Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

MIAMI BROWARD CARNIVAL IS RIGHT ON TIME

Jennifer Lovell from NY masquerader for Dingolay mas band

Jason Walker

Carnival, the largest physical manifestation that has been exported worldwide, is up South Florida again. The Miami Broward One Carnival will happen Sunday the 7th of October in 2018. The timing of the Carnival is perfect with the backdrop of the USA having issues with the immigrant population (which over 90% of the US population is either born outside of the US or is the descendant of someone born outside of the country) and the current political power structure.

Carnival does directly represent the 35 countries of the Caribbean that has spawned this amazing festival, yet Carnival has cultural elements from all over the globe and deriving from the continent of Africa, it is an event that finds a way to bring unity with diversity.

Carnival is an explosion of music, food, costumes and various aspects of culture, the best that the melting pot of the Caribbean offers. It engages family of all ages and communities and people from all walks of life. The patrons will be exposed to costume bands, music bands, steel pan bands, the diverse food along with a worldwide connection and sense of excitement and bliss.

The Carnival could not come at a better time. We all need a moment of community that is filled with joy and peace. A day where all cares are thrown to the wind and we lose ourselves in our best selves. On this day we will partake of the euphoria that has been handed down from generation to generation and has sparked creativity, connectivity and ecstasy.

The Miami Broward One Carnival will have all the activities spoken of and culminate with a concert of some of Soca’s best artists. The concert is headlined by Kes the Band, Patrice Roberts and Ricardo Drue. Here is a small Q&A we had with Ricardo Drue to give us more of an opportunity to learn more about him.

 

Questions for Ricardo Drue

JW: For those that don’t know who Ricardo Drue is, describe yourself.

RD: Ricardo Drue is a son the Caribbean, born in Antigua Raised in Trinidad and currently living in Florida. I think I’m probably one of the most goofy and weird artiste you’ll ever meet. I enjoy entertaining people and I am forever grateful for every opportunity that I get to perform for the masses. Every chance I get to perform is a chance to help someone get away from whatever bad they may be going through.

JW: If you could write your own headline, what would it be?

RD: Ricardo Drue A man who changed the World with Music/Soca

JW: You have been in the music game for a very long time. What are your tips on staying relevant?

RD: Staying as connected to the industry as much as you can, which includes educating yourself on the ins and outs of the game. This industry changes very fast, and if you not attentive enough you can get lost very quickly

JW: What are you grateful for in your life?

RD: Life itself, just the fact I’m able to wake every day is a blessing. I am also grateful for my Family, i am nothing without them.

JW: When did you know you wanted to take music seriously?

RD: At the age of 5, I knew I was going to do something with music, I wasn’t sure what it was but I knew it was music.

JW: What is one of your favorite projects you have worked on or songs you have done?

RD: Favorite project to date with have to be iD “(stamp you name)”. With this song i learned how to bring true emotion out of my audience.

JW: What kind of stuff did you grow up listening to?

RD: R&B, Pop, Calypso and Country (lol I know).

JW: Who are some of your music heroes?

RD: BoyzII Men, Bob Marley, Bunji Garlin, Ronnie Macintosh, Micheal Jackson & Neyo

JW: In your musical journey so far, what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?

RD: Always be humble, you never know when you are going to be down, The same people you treat badly on your way up, is the same people you will meet on your way down!

JW: What is next for you?

RD: We have expanded the iDnation, and now in addition to music we are also doing events around the world, For example we have “Druesday” in Antigua, and we also have Adventure Island ( wed oct 3rd 2018) for Miami Carnival and so much more.

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JAMAICA FLAG

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAMAICA LAND OF MY BIRTH
 
BY Jason Walker
 
Today JAMAICA is 53. It is a moment of blessing and happiness for those of us born in, descendant of and love Jamaica. It is also a time to share that happiness with those who love Jamaica although not born in the land of wood and water. There are many reasons to be proud of our young small nation and the peoples who have been brought forth from this nation that have put a stamp on human history. All this has been done while facing seemingly insurmountable odds from the first moment Europeans destroyed the aboriginal people in Jamaica, to the Africans fighting against slavery and having limited success against the most far-reaching holocaust in human history, to the influencing of PAn African thought through Marcus Garvey & Rastafarians and the infectuous Reggae music and powerful contirbutions in the areas of human rights, progressive thought, academia, Christian service, athletics and so much more.
 
