Mon | Dec 17, 2018

Lennie Little-White | The magnificent nine

Published:Sunday | November 18, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Lennie Little-White
In this December 29, 2004 photo, potter Norma Harrack works in her studio at 18 Hamilton Terrace.
Dr L'Antoinette Stines
Playwright and producer Basil Dawkins.
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Jamaica's footprint on the international stage is much bigger than its matching land mass. Our creative industries, as one sector of production, remain in a nascent stage because successive governments see them as nothing more than window dressing.

It is this reality why the Mediamix Doctor Bird Awards (MDBA) is being relaunched to celebrate Jamaicans who continue to add value to the stock of Brand Jamaica via the creative industries and honour nine living practitioners while paying homage to those who paved the way.

The first award is in honour of two men who were the foundation of what became Jamaican popular music - Clement 'Coxsone' Dodd and Duke Reid.

The 2018 Doctor Bird Award for Music goes to Gussie Clarke of Anchor Studios.

Gussie Clarke has carried the Coxsone-Duke Reid baton by being possibly the most prolific and successful music producer in Jamaica. Gussie's producer's baton has coaxed a myriad of Jamaica's hitmakers. Since 1988, his own studio, MusicWorks, remains the favourite stamping ground for some of the best in Jamaica's music arena.

 

BUILDING BRIDGES

 

One Jamaican whose epitaph is present in the capital city is the late Denny Repole, who created the high-rise profile of New Kingston. The 2018 Doctor Bird Award for Architecture goes to Evan Williams, in honour of Denny Repole.

Since being a co-founder of Design Collaborative in 1972, Evan Williams has carved a niche with a design portfolio starting with the Citibank high-rise and ballooned to include the best of Sandals and Super Clubs resorts, Edna Manley School of the Visual Arts, Orange Valley Theme Park and the Puerto Seco Beach.

 

... THEN THERE WAS THE WORD

 

Jamaicans are natural storytellers - with tales borrowed equally from Africa and Europe. The storyteller with still the biggest crown is Miss Lou. Following in her shadow is the 2018 Doctor Bird Award for the Written Word - Mutabaruka.

Few can walk in the footsteps of Mutabaruka, who wears no shoes. His eclectic personal style does not define this poet, disc jockey, performer, radio host. His many poems and two books celebrate him as the "street poet of Jamaica".

 

BREAK A LEG

 

Rising to the pinnacle of theatre in Jamaica was the irascible Wycliffe Bennett, whose directing and producing straddled every proscenium arch. In his honour, the 2018 Doctor Bird Awards for Theatre goes to Basil Dawkins - playwright and theatre producer.

The Jamaican theatre renaissance sprouted new playwrights who created a new genre of theatre. One of the principals is Basil Dawkins, whose annual stagings at home and overseas have now become benchmarks for others to emulate.

 

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!

 

Our first international star of film was Perry Henzell, whose The Harder They Come is still considered a seminal piece in cinemas across the globe. Following the trail left by Perry is Natalie Thompson - the 2018 Doctor Bird awardee in the area of Film and Television.

Her discreet style is a perfect camouflage for this veteran, who is a cornerstone of Jamaica's film and video industry. Besides owning her own business, Cinecom, since 1975, she is a producer of prime television commercials. She is better known as the line producer for major Hollywood blockbusters shot in Jamaica, including Cool Runnings, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Cocktails, Instinct, Yardie and the Jamaican Third World Cop.

 

DANCE UP A STORM

 

Dance has its own language and medium of expression with the undisputed king of this creative skill set being the late Professor Rex Nettleford of NDTC fame. The Nettleford honour for Dance goes to Dr L'Antoinette Stines.

Dr Stines returned to Jamaica in 1982 with a vision to develop her own dance form using a unique technique that she christened 'L'Antech' and crystallised within her own company, L'Acadco. While taking her company to many international stages, she honed her academic discipline to earn a doctorate from the UWI while writing two books.

 

STYLE AND FASHION

 

Today, Jamaican models are strutting across runways on both sides of the Atlantic. Before this phenomenon came our own fashion designers. In honour of the doyen of Jamaican fashion designers - the late Francis Keane - the 2018 Doctor Bird Awards awardee for Fashion is Bill Edwards.

Long ago, no young man wanted to be a dressmaker - a tailor, yes, but not a dressmaker. Bill Edwards defied the odds to straddle all aspects of female and male fashion that is worn with pride in Jamaica and around the Caribbean. The Bill Edwards line is now arguably the dominant one in Jamaica.

 

ART IS LIFE

 

Jamaican art has many acknowledged masters, and one legend among them is the late Professor Barrington Watson, in whose name the 2018 Doctor Bird Awards for Fine Art is given to Norma Rodney Harrack.

In the hands of Norma Rodney Harrack, the dust of the earth assumes new life in her ceramic pieces that stand proudly in many galleries and museums across the globe. She continues to impart her skills at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

 

BREAKING BARRIERS

 

PanMedia straddles many non-traditional genres, including photography, advertising, animation and publishing. One of the greatest icons across different media was Reggie Carter of Royal Palm Estate fame and a long resume in advertising. In his honour, the 2018 Doctor Bird Awards for PanMedia goes to Dr Ian Randle (LLD-Hon).

Becoming a publisher made Ian Randle a trailblazer, as he set out to lessen the dependency on European writers. His primary mission was to find and publish scholarly work in Jamaica and the Caribbean. This content soon spread to include the African experience. In 2013, he was awarded an honorary PhD by the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, in Trinidad.

This august group of nine selected for the 2018 Mediamix Doctor Bird Awards will join the honour roll at an elite and private ceremony in early December. Their output continues to inspire and show all Jamaica that we can step up and step out with the Creative Industries.

- Lennie Little-White, CD, MA, is a Jamaican filmmaker and writer. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and lennielittle.white@gmail.com.