From Kingston, Jamaica, Richards attended the Denham Town Primary School where after impressing teachers with a performance at an end-of-term concert she was encouraged to appear on the Vere Johns Talent Show.
While working as a magistrate's clerk, she continued her career, working in the 1960s with Bobby Aitken's Carib Beats band and later the Falcons (with a young Dennis Brown), Byron Lee & the Dragonaires, and the Mighty Vikings.
She recorded her debut single, "How Could I", in 1969, produced by Clement "Coxsone" Dodd for his Studio One label. Although this wasn't a success, it brought her to the attention of Clancy Eccles, who produced "Foolish Fool", which became a major hit in Jamaica. She also recorded as one half of the duo Cynthia & Archie.
She was voted Top Female Artist of 1973 in Jamaica and toured with Elmo and Toots and the Maytals. Later in the 1970s she worked as a backing singer, contributing to Beres Hammond's 1976 album Soul Reggae and Pat Kelly's 1978 album Lonely Man.