We have done all this while dealing with challenges from both outside and inside of our communities and creating a Diaspora that by all estimates doubles our population on the island. I would like to see as a present on this 53rd year, all Jamaicans really coming together with a mindset of always supporting people and things Jamaican in positive realms and to use all these areas of GODly anointing that we show so successfully to truly make us advance in every area so that we not only benefit ourselves, but the whole human race.
 
Happy Birthday Jamaica to all Jamaicans, those of Jamaican descent and those who love Jamaica
 
National Pledge
 
Before God and all mankind, 
I pledge the love and loyalty of my heart, 
the wisdom and courage of my mind, 
the strength and vigour of my body in the service of my fellow citizens; 
I promise to stand up for Justice, Brotherhood and Peace, 
to work diligently and creatively, 
to think generously and honestly, 
so that Jamaica may, under God, 
increase in beauty, fellowship and prosperity, 
and play her part in advancing the welfare of the whole human race.

 

Miami Broward One Carnival Celebrate 30 years of Carnival in South Florida

By Jason Walker

MIAMI BROWARD CARNIVAL CELEBRATES 30 YEARS

MIAMI BROWARD ONE CARNIVAL CELEBRATES 30 YEARS. PHOTO COURTESY OF MIAMI BROWARD ONE CARNIVAL

Miami Broward One Carnival reaches a major milestone in 2014. Three decades is a long time for any area not based in the Caribbean to host the largest physical manifestation of Caribbean culture: Carnival. The name Miami Broward One Carnival reflects the historic unification of two Carnivals that were staged for several years in close proximity in South Florida, on the same day at the same time. Both events drew thousands of people and had stage shows and bands.  The people, however, wanted one Carnival for the sake of unity, – everyone could partake in all that Carnival has to offer.

The vision of Carnival in South Florida 30 years ago has manifested itself into one of the most popular Caribbean events in North America. The Carnival even has hit songs that are about that Carnival, such as Alison Hind’s “Never Too Late For Carnival” featuring Trevor Offkey.

Joan Hickson is the chair of the organizing committee. Hickson thought back to “the first Carnival on NW 183rd Street.  I was a member of the St. Lucia Association of South Florida.  We became a band in the Carnival.  I was actually the Queen of the Band one year.  Since that time I have been involved in other bands – D’ Untouchables and D’ First Dimension.  I was on the Board of the South Florida Bandleaders Association and Caribbean American Carnival, which later became Miami Carnival Inc.  I have loved almost every minute of the last 30 years.  It is an accomplishment that we were able to overcome everything and all come together to continue this beautiful event”.

YOUNG ONE IN COSTUME FOR JUNIOR CARNIVAL

YOUNG ONE IN COSTUME FOR JUNIOR CARNIVAL

Hickson also demonstrated the importance of joining both Miami and Broward Carnivals; “it is very important for us to have only one Carnival in this region”, she cited.  “History has proven that we cannot afford more than one – financially, culturally or socially.  It was hard for both organizations; we were accustomed to our independence, but as leaders of our community it was the only choice and it was the right choice.”

Kathryn D’arcy is a director on the organizing committee. D’arcy shared that this year the “theme is a celebration of the 30th Annual Miami Carnival.  The first Miami Carnival was in 1985 in what is now the City of Miami Gardens.”

The late Selman Lewis took the helm of leadership in 1990 and with great fortitude, cunning, will power and strong support helped to guide the Carnival to be one of the most recognized in the world.

Miami Broward One Carnival by Walter Drayton

IMAGES FROM CARNIVAL IN SOUTH FLORIDA BY WALTER DRAYTON

Getting to the milestone of 30 years is very important and has been very difficult. The Carnival organizing committee has to make sure all facets of the very large event are taken care of, that there is buy in from the non-Caribbean community, the governing municipalities of South Florida, and the other Carnivals to avoid conflicting schedules. D’arcy shared that doing this “is a personal triumph because of my history with Miami Carnival.  I was not there in 1985, but I was in 1986 and every year since.  I’ve been a bandleader, a mas player, a competitor, an onlooker and an organizer of Miami Carnival.  I have seen and been a part of different facets of Carnival and from an organizational perspective I’ve seen every problem, every triumph over adversity – and there have been a lot of them.”

