Tue | Nov 21, 2017

For the Reckord | Miss Lou, Olive Lewin honoured

Published:Friday | September 15, 2017 | 12:00 AMMichael Reckord
Jamaican Folk Singers members Christine MacDonald Nevers (left), Clover Batts (centre) and Hazel Ramsay McClune.
Host Deon Silvera (left), Dr Pamela Appelt (centre) and Barbara Gloudon at the Louise Bennett Tribute.
Coleen Lewis, narrator the folk songs.
The Jamaican Folk Singers in a serious mood.
The Jamaican Folk Singers' drummers provide kumina music for the singers to dance.
The Jamaican Folk Singers play a game while singing ‘Manuel Road’ at the LittleTheatre during their recent 2017 season.
Onstage the two-headed duppy (left) and Mrs Anancy, characters in an Anancy story told at the Louise Bennett Tribute Concert, Hope Road, St Andrew, on September 7.
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Two Jamaican cultural icons, the Hon Louise 'Miss Lou' Bennett-Coverley and Dr the Hon Olive Lewin, were honoured at concerts last weekend.

Two Miss Lou concerts were mounted on September 7, the 98th anniversary of her birth. One was at the Norman Manley International Airport, the other at the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre, Hope Road. I attended the latter and two days later, the 50th Anniversary concert of the Jamaican Folk Singers, which Lewin founded. The current leader of the Folk Singers, Christine MacDonald Nevers, told me that the true anniversary date had been March 15 and that the two-day concert season was "part of the celebrations."

The MC of the Miss Lou concert, Deon Silvera, was also moderator of the reflections on Miss Lou's life and legacy by Dr Pamela Applet, executor of her estate, and Barbara Gloudon. The verbal picture painted was of an immensely talented, generous, fun-filled, socially active and patriotic visionary.

There were varied cultural items, some directly, others only tangentially related, to Miss Lou. Two audience favourites were original songs. Dahlia Harris' Bandana Song tells of the beauty and uses of bandana cloth - a material closely associated with Miss Lou - while Venice 'Victor' Jackson Jackson's song about Miss Lou's contribution to Jamaica, especially her championing of the Jamaican language.

Other items included a dramatisation of an Anansi story by the LTM Pantomime Company, a bandana fashion show featuring designs by Courtney Washington, and two Miss Lou poems recited by Silvera and pre-teen Courtney Greaves, a JCDC Gold medallist.

Reggae artiste Nesbeth was also invited to perform.

This year's Folk Singers' themes were Work, in Memoriam, Kumina, Rememberin', Let's Get Together, and Revival. There were frequent costume changes to suit the themes, which were all commented on in the printed programme. Additional information came from narrator Coleen Lewis.

Lewin's successor as leader, Christine MacDonald Nevers, has over the past few years added new singers. The newcomers sang and moved on stage well, making the sound of the show as delightful as ever.

Thanks for that aural beauty must also go to the excellent accompanying band, as well as guest performers, the Tallawah Mento Band Band.