Part I of II – Documentary on Jamaican National Heroine to Screen at the 24th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival.
New York, January 15, 2016 – The legendary Nanny of the Maroons is Jamaica’s only female National Heroine. She was an eighteenth-century, African warrior Queen who led a band of former enslaved Africans in the mountains of Jamaica to a decisive victory over the mighty British army. Despite all this acclaim, Queen Nanny remains a mystery. Her name is mentioned only four times in textbooks. And so most of what we know about her comes through oral tales and legends.
Conceived by veteran movie stuntman and award-winning filmmaker, Roy T. Anderson and History Professor Harcourt T. Fuller, PhD, this landmark, one-hour, documentary film will unearth and examine this mysterious figure that is Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess.
Sponsored by the Jamaica Cultural Alliance (JCA), a Los Angeles 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Queen Nanny will have its West Coast Premiere as an official selection of the 24th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival on Saturday, February 6, 2016 @ 7 pm, at the Rave Cinemas Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza 15 in Los Angeles, CA. A private, invitation-only reception will precede the film’s showing. Queen Nanny had a very successful World Premiere screening on October 19, 2015 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, as part of the 2015 Remember Slavery Programme of Activities along with screenings of such films as Selma and Book of Negroes (BET). The World Premiere also drew attention to the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024). The United Nations is also is considering the film as part of their educational outreach for Slavery Remembrance Day, to be observed Friday, March 25, 2016.
Queen Nanny was filmed in Jamaica, Ghana, Canada, and the United States over the course of two years, and include interviews with Maroons and scholars who are experts in Caribbean history and the study of slavery. As we seek to uncover the history and legacy of Queen Nanny, her intriguing story is told through songs, performances, and a series of reenactments.
This film also looks at Queen Nanny’s legacy and impact on contemporary women in general, with interviews featuring, among others: Jamaica’s current Prime Minister, The Most Hon. Portia Simpson-Miller; double Olympic and World Champion sprinter Shelley-Ann Fraser-Pryce; the “Queen of Reggae” Rita Marley; U.S. Congresswoman Yvette Clarke; University Professors Verene Shepherd and Linda Heywood. View YouTube teaser at https://www.youtube.com/embed/nF_Os_yW-D4.
TEF Provides Over $3.4 Million to Support Venture
Kingston, Jamaica: December 11, 2015 – State Minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment Hon. Damion Crawford has welcomed news that the push to have Kingston designated a Creative City of Music by UNESCO has yielded significant success. This comes on the heels of the official announcement by UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, that Kingston was among 10 creative music cities which were designated this year.
The designation resulted from a strategic partnership between the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment through the Entertainment Advisory Board, the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) and the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC) and other stakeholders. The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) has provided over $ 3.4 million to date to support the venture.
The process was initiated by the Ministry’s Entertainment Advisory Board in 2013 and was aimed at ensuring that Kingston becomes a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, which focuses on resuscitating the economic viability of cities through arts, culture and community. The venture then received overwhelming support from the KSAC which played a pivotal role in facilitating the successful submission of a formal application to have the city designated.
The announcement also follows a recent trip by the Ministry’s Senior Director of Entertainment, Gillian Wilkinson McDaniel and Kingston’s Town Clerk, Robert Hill to Japan to lobby for the designation to be granted at the UNESCO World Creative City Forum.
The detailed application was submitted on July 15, 2015 after several consultations spearheaded by the EAB and the KSAC with partners such as the Urban Development Corporation, University of the West Indies, Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Institute of Jamaica (IOJ) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica.
Since then, a national steering committee has been formed with the objective of implementing projects across the corporate area which will foster the development of the creative industries in Kingston. “I am very pleased that the initiative was successful and it is further proof that hard-work and partnerships can have a far reaching impact. I am convinced that the designation will help to boost our efforts to position Kingston as a cultural city and will also enhance the appeal of Jamaica to travellers with a special interest in culture,” Minister Crawford expressed.
The Minister also believes that the designation will enhance Jamaica’s competiveness. “I am confident that Kingston’s designation as a Creative Music City will boost our standing as a competitive destination in accordance with the World Economic Forum’s Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI),” he said.
