Sat | Feb 24, 2018

Life More Abundant at Cecilio Ave - St Andrew High choir records school song

Published:Tuesday | April 12, 2016 | 11:05 PM
St Andrew High School principal, Sharon Reid (front right) and members of the school's choir sing the school song at Almond Productions, New Kingston.
Marie Cunningham-Clarke (left) and St Andrew High School students during the recording session at Almond Productions, New Kingston.
St Andrew High School principal Sharon Reid (left) and Jon Williams At Almond Productions, New Kingston, during the recording of the school's song.

In June 2015, the flag was hoisted at St Andrew High School for Girls (SAHS), Cecilio Avenue, to mark the beginning of the school's 90th anniversary celebrations. As part of the commemoration, last Tuesday, its school song, which is more than 50 years old, was recorded at Almond Productions, New Kingston.

The recording resulted from the efforts of an old girl of the institution and three of Jamaica's outstanding musicians. However, the journey was not a walk in the park, SAHS principal Sharon Reid noted.

"From the first day I came to St Andrew I wondered why the school didn't have a school song. Then I found out, in the handbook, that there was a song, but nobody knew the tune," Reid said.

The song was written by then member of the SAHS Board of Governors Kathleen Hicklings. Over the years, more than one attempt was made to get a melody for it, but to no avail. Then a St Andrew High old girl, Marie Cunningham-Clarke, was given the responsibility of doing so.

Reid said Cunningham-Clarke was told :"It's our 90th anniversary, and we need a school song. Please make sure that we get a tune or we get a song."

Clarke contacted former college mate and friend of SAHS Jasmine Bayley-Hay and SAHS old girl Marjorie Whylie. Bayley-Haye and Whylie, who know each other very well, collaborated, the former in scoring the song. She changed the original standard melody to a catchy Caribbean folk tune.

Then it was on to Almond Productions. "When I first heard the melodic structure, it sounded like it could take the folk beat, and also, since it's a Jamaican expression of the anthem, I thought it would be a nice lively rhythm that captured the feel and the nature of the song, Life More Abundant."

Jon Williams (parent of a past St Andrew High student), who orchestrated the song, said.

Williams also thought that the lyrics of the song, which begin with the school's motto 'Life More Abundant', "hit the nail on the head".

Williams, who undertook to make the recording, said the session with the students was a good one as the girls sang well and enjoyed themselves. "I think the day came off quite well," Williams said.

For choir members Savanna Witter and Delreece Green, the experience was great. "It feels great to be a part of SAHS Choir and to have an experience like this" Witter said.

Green felt going to the studio a first-time experience was a very good opportunity. Both said they enjoyed the new music and the catchy lyrics encompassed their school's mission statement.

Reid said, "The whole of Half-Way Tree will hear it on our legacy march on Tuesday, April 12." The march is one of several activities planned for SAHS Home Coming Week, April 10 -16, during which copies of the song will be sold on CD.

A literary evening is also part of the celebrations.