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Clap dem! Miss Lou honoured in multiple creative ways

Published:Tuesday | September 9, 2014 | 12:00 AM
photo by Winston Sill. Deon Silvera hosts children in Ring Ding style at An Evening with Miss Lou; Honouring the Life and Work of Dr The Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley, held at the Louise Benett Garden Theatre, Hope Road, St Andrew.
Amina Blackwood-Meeks paying respects to Miss Lou through storytelling.
A chorale of voices pays tribute to Miss Lou in song.
Hands are raised in a group number at Sunday's tribute to Miss Lou.
Bennett-Coverley
Weston Haughton honours Miss Lou through poetry.
The hilarious Granny (right) has a word with Barbara Gloudon (seated, centre) at Sunday's An Evening with Miss Lou; Honouring the Life and Work of Dr The Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley, held at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre, Hope Road, St Andrew.
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Miss Lou honoured in multiple creative ways

Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer

On a day when the late 'Miss Lou' would have celebrated her 95th birthday, a concert was held in her honour at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre, Hope Road, St Andrew, on Sunday.

Songs, poetry and storytelling, as well as anecdotes, were used to capture the works of and moments in the life of Miss Lou. In spite of light raindrops, it was a joyful occasion.

The delightful, entertaining and informative event, titled An Evening with Miss Lou; Honouring the Life and Work of Dr The Honourable Louise Bennett-Coverley, also included a bandana competition.

Organised by the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission, the programme was configured like Ring Ding, a popular children's show hosted by the late Louise Bennett-Coverley and aired on the former Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation.

As was the format of Ring Ding a bubbly Miss Lou, played by Deon Silvera, appeared with a group of young children. They got the party going - and so did the raindrops. Umbrellas out, the steadfast audience learned of "a side to Miss Lou that many do not know".

Emerson Barrett painted a picture of a humble Louise Bennett-Coverley who was involved in her community of Gordon Town. "When people like her come into a community, then Jamaica will be a better place," Barrett said. With the all-age school there named in Miss Lou's honour, Barrett said there are plans to have a statue of her erected in Gordon Town Square.

protective of her faith

Barbara Gloudon, a close friend of Bennett-Coverley, remembered Miss Lou as a very quiet person when she was at home, that she was very protective of her faith and "she has raised more children than you could imagine".

Gloudon implored teachers to put Miss Lou's poems in context as well pronounce the words properly, before sounding the warning not to "mess with her [Miss Lou] copyright!" Gloudon concluded, in part, with "let us vow not to honour a comedian but a woman of class. She was the greatest to work with."

Fae Ellington and Weston Haughton not only acknow-ledged the role Miss Lou played in their career paths, but also lent their voices to two of her poems. Haughton read Love Letta and described Miss Lou as someone who always encouraged people, thus her tendency to say "clap dem" after a performance on Ring, Ding.

Actor and musician Sheldon Shepherd also performed what he described as two of his favourite Miss Lou's poems, Uriah Preach and Roast Turkey. The latter was done to a beat that required the audience's assistance.

Miss Lou is also known to have penned songs and two unlikely groups were given the mandate to perform some. They were the Scotia Singers and the Jamaica Custom Agency Choir. Both groups performed creditably.

Likewise, Miss Lou was also a very good storyteller and this aspect of her life and work was revisited by Amina Blackwood-Meeks. She performed two original pieces, both in the vein of Miss Lou's strong messages.

The evening concluded with the full cast of performers doing a farewell song in true Ring Ding fashion.