UNESCO’s Creative Cities programme was started in 2004 as an initiative to unite cities from across the globe through creative industries. It is policy-driven at the municipal and national level. The network is currently formed by 69 members from 32 countries covering seven creative fields – crafts & folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, music and media arts.
Other cities also recognised creative cities of music include: Tongyeong (Republic of Korea), Varanasi (India), Adelaide (Australia), Idanha-a-Nova (Portugal), Katowice (Poland), Salvador (Brazil), Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of the Congo), Liverpool (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) and Medellín (Colombia).
For further information contact:
- Alyssa Taffe
- Public Relations Officer
- Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment
- 64 Knutsford Boulevard
- Kingston 5
- Tel: 920-4926-30, ext: 5989
There is a persistent myth that seeks to suggest that the influence of Caribbean music on the rest of the world is a recent phenomenon, and that prior to the appearance of Bob Marley and Reggae music the Caribbean had no significant presence in the wider world. Not only that, but there is no general awareness of the musical life of Marley during the period when he was just a Wailer along with Peter
Tosh and Bunny Livingstone, and made very successful recordings of R & B ballads
Gospel and Ska.
The other myth is that Rhythm belongs to Africa and melody to Europe, and that any person of African heritage who engages the so-called European musical aesthetic, or seeks to be technically equipped to play a musical instrument is mentally enslaved in Euro-centrism. Together these two persistent myths have been the lynchpins of a social engineering strategy, employed to create perhaps unwittingly, a generation of Jamaicans (since this is not the case in the other English-speaking parts of the region) disconnected from melody as music, incapable of actually hearing and identifying discordant sounds, and has produced a new recording industry, peopled by producers who create a single rhythm track
upon which several, or endless numbers of singers, and this word is used reservedly, perform without concern for differences in quality of voice or range, or even differences in the structure of the work to be recorded. But before there was ‘global cultural diffusion’ a term used by Orlando Patterson in his work ‘Global Culture and the Cosmos’ there was ‘world music’ and before that there was the usual globe-
trotting activities of artistic prophets and musicians from the Caribbean such as Bertie King-Sax, Coleridge Goode-Bass, Joe Harriot-sax, Lord Kitchener-Calypsonian composer, and Lord Beginner, Jiver Hutchinson-trumpet, Dizzy Reece-trumpet, Little G. McNair-flute, Shake Keane, Snake-hips Johnson and Cyril Blake a vocalist-trumpeter and guitarist, whose band was recorded live at Jigs Club
in Wardour Street, by Parlophone records in 1941 during the second world war. Earlier still, during the twenties, Sam Manning and Fred Hall and Carl Berrateau who were major recording stars on what was known as the ‘race records’ circuit. Even earlier still there were recordings by Trinidadian musicians, issued in the UK.
Says John Cowley in his paper on ethnic relations in the UK: ‘ it must be stated that although most of the recordings were of Trinidadian musicians, “mentor” as in the Cole Mentor Orchestra who accompanied Sam Manning in 1926, and used to describe Lionel Belasco’s unissued 1948 recording,
Jamaica Serenade, is almost certainly the Jamaican song/dance form usually spelt mento…..This and other clues such as the presence of Jamaicans inLondon jazz/dance bands in the 1930s indicates they were part of the West Indian musical spectrum at this time.’
Beginning in June 1912, with New York recordings by Lovey’s Trinidad String Band, made both for the Victor Talking Machine and Columbia Gramophone companies, British West Indian music has a long history on gramophone records.Victor and Columbia visited Trinidad in 1914 for on-the-spot recordings; the
former issuing examples of Native Trinidad Kalenda by Jules Sims and Double Tone and Single Tone Calipso by J. Resigna (chantwelle, Julian Whiterose). Victor also discovered and started their many recordings of Trinidad pianist and bandleader Lionel Belasco. ( Who was probably the first black musician to be recorded) Perhaps because all speech is powerful and sacred, and words do not return
to us void but wanders about in the air until they fulfill themselves, we who are African descendants, and bearers of an oral civilization, tend to pay rather more attention to our verbal artists than to the instrument playing musician whose work, by its very nature, is evanescent; even when musical works are recorded, there is difficulty in retaining their pattern without words to lock them into the memory.