The Director of Marketing, John Beckford (formerly part of the Broward Carnival organizing committee), states that the Carnival means to him “embracing heritage and celebration of Caribbean arts and culture. It means food, drinks and music indigenous to the Caribbean. It means, getting together with friends and family if not for this one time each year…it means old man Winter is about to set in….” Hickson declares that, “I have loved almost every minute of the last 30 years.  It is an accomplishment that we were able to overcome everything and all come together to continue this beautiful event.”

For it to last this long and still grow and be relevant is admirable, the question as to how it has lasted so long was posed to Hickson.  She responded by saying “Our community loves Carnival.  No matter where we are from, we all had Carnival at home, so it’s natural to want to show our kids and teach them our culture.  Every year another thousand people discover Carnival and will bring their friends the following year.”

Broward Canrival

IMAGES FROM BROWARD CARNIVAL

Miami Broward One Carnival has left enduring memories for all, memories that have seared into people’s subconscious to become lasting life images. Board members shared some of their memories; Beckford shared his most enduring memory which was a “A quiet conversation with Selman Lewis two days before he died, about how unity of Miami & Broward carnivals was the right thing to do…. Selman….miss him….”; Hickson adds, “… the memories of Selman Lewis are there. We called him “The Runner” because the rest of the Board had specific responsibilities but he was, overall, responsible for everything.  Plus, Selman was too elegant to ever run. The name was our private joke.  I always loved seeing the Kings, Queens and Individuals on stage, especially when we did the show at the Coconut Grove Convention Center and they had a big stage to perform on.  The Junior Carnivals are good memories.  I loved it when the steelbands came from T&T and people just chipped along smiling and happy.” D’arcy remembers “Wet Mih Down” playing while masqueraders jumped up on stage in pouring rain in Miami Beach; sitting on the wall of Hialeah Park watching the masqueraders pass; the heat at  carnival parties in Studio 183 and Travelodge; Sherman Helmsley (“Mr. Jefferson”) jumping up on stage at the Convention Center; a City of Miami Policeman pushing pan on stage at Bicentennial Park; TanTan and Saga Boy at Pier 1 in Miami Beach; the perfection of D’ First Dimension Mas Band; all mas bands, steelbands, Junior bands and J’Ouvert bands that make up Carnival.”

The Carnival brings thousands of persons to South Florida consistently from across North and South America, the Caribbean, Africa and even Europe. It is a huge boost to the South Florida economy, a great plug for Florida tourism and a fantastic display of Caribbean Culture. Caribbean and Non-Caribbean people get engaged in the Carnival in diverse ways. They are not just standing on the sides and grooving to music anymore, they are becoming a part of the show joining bands, putting on costumes and fully becoming part of the Carnival. There are Caribbean and non-Caribbean people volunteering to help with the organizing of the Carnival. According to Beckford, “some embrace carnival and are curious of the diversity. Thanks to TV, Internet and World Travel, more non-Caribbean folks explore and embrace Carnival. Each year I see non-Caribbean numbers grow in attendance”

Kia Hidspire representing Grenada & St Lucia along with Nicole Williams representing Jamaica in Tribal Mas Band in the 2013 Miami Broward Carnival

Kia Hidspire representing Grenada & St Lucia along with Nicole Williams representing Jamaica in Tribal Mas Band in the 2013 Miami Broward Carnival

There are many aspects for people to enjoy and be engaged in. Patron and Reveller Nicole Williams who makes the trek from New York City states that “my favourite part would be the beginning when we start to march”; Miami Native Rhavi Bharath eloquently points out that “the Carnival bliss in that moment of sweet soca, alcohol, stunning women and scenic ecstasy was a time forever etched in my subconscious.” There are also masquerade bands that will travel thousands of miles to partake of Miami Broward One Carnival. Garth George and his Fusion Karnival Band out of New York is such band. According to Trinidad & Tobago born George Fusion Karnival masquerade band is one of the largest to come out of New York and he states that “Miami Broward (One) Carnival is the last bacchanal getaway of the summer before the main event in T&T to get ready again for another year”.

