Liz Mitchell

Walking into Destiny

Author/Editor: Jennifer J. Lacelle
September 27, 2021

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul, but its the stories carried in song that are passed on through the generations. There’s an effervescence in singing that can reach into the depths of our souls and pull forth emotions and memories that have perhaps been long forgotten; and cultures across the globe have endowed their descendants with music through every struggle, pain, praise and celebration.

So, when opportunities arise and the doors are flung open the only thing left to do is walk through them.

Liz Mitchell, of Boney M, remembers first performing at seven years old. Despite the general anxiety that came up before reciting — now called rapping — the end was gratifying as the audience was receptive.

Born July 12, 1952 in Clarendon Parish, Jamaica, this girl would go on to become one of the top singers in the world. She has completed 8 albums, 38 singles, and 38 compilation/remix albums. Boney M also won a Diamond Award for over 150 million albums and singles sold.

So, It Begins

Mitchell’s family moved to England when she was 11 years old and she ended up forming a small group of friends that would get together and perform. It was around this time she realized people wanted to hear to her sing, but more importantly was that singing was a passion. Which is not strange at all, especially given that she comes from a family of musically talented people.

“I didn’t think of myself as a singer, but I enjoyed singing,” Mitchell says. “It was joy and pleasure for me.”

Of course, she still didn’t know where her life was going to lead. Her mother wanted Mitchell to become a doctor, but she always had an admiration for teachers. Either way, Mitchell didn’t have a “clear vision” on what she wanted to study if she felt so inclined to attend post-secondary after high school.

She says when attending school, people pass their exams because they need to, but not necessarily because they intend to be a scientist. Of course, she excelled in her classes, and all the while performing at every opportunity.

By the time she hit 14, Mitchell was singing publicly with a jukebox and a bar musician asked her to sing backup for him. The singer’s agent offered her a deal as a soloist, but her mother turned them down.

It only took three more years for Mitchell to take her shot and ended up travelling to Berlin, Germany to perform in the musical Hair.

Mitchell comments that the small choices people make in their every day lives are usually the most important. The ability to set aside pride and simply do the small thing may bring you to the largest places. Its important to have a passion for what you do, especially in the obscure moments when you think no one is watching.

“You’re not doing it for any reason other than to do it well, to excel in what you do,” Mitchell points out.

Bursting Onto the Scene

Choosing Berlin was a bigger decision stemming from a string of smaller ones throughout her youth that were setting her down destiny’s road. She says her life would be very different had she not taken the chances provided to her.

“I sort of walked right into these opportunities,” she says. “I think that if we are walking in our destiny then we are doing what we are born to do, and when you are born to do something it really becomes easy, or easier, than when you are trying to do something that you’re attracted to.”

She spent half a year in Berlin performing in Hair, where she learned how to sing (and speak) in German, a language she had never previously heard. Mitchell notes that she can still speak German because she’s spent a great deal of time with the language.

Mitchell says that had she not gone to Berlin, other aspects in her life and career may never have occurred. As an example, she mentions a ‘what if’ in regards to her life going in the opposite direction. She says that, as a black class citizen, seeing black people in jobs below them, she would bring so much joy to it if she were ever to be in such a position. Not only that, but she would make herself so important to the job that others would want to work like her.

“If you don’t enjoy it, you’re not doing yourself any justice or the people around you.”

After the stint in Berlin, they toured to Switzerland before returning to Germany. After which time, she joined Les Humphries Singers.

Performing with the Les Humphries Singers was when she realized her career was a success. In the early 1970s, the group was a world-wide sensation and they travelled to many countries, including Canada and Australia. Though Mitchell says the true fame came with Boney M’s release of Rivers of Babylon.

Boney M

It’s been said the only non-replaceable member of Boney M is Liz Mitchell. Her voice, abilities and warm personality all contribute to making her the most-famous member of the group.

Initially, Mitchell received a call from Katja Wolff Agency.

She subsequently joined along with the other main members: Maizie Williams, Marcia Bennet and Bobby Farrell.

