Women of the Sound Systems

Meet the women making music at Notting Hill Carnival

By Notting Hill Carnival

Marilyn Dennis by Vogue MagazineNotting Hill Carnival

1. Marilyn Dennis (Lady Banton)

Seduction City founder Marilyn Dennis, aka Lady Banton, has over 34 years DJ/Selector experience. Her early influences were watching sound men assembling their sounds during youth club sessions and listening to female DJ’s.

Lady Banton’s early DJ experience was with the ’80’s Ladies’ a DJ collective with three other female DJ’s. In 1989 she went on and teamed up with DJ, Night Nurse to form the Mellotone Sound System. They played around north London clubs, but dreamt of playing at Carnival.

Marilyn Dennis - Seduction CityNotting Hill Carnival

What are the challenges are being a woman in Carnival?

"I think a few of the challenges are ensuring that people realise that women are DJ's and sound system professionals just as the men are."

Any advice for young women up & coming in your field?

"Keep to your vision, work as a team. Know your craft and practice as a collective as much as you can. Familiarise yourself with the equipment and understand what you can get out of your equipment and most of all enjoy yourself."

Marilyn Dennis by Vogue MagazineNotting Hill Carnival

What's your favourite memory of Carnival?

"It's always gotta be playing to the crowds during the final two hours and watching everyone enjoying themselves. Everyone just holding a vibe from all nations in oneness until we turn off at 7pm."

Marilyn Dennis - Seduction CityNotting Hill Carnival

Name a woman who inspires you and why?

"Claire Holder, Ex Chair of Notting Hill. When I met her in 1994 and said I wanted to play in Carnival she took me seriously and supported us to identify a site and supported us in the early days. I saw strength, discipline and courage in her which I admire to this day."

Marilyn DennisNotting Hill Carnival

Linett Kamala by Neequaye DsaneNotting Hill Carnival

2. Linett Kamala

Linett Kamala is an interdisciplinary artist, educator and carnivalist born in Harlesden, London to Jamaican parents. Her passion for enriching the lives of others through art, well-being and education is demonstrated by partnerships with numerous organisations spanning over 30 years.Linett works across various disciplines including mixed media paintings, murals, masquerade and DJ soundscapes.


Linett is Founding Director of Lin Kam Art which enriches lives through Arts and Education via residencies, events and programmes. She is also President of the University of the Arts London Alumni of Colour Association and Board Director for the Notting Hill Carnival.

Linett Kamala by Linette KamalaNotting Hill Carnival

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What are the challenges are being a woman in Carnival?

"Sound system culture is still predominantly men and there are still lots of old-fashioned views around that make it hard for female voices to be heard."

"I was fortunate to join a progressive sound system Disya Jeneration as a teenager in the 1980s - It gave me the opportunity to be one of the Notting Hill Carnival’s first girls DJs and also break down age barriers."

"I was a child who handled technical equipment, controlled a crowd through my skill on the mic as a MC and the records I played, and was strong enough to help out with moving around heavy pieces of sound system kit.  Over three decades later, I now manage the same sound system, but remain one of the few females in Carnival to do so."

Linett Kamala by Linette KamalaNotting Hill Carnival

Any advice for young woman trying coming up in your field?

"Take time out to truly understand what makes a sound system. Learn about its roots in Jamaican culture. Also, Don’t be pressured into thinking you need to look or behave in any particular way because of your gender. Instead, focus on some of the core principles of a sound system - to strengthen the community, inform and entertain a crowd through music."

West Indies (Barbados, Cube, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad) (1946) by Eliot ElisofonLIFE Photo Collection

What's your favourite memory of Carnival?

"Hearing The Show by Doug E. Fresh & the Get Fresh Crew for the first time amplified at the Notting Hill Carnival a sound system in 1985. The euphoria of the crowd was unlike anything I had experienced before."

Linett Kamala by Neequaye DsaneNotting Hill Carnival

Name a woman who inspires you and why?

"Nina Simone. I had the pleasure of meeting her in person at the launch of her book in Brixton and then a day later I attended her concert. She passionately believed that an artist’s duty was to reflect the times. She overcame so many challenges, lived by example, and wasn’t afraid to speak up against racial injustices against Black people. Nina’s musical legacy continues to inspire artists all around the world."

Program from Nina Simone concert (1964-03-21)Carnegie Hall

"She passionately believed that an artist’s duty was to reflect the times. She overcame so many challenges, lived by example, and wasn’t afraid to speak up against racial injustices against Black people. Nina’s musical legacy continues to inspire artists all around the world."

Nina Simone, Mississippi Goddam (1964-03-21)Carnegie Hall

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