The Carnival engages various people in many areas. When asked about this phenomenon D’arcy expounds that “there are cashiers, Marshalls to direct the parade, people to work with the vendors, marketing needs people to service the sponsors, we have PR volunteers tweeting and instagramming at every event.  These are just some of the people who work with Carnival.  From an attendance point-of-view, it’s exciting to see the promise of diversity play out on our stage.  Every color, creed and race is on the road, but in addition the age differential is amazing in that nobody is too young or too old to play mas.  We have masqueraders in wheelchairs; we have LGBT masqueraders; anyone and everyone is welcome as a masquerader or attendee.  We are truly diverse and that is the true pageantry and spectacle of Carnival.”

Looking back at the three decades it is hard to separate Selman Lewis from the memories. Hickson shared that “Selman Lewis is the cerebral founder of Carnival.  The WIADCA Committee founded Carnival in 1985.  In 1990 Selman Lewis took the Carnival and dragged it to a higher level.  He formed alliances which brought Brooklyn and other cities to Miami in record numbers.  He started the Coconut Grove Convention Center parties.  He started doing a Carnival Launch.  He then started doing an Official Launch of Miami Carnival in T&T.  He was the brainchild behind the beautiful brochures which many Carnival produce.  He had a unique mind and the ability to communicate which allowed him to dominate every meeting and every group, and to get people to agree with his viewpoints.  He formed the first “Junior Board” with the intent of having a group of younger people to take over Carnival.  His policies and procedures are still used today.  He was a Carnival Genius.”

Miami Broward One Carnival celebrating 30 years should be a powerful display of Caribbean culture, expression and, yes, unity. The Carnival will be in two parts the Miami Broward Junior Carnival will be held on Sunday, October 5, 2014 at the Central Broward Regional Park & Cricket Stadium (3700 NW 11th Pl, Lauderhill, FL 33311) and on Sunday, October 12, 2014 there will be the staging of the Miami Broward Parade of Bands, 30 Years Celebration at the Miami-Dade County Fairgrounds, 10901 Coral Way, Miami, Fl 33165. For more information visit www.miamibrowardcarnival.com.

Jason Walker is a freelance writer for Caribbean Today Magazine who has had an award winning journalism career that spans 20 years. He can be followed on twitter at www.twitter.com/jasonwalker_ or emailed at jasonarticle@gmail.com

BwH1-LBIEAAYdBb

Trinidadian Born Miami Native Rhavi Bharath with fellow Masquerader overlooking Biscayne Bay in Miami

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Third World Maxi Priest

QUESTION: “THIRD WORLD HAS HAD A FEW LEAD SINGERS OVER THE YEARS. ONE HAD A NICKNAME THAT IS A VEGETABLE, WHAT IS HIS FULL NAME AND NICKNAME?”

SUNDAY, AUGUST 17, 2014
NBAF Global presents
THIRD WORLD  ||  MAXI PRIEST 
and JULIE DEXTER 
@
THE TABERNACLE
152 Luckie Street ~ Atlanta, GA
6pm
Tickets start @ $15, VIP tickets available
Purchase tickets online @ 

 

Marley-StephenSTEPHEN MARLEY

HERE IS AN EXCERPT OF AN INTERVIEW I DID FOR CARIBBEAN TODAY MAGAZINE. WHICH WAS ALSO AN EXCERPT OF A MUCH LONGER INTERVIEW, WHICH I PROMISE TO PUBLISH IN FULL IN THE FUTURE.

STEPHEN MARLEY TALKS TO JASON WALKER

Stephen Marley is one of the most successful and decorated artistes and producers around. He is the son of late reggae king Bob Marley and a member of the Melody Makers, the group his father started with his siblings.

“Ragga” Marley runs the Ghetto Youths International (GYI) label where he produces music for himself and other artistes, including his brothers Damian and Julian, along with Wayne Marshall. Stephen holds the record for the most reggae album Grammy award wins – three with Melody Makers.

 

Caribbean Today freelance writer Jason Walker recently caught up with Stephen Marley. The following is an edited version of that interview.