Mitchell says Jamaican singer, Prince Buster, had brought his style to Germany and it caught the attention of the German music industry, clearly prompting a flood of intrigue. The musical influences for Boney M also stem from Jamaican and African roots.

She goes on to discuss the musical dynamics of these cultures and how it’s truly a feeling delivered by their people.

Mitchell believes that despite the enslavement endured by Africans in the Caribbean and United States, they did not lose their musical roots and flavour — even if people are unaware of it.

“I guess its our souls,” says Mitchell. “That’s where it originated. It’s engrained in us.”

She describes the way Africans sing, how they stress musical notes, and hum. Mitchell also mentions Sam Cooke and says his music reminded her a great deal of Africa; though Mitchell chuckles that she doesn’t know if he was aware that he was channeling his heritage.

For those who may be unaware, African music is deeply embedded in their culture and is quite often a community activity or part of a ceremony. Everything from the sounds created, hums, whispers, grunts, shouts or animals sounds, has meaning. The pitch can also determine the significance of the music.

There are generally four primary instruments to their music: wind, self-sound, string and drum. The last of which is said to reflect the community’s emotions and moods (while also helping dancers keep on beat). Music and dance are simply part of their daily life, heritage and culture, rather than a separate entity.

African music has influenced Rhythm and Blues, Reggae, Jazz, Hip Hop and Rap — all of which are heard and enjoyed around the world!

It’s no wonder the sounds of Boney M have been universal through the decades, their colourful tastes of Jamaican and African notes transcend demographics and age gaps.

She regales a recent story from a friend of hers, in the US, who shared that someone had just discovered a new band. Well, lo and behold, this person was playing music from Boney M and didn’t realize the band has been around for decades. Mitchell laughs brightly saying, “she [the friend] died laughing!”

“The wonderful thing of Boney M: it doesn’t change. We were before our time, yet famous in our time.”

Which is quite the wonder since landing a top hit is difficult. The track needs to be picked up by radio stations and the people. Because there are so many musicians out there, the competition is strong (and increasingly so). Mitchell says that Boney M never expected to become a smashing success, especially beyond a one-hit-wonder. But then Sunny struck the airwaves and “propelled” the group into a second album.

They had several more hits before Rasputin was released, and Mitchell says that was the song that thrust them to the top of the charts. It was three years of “power, power, power” and not enough time to take it all in.

“Just on the treadmill going faster, faster, faster,” she chuckles.


The music industry has changed, just like everything does over time, even if the melodies of Boney M haven’t. Artists have different ways of supporting themselves financially now. Rather than selling records, cassettes or CDs, musicians make money by selling out concerts. A big contrast to the way it once was.

“There was a time when you didn’t make money doing concerts. Now the only way to make money is when you do concerts.”

Of course, with COVID, venues were forced to close and all the musicians and crew in the industry felt the impact. Mitchell points out that they’ve begun getting creative in how to continue working and includes merchandise sales, such as photos. It’s a learning curve for musicians to navigate and everyone is just beginning to adapt to the new ways of life.

Although, after a year and half, some locations are able to open their seats again — but not at full capacity. With the re-emergence of tours, Mitchell says she’s done about three shows since August of 2021. They were able to perform for close to 40,000 people in both Romania and Denmark. Though, the average seating arrangements are usually between 50,000 and 60,000.

“People are hungry for entertainment,” she says.

As things turn back to semi-normalcy, the hope is to reschedule tour dates and get travelling the world again while bringing people what they’re craving: good, wholesome performances.

Just like the rest of her life, Mitchell will continue walking through the open doors of opportunity to follow her destiny into a celebratory era as they revel in decades of success and charting once more without anybody pushing.

She’s extremely grateful to the fans, especially the young ones discovering Boney M’s music for the first time, and thanks them all for their support.

“It has been more than I really could have expected.”

*The views and opinions contained within subjects, content, information, data and imagery does not necessarily reflect those of iinta, iinta’s staff, or iinta’s affiliates. This article is not intended to be a replacement for medical diagnosis, information or treatment, etc. ALWAYS see your medical provider. For full disclosure statement, please visit our Disclosure Page.

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