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The Jamaican Folk Singers: Season of 'Edutainment'

Published:Thursday | August 9, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Gleaner Writer
Jamaica Folk Singers

'Edutainment' appears to be the new order of the day for local traditional performance groups.

In celebration of their 25th anniversary, the ASHE performance troupe hosted their annual summer school programme. Later this year, they will invite schools across the island to participate in an 'edutainment' festival, to include master dance, drumming, and drama sessions - and it seems that another group has similar ideas.

For their 51-year anniversary celebrations is their focus will be on education through entertainment, and to highlight the traditions and lessons passed down over generations through song - to communicate this year's working theme of 'Strengthening Communities'.

"Sitting and lecturing is not the only way to teach. In this season, the most obvious form of this is going to be in a section incorporating children," ensemble leader Christine MacDonald Nevers told The Gleaner.

"Part of our mission, apart from unearthing aspects of folk music culture, is about sharing and teaching it. It's a constant thing - to be educating while entertaining. Just sharing aspects of our culture is part of teaching, loosely speaking," she said.

With this season, which is slated to begin on September 7, titled 'Vintage Folk', the Singers will present five segments, with each telling its own story. To end the show, there will be a focus on 'Dance Forms', including Scottish dancing and forms of Quadrille.

With a repertoire of over 200 songs arranged by founder Dr Olive Lewin, The Singers have performed extensively at home and abroad in several countries, including Martinique, Barbados, Cuba, Mexico, USA, Germany, Canada, Great Britain, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, and Argentina.

More recently, the group travelled to Costa Rica to perform at the Limon Roots Afro Cultural Festival as part of efforts to help further cultural relationships between Jamaica and Costa Rica.

In addition to overseas tours, the group has arranged island tours, giving free performances in markets, schools, church halls, and town centres across the island.