 

Jason Walker: Tell us about GYI.

 

Stephen Marley: Well GYI is a label whey we form that consists of Damian, Julian, Stephen (Marley) and then you have youth like Black Am I, Jo Mersa (Stephen’s son), and Wayne Marshall who just joined the force and we a build; we building.

 

J.W: Tell us how it got started?

 

S.M.: Ghetto Youth United (GYU) is something (eldest brother) Ziggy Marley had started with myself, where we were producing and releasing records for the youth dem in the ghetto of Jamaica. From that now I man had branched off with GYI. It was a platform where if artistes in Ghetto Youth United were doing well would be pushed up to the more upstream label, which was GYI, where we could spread out our wings a little more. That was the whole concept of the label.

 

J.W.: Tell us more about the artistes on GYI.

 

S.M.: GYU was more of a mass thing; maybe 10 or 15 youth would come to the studio and they would have their songs and

 

we would have our riddims. That was going on in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Now when we are concentrating on being a label, that is when we came up with GYI and that is where we really started to take on artistes. In the beginning it was myself, Damian and Juju (Julian).

 

J.W.: How are artistes evolving at the label?

 

S.M.: Damian a start from a little youth to now where he is taking on artistes and producing. We are a house of music; really that is what it is. When you come amongst us, you are definitely going to grow. I live at the studio; that is my home. We live this, we don’t just talk this and prepare like a job. We live this.

 

J.W.: Tell us about your evolution.

 

S.M.: Well, the whole evolution, we started in 1979 when we released our first official record as the Melody Makers (“Children Playing In the Streets”). We started from then on a professional journey and a profession career, that is what we did.

 

We were privileged to be around great musicians and great artistes helping to raise the bar. We have to exist! It couldn’t be just because we are Bob and Rita youth and we are singing. We went through all of that. We have to prove that this is what we were meant to do.

 

The evolution came from there and then I started doing a little production with my grandmother and then I started slowly taking on my younger brothers. They nurtured me as much as I had to nurture them. All of my elders Ziggy, Cedella, Sharon etc. gave me the guidance necessary to be as strong as we can be.

 

They are always there when we need them. All of those things we take and move forward to today, where I have two solo albums and I am looking to come with a third, Damian gone three and looking to come with a fourth and Julian likewise.

 

J.W.: You have been an artiste, producer, performer, label owner and manager. Which role do you enjoy the most?

 

S.M.: I man is a skipper, in that sense. I was born in April. April is from the tribe of Reuben. In the Bible Reuben was the first son of Jacob, so I man is a general like that. Is a natural thing, I do not have any position. I cook, clean, wash, sing and do everything, anything that is to be done. I man is the man.

 

J.W.: Tell about the music coming from GYI.

S.M.: There was the Set Up Shop compilation, which summed up all the artistes on the label – myself, Julian and Damian. Then it had Wayne Warshall,,,,,,, (Read the rest of the article here http://caribbeantoday.com/entertainment/item/17901-musical-weapon-stephen-marley-armed-and-fighting-the-revolution.html)

Blessed New Year 2014

Blessed New Year 2014

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL

I believe that 2014 will be a great year for my family and myself, my family and my people. I will take the lessons that God has graced me with and I will apply to my rise in being a better husband, father, son, brother, uncle, friend, Christian and human being.

Happy New Year to all. For all those who I interact with regularly and those I have not interacted with in a long time. May 2014 be a year of nurturing, love, progress, justice, wisdom, healing, advancement, prosperity, unity in the family & community and all positive blessings! Did I mention love? Biggup all and lets mek 2014 #TUNUP!

Miss Lou Photo courtesy of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission

Miss Lou Photo courtesy of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission

Jason Walker

(SCROLL DOWN FOR CELEBRATION EVENTS DURING SEPTEMBER)

                As I write this it is actually the day after what would have been the 94th Birthday of ‘MISS LOU’ JAMAICA ‘S FIRST LADY OF COMEDY, THE HON. LOUISE BENNETT-COVERLEY O.M. O.J. M.B.E. DIP R.A.D.A., D. LITT (HON). That however does not stop me from reflecting on one of my heroines and a Jamaican and African legend. As a Jamaican who loves my culture and the platform of enjoying the expression of my culture, I am grateful to Miss Lou for helping to create that platform.

