in 1992 Just to let you know, whose single It Keeps Rainin shot to the top of the British pop charts. In recent years, he has recorded and toured with legendary Jamaican producers and musicians Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. Paris based Guillaume Bougard operates the independent TABOU1 label, specializing in Jamaican music. TABOU1 has built a large audio and video catalog, producing artist such as Horace Andy, Gregory Isaacs, U Roy, and of course Bitty McLean and Sly & Robbie.  He has also helped represent 250 Jamaican artists against the French copyright society.  In 2003, Guillaume guided TABOU1 to become the very first reggae label to go digital, and now manages a portfolio of 2500 digital audio and video rights. 

Their residency provides a rich array of classroom and interactive experiences for the Music Industry program. While on campus, Bitty & Guillaume will be working with Music Industry classes to produce a new album using the Sigma Sound Studio Collection and their industry expertise. Dubbing, the common approach to music production in Jamaica, is when artists use existing instrumentals to record new songs. Together they'll expose the richness of Jamaica's culture, share experience with a new generation of aspiring musicians, sound engineers and music professionals, while having fun working on fabulous material first recorded over 40 years ago. 

Thurs. Nov. 2 // 6:30-8:30PM // Leonard Pearlstein Gallery // Free & open to the public 

About the Sigma Sound Studios Collection & The Audio Archives:

The Sigma Sound Studios Collection was donated to Drexel University for storage, preservation,

and research. The Audio Archive is currently working to preserve the original tapes, migrate the audio to a digital format for research access, and archive data for long-term storage. The Audio Archive's mission is to serve students cultural literacy by providing instruction, access, and research opportunities in music, music production, audio preservation, asset management, intellectual property rights, and interdisciplinary collaboration; serve the community by preserving its recorded music history, advocating its significance, and protecting its valuable recorded materials; and serve the University and Music Industry Program by creating a vibrant student and faculty resource for collaborative projects and research.

Bitty McLean & Guillaume Bougard's visit is made possible through a grant from the Rankin Scholar In Residence Program, supported by donations from alumni and colleagues of Dean Rankin to inspire students and to deepen our understanding of developments and thinking within our diverse design, media, and art fields. Music Industry Professor Darren Walters organized Bitty and Guillaume’s visit.

If you’d like to support the Rankin program, you can make a contribution here or by mailing a donation payable to Drexel University to: Dean Sabinson // URBN Center, 3501 Market Street 1A20A // Philadelphia PA, 19104. For more information please contact Nik Kozel at