For this very reason, simple chants, and short repetitive phrases are favoured. The DJ of Dance hall is the modern day Griot whose praise/curse occupation and pre-occupation, enables him to memorize and speak long lines of speech in his oral presentation, accompanied only by a sustained rhythm which aids the process of recall. It is for the same reason that the Calypso and Mento troubadours were
popular, both forms being storytelling forms whose real currency was words. Nevertheless the instrument playing musician had and continues to have a very important role to play, for no matter how short or how simple the phrase, it is the musician who must create it; every successful calypsonian is a musician, playing either the guitar or the banjo, and every Mento band is made up of musicians playing an instrument and singing, and every one of Jamaica’s popular music stars owes more than 50% of their successes to the musicians who created the music to which they sang, and who helped them in many cases to organize the grammatical content of their songs. There can be no dancing without music; no films, no plays; Why have we come to regard complex musical structures and their creators within a
Caribbean space, with suspicion? There is no lack of evidence of musicianship in Africa; the many instruments of melody that are African in origin speaks to the myth that Africa only had rhythm. The vibraphone has an antecedent in the African xylophone; the many stringed instruments including the Banjo stands as evidence as well as the many wind instruments of African origin. The SANKO is a Zither type
instrument known to the Ashanti and the KOONTING, a 3-stringed plucked instrument, the KORRO an 18 stringed Harp and the Simbing a small 7-stringed harp all known to the Mandingoes as well as a 5-stringed Mandolin known to the Gabon are some of the many instruments of melody known in Africa.
Recently at a presentation ceremony to hand over to Dr. Olive Lewin CDs of her research collection, she remarked in her thank-you speech that she looked forward to the time when the traditional music forms collected and preserved would form the basis of large orchestral works, and I recalled being at a concert of the Jamaica Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Mr. Sidthorpe Becket in 1978 and hearing
the Linstead Market Suite composed by Mapletoffe Poulle, who incidentally, had a hand in the creation of the melody of the Jamaica National Anthem. Perhaps because of Mr. Poulle’s middle class, his work was ignored. But then, what of the works of Ms. Marjorie Whylie for the National Dance Theatre Company, of Mr. Noel Dexter’s religious compositions for the Caribbean church using the Caribbean
musical traditional forms? of Mr. Peter Ashbourne? and of Barry Chevannes?
… chapter 2 coming up soon.
For many, Garth Fagan is synonymous with “The Lion King” which has gained international acclaim worldwide. According to the Los Angeles Times, “The source of his good spirits is the announcement in the latter part of 2014 that “The Lion King,” which opened in 1997 and is still running on Broadway, has become the most successful work of entertainment in history, surpassing $6.2 billion in ticket sales from New York, national tour and international productions.”
Despite his numerous successes, Mr. Fagan does not shy away from is roots incorporating various traditional forms from the Caribbean as was seen in his latest production of “The Lighthouse/Lightning Rod” that toured Los Angeles recently. The name of the production tells you that Mr. Fagan is makes no bones about his Jamaican heritage. As if you were at a port or seaside town in Jamaica, Mr. Fagan paints the perfect picture explaining that “a lighthouse brings ships home safely, and lightning rods come when they want to, irrespective of what you’re doing.”
Mr. Fagan’s work has not gone unnoticed and the Jamaica Cultural Alliance (JCA) seized the opportunity to recognize his accomplishment, for setting a high standard and blazing a trail in Caribbean culture and history. The Order of distinction awardee was very proud of the recognition and beam that “it is always great to be recognized and even better when it’s done by your own – “I’ll place this award on my mantle right next to my Tonys”, he continued. Other dignitaries on hand to witness the presentation were Debbie Allen, Robert Guillaume and Wren T. Brown, actor and Founder/ Producer of the Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT)
Asked if he sees retirement any time soon the 74 year old Mr. Fagan whose troupe has toured around the world — except Antarctica, replied — “zero plans to retire. Lord, no. I love the work, I love my dancers, I love choreography, and I always set myself new challenges and come up with new ideas. What would I retire to?”