                As will be seen in some of the highlights of her life, Miss Lou began celebrating our culture, especially the major African part of our culture, publicly with international impact, at the age of 14 with a poem that was done in Jamaican patois. This poem opened doors for her that would lead her into acting and eventually to spread her talent and the Jamaican language to the shores of England.

                Miss Lou created her legendary platform that was all about Black and Jamaican pride. Throughout her career she fought racism, sexism, classism, bigotry, xenophobia and various forms of oppression. I was fortunate to be born in a time when she was still alive (Miss Lou passed away in Canada in July 2006). I was exposed to her very popular TV show (Ring Ding) on Jamaica Broadcast Television (JBC), the show was a children’s show that focused on Jamaican & African stories, poetry, folklore, art and other cultural manifestations. She always ended her show with her signature “Walk Good! …… Ai yah yah!” followed by a heartfelt laugh that I remember to this day.

The show helped to foster a certain pride in my Jamaica “Africanness”. The show helped (with other things) to give me a certain confident poise, a swagger if you will, about being a black Jamaican and everything that came with African-Jamaican culture. In school her poems were the most impactful and most fun for me. The poems not only used my native in the most beautifully rhythmic manner, they also provided a window to the development of Jamaican culture over the years, while entertaining the reader in the most engaging manner possible. Throughout her career she was the pinnacle of theatre, poetry, comedy, television and other cultural art forms, and wherever she was she fought for and presented through an African-Jamaican perspective.

                All persons who in some way enjoy, are exposed, involved with, impacted by or in some way connected to Black Jamaican culture can thank Miss Lou for her contribution to its development. I am now a father of four and my family resides in the United States, there is a little regret that my children will not be able to be exposed to Miss Lou while she is alive, or to see a show like Ring Ding, however we have her poems, we are blessed to be in an era to see some of her television work and yes at every birthday we do sing her version of the Happy Birthday song. Miss Lou always had a smile or a laugh for all, while being a constant tower of strength for her culture and her people. Thank you Miss Lou, thank you for all that you have given us. May we treasure and carry on. “Walk Good……. Ai yah yah!”

Miss LouMISS LOU

HIGHLIGHTS: Louise Bennett was born on September 7, 1919. She was a Jamaican poet and activist. From Kingston, Jamaica Louise Bennett remains a household name in Jamaica, a “Living Legend” and a cultural icon. She received her education from Ebenezer and Calabar Elementary Schools, St. Simon’s College, Excelsior College, Friends College (Highgate).

Although she lived in Toronto, Canada for the last decade of her life she still receives the homage of the expatriate West Indian community in the north as well as a large Canadian following.

She was described as Jamaica’s leading comedienne, as the “only poet who has really hit the truth about her society through its own language”, and as an important contributor to her country of “valid social documents reflecting the way Jamaicans think and feel and live” Through her poems in Jamaican patois, she raised the dialect of the Jamaican folk to an art level which is acceptable to and appreciated by all in Jamaica.

In her poems she was able to capture all the spontaneity of the expression of Jamaicans’ joys and sorrows, their ready, poignant and even wicked wit, their religion and their philosophy of life. Her first dialect poem was written when she was fourteen years old. A British Council Scholarship took her to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where she studied in the late 1940’s.

Bennett not only had a scholarship to attend the academy but she auditioned and won a scholarship. After graduation she worked with repertory companies in Coventry, Huddersfield and Amersham as well as in intimate revues all over England.
On her return to Jamaica she taught drama to youth and adult groups both in social welfare agencies and for the University of the West Indies Extra Mural Department.

She lectured extensively in the United States and the United Kingdom on Jamaican folklore and music and represented Jamaica all over the world. She married Eric Winston Coverley in 1954 (who died in 2002) and has one stepson and several adopted children. She enjoys Theatre, Movies and Auction sales.

Her contribution to Jamaican cultural life was such that she was honored with the M.B.E., the Norman Manley Award for Excellence (in the field of Arts), the Order of Jamaica (1974) the Institute of Jamaica’s Musgrave Silver and Gold Medals for distinguished eminence in the field of Arts and Culture, and in 1983 the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from the University of the West Indies. In September 1988 her composition “You’re going home now”, won a nomination from the Academy of Canadian Cinema ad Television, for the best original song in the movie “Milk and Honey.”

