Granny Nanny cultural group releases double-CD
The story of Moore Town, located in the Blue and John Crow Mountains of eastern Jamaica, is steeped in Maroon history and heritage.
The Maroons in Jamaica resisted and escaped from slavery, an institution of plantation servitude perpetuated by European capitalists for over 300 years, to establish their own lifestyle among flora and fauna endemic to the region.
In 2008, the intangible heritage of Moore Town, Portland, was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, originally proclaimed in 2003. And in 2015, The Blue and John Mountains National Park was inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage Sites list as the first mixed (cultural and natural) site for the Caribbean subregion.
Thus, the preservation of the narratives, songs, instruments, art and craft, and oral traditions of Moore Town is what the Maroons have been encouraged to do over the years, and recently, the Moore Town Granny Nanny Cultural Group, on the heels of a successful tour of the United States, released a double-CD of traditional Maroon music and oral traditions.
Executive-produced by Harcourt Fuller, PhD, this debut album, titled Granny Nanny Come Oh: Jamaican Maroon Kromanti and Kumina Music and Other Oral Traditions is a collector's item and features 31 tracks of live studio recordings of traditional Jamaican Maroon and Bongo-Kumina songs, drumming and other types of music, oral history, an Anansi story, African language retentions, etc.
The album, which was recorded at the Jamaica Music Institute Recording Studio (JaMIN) in Trench Town, is accompanied by a 40-page colour booklet with photographs and information about Maroon history and music, in addition to transcriptions and the historical background of the tracks.
"On this very special album, we hear how the younger generation of Moore Town Maroons, in conversation with their elders, are bringing new life to the unique Maroon musical traditions handed down from their foreparents. Drawing on two of the most African of Jamaica's traditional music, Kromanti and Kumina, these direct descendants of the great leader and Jamaican National Hero Nanny show that her spirit remains very much alive among them," Kenneth Bilby, author of True-Born Maroons and compiler of Drums of Defiance: Music of the Maroons of Jamaica, said.
The Granny Nanny Cultural Group is a traditional Maroon performing-arts ensemble, which consists of master musicians, drummers, storytellers, craftspeople, herbal healers, and spiritualists. The group was formed in the early 1990s by Maroon elders and youth to honour the legacy of their Akan priestess and warrior ancestor, Queen Nanny of the Windward Jamaican Maroons.
Many of the songs on this album are about their struggles against slavery and colonialism and in praise of Granny Nanny, who is Jamaica's only national heroine.
Major Charles Aarons is the director of the Granny Nanny Cultural Group. He has over 60 years' experience as a world-renowned master drummer, abeng (side-blown cattle's horn) blower, traditional healer, oral historian, and cultural activist.
The two-CD album can also be retrieved in digital download on CDBaby at http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/thegrannynannyculturalgr. It will also be available on Amazon, iTunes, and other online music outlets soon. All proceeds from the album go to the Moore Town Granny Nanny Cultural Group and should benefit the wider Maroon community, Dr Fuller said.