In 1998 she received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from York University, Toronto, Canada. The Jamaica Government also appointed her Cultural Ambassador at Large for Jamaica. On Jamaica’s independence day 2001, Bennett-Coverley was appointed as a Member of the Order of Merit for her distinguished contribution to the development of the Arts and Culture.

Born in 1919 in then-colonial Jamaica, Miss Lou began writing, then performing, verse in dialect from the age of 13 – at a time when standard English was considered the norm and the ideal to which most people aspired. She began acting in 1936, while in high school, and was spotted by impresario Eric Coverley (who would later be-come her husband). In 1945, she won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London. While there and still a student, she hosted the live radio show, Caribbean Carnival on the BBC. During a second stay in London, she hosted another program for the BBC, West Indian Guest Night, which introduced emerging West Indian talent. In Jamaica, her verses, written in dialect, were published in The Daily Gleaner; she also performed them onstage and on-radio along with her prose monologues. She hosted radio shows, Laugh with Louise and Miss Lou’s Views, which were on the air for 15 years, as well as Lou and Ranny. Onstage she appeared in a number of productions including the annual Jamaican Pantomimes, from 1943 until 1971, without interruption; retiring from the stage in 1975. For 12 years, beginning in the 1970s, Miss Lou hosted a popular TV program, Ring Ding, which allowed children from all parts of the country to participate and showcase their talent in the performing arts. In 2003, she hosted another edition of Ring Ding, produced in Jamaica. Her film credits include Calypso and Club Paradise; while her song, “Going Home”, used in the film Milk and Honey, was nominated for a Genie Award. In 1989, Louise was appointed Ambassador-at-Large for Culture by the Jamaican Government. Over the years, she has performed and lectured throughout the world, promoting Jamaican history and culture, and creating awareness and pride among Jamaicans for their folk stories and songs. Her works are said to “have a sophisticated and subversive, political dimension and pillory both pretension and self-contempt. They ridicule class and colour prejudice, and criticize people ashamed of being Jamaican or ashamed of being Black.” (Gazette, York University, 1998)

Honours: Several including, Member of the Order of Merit for her distinguished contribution to the development of the Arts & Culture, Jamaica, 2001; inclusion in Who’s Who in Black Canada (1st & 2nd editions, 2000 & 2006); recognized by the International Theatre Institute, Jamaica Chapter, as the “Most Important Theatre Personality of the 20th Century” (2000); Member of the Order of the British Empire for her work in Jamaican literature and theatre; Norman Manley Award for Excellence; Order of Jamaica for work in the field of Native Culture; Honorary Degree of Literature, York University (1988) and University of the West Indies (1982); Gold Musgrave Medal for contribution to the development of the arts in Jamaica & the Caribbean (1978).

Works: Recordings: Include Yes, M’Dear: Miss Lou Live (1983); The Honourable Miss Lou (1981); Carifesta Ring Ding (1976); Listen to Louise (1968); Miss Lou’s Views (1967); Jamaica Singing Games (1953); Jamaica Folk Songs (1953). Poetry: Jamaica Labrish (1966); Anancy and Miss Lou (1979); Selected Poems (1982). Other publications: Aunty Roachy Seh (1993); Laugh with Louise; and Anancy and Miss Lou.

Education: Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, England; St. Simon’s College; Excelsior College; Friends College for Jamaica.

Hero: Her mother, Kerene Robinson.

Motto: Use a smile to cover sorrow.

2013 CELEBRATIONS OF THE LIFE OF MISS LOU

Islandwide Celebration for Miss Lou during September

 

The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) has planned a number of activities during the month of September to celebrate the 94th birthday anniversary of the late Hon. Louise Bennett – Coverley, OM, OJ, MBE.

 

These activities will be held in each parish across the island and includes Exhibitions on the life and work of Miss Lou in collaboration with Parish Libraries; Concerts featuring her works in poetry, storytelling & songs; a special ‘Storytelling’ feature for the ‘Tweenie Weenie’ children; and bringing back ‘Ring Ding’ time, in Montego Bay.

 

Below is the list of islandwide activities:

Parish

Date and Time

Activities

Venue

Description

St. Mary

Monday , September 2 – Saturday  September 28, 2013

Special Anniversary Display on the life and works of Miss Lou

St. Mary Parish Library, Port Maria

Exhibition will run daily Monday – Saturday

9:00am –  5:00pm

St. Thomas

Thursday September 5 – Saturday 7, 2013

Special Library Exhibition

St. Thomas Parish Library, Morant Bay

Special three day Display on the life and works of Miss Lou

Westmoreland

Friday September  6, 2013 commencing at 10:00am

   

 

Official Opening Ceremony of Pictorial Exhibition

Westmoreland Parish Library

Featuring performances of Miss Lou’s poetry, storytelling and songs. Exhibition to run daily September 6 – 28 – 9:00am – 5:00pm

Mondays – Saturdays

 

Kingston/St. Andrew

Friday September 6, at 10:00am

Library Exhibition

Kingston/St. Andrew Parish Library, Tom Redcam Avenue

Exhibition to run from September 6 – 13, 2013 Monday – Saturdays 9:00am – 5:00pm

Kingston/St. Andrew

Saturday September 7 at 4:00pm

‘Tenky Miss Lou Poetry Hour

Louise Bennett Garden Theatre, Kingston

A staged performances of Miss Lou poems and songs

St. Catherine

Saturday September 7

Library Exhibition

St. Catherine Parish Library, Spanish Town

Exhibition to run from September 7 – 21, 2013 daily from 9:00am

St. Catherine

Saturday September 7

Library Exhibition

Greater Portmore Library

Exhibition to run from September 7 – 21, 2013 daily from 9:00am

Trelawny

Friday September 13, 2013 at 10:00am

Official Opening of Library Exhibition Ceremony

Trelawny Parish Library, Falmouth

Guest speaker

Exhibition to run to September 28, 2013 daily from 9:00am

Hanover

 

Wednesday September 18, 2013 at 10:00am

 

Official Opening Ceremony of Pictorial  Exhibition and Storytelling Corner for “Tweenie Weenie” Library

 

Hanover Parish Library, Lucea

 

Featuring Internationally renowned poet Jean Breeze. Exhibition runs until September 28, 2013 daily from 9:00am

Manchester

Friday September 20 at 9:00am – 1:00pm

“Tenk God Fi Miss Lou” Tribute

Manchester Hugh School Auditorium & Grounds

A special tribute featuring panel discussion, exhibition and concert

Portland

Monday September 23, 2013 at 10:00am

Library Exhibition

Portland Parish Library, Port Antonio

Exhibition to run from Monday September 23 – Friday 28, 2013

9:00am – 5:00pm daily

Monday – Saturday

St. Ann

Thursday September 26, 2013 at 10:00am

Miss Lou Birthday Celebration

St. Ann Parish Library, St. Ann’s Bay

Official Opening of Exhibition, Guest Speaker, a special feature of an  essay competition and performances

 

St. James

Thursday September 26,2013 at 10:00 am

Miss Lou Mo Bay Ring Ding

Saint James Parish Library, Montego Bay

Featuring presentations from  Culture Clubs across the Parish

 

Thursday September  26, 2013 at 4:00pm

Miss Lou Poetry Extravaganza

Portland Parish Library, Port Antonio

A special tribute featuring a poetry competition and performances

Clarendon

Thursday September 26, 2013 at 4:00pm

Miss Lou Concert Tribute

Clarendon Parish Library, May Pen

A special concert featuring poetry, storytelling, drumming & quadrille

St. Elizabeth

Friday September 27, 2013 at 1:00pm

Miss Lou Poetry Competition and Awards Ceremony

St. Elizabeth Parish Library, Black river

A special dialect poetry competition in honour of Miss Lou’s work in dialect, guest speaker, awards ceremony and performances

Information provided by Jamaica Information Service, JCDC, and Who’s Who in Black Canada

Jason Walker is a freelance writer who has had an award winning journalism career that spans 20 years. He can be followed on twitter at www.twitter.com/jasonwalker_ or emailed at jasonarticle@gmail.com