A special concert in honour of late cultural icon, Dr. the Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley, affectionately called “Miss Lou”, will be held in Gordon Town Square, St. Andrew, on October 15.
The event is being coordinated by a committee of the Gordon Town Citizen’s Association in collaboration with the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC).
It will take place at the Miss Lou Statue, which was unveiled by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, on September 7, 2018.
Acting Executive Director of the JCDC, Marjorie Leyden-Kirton, told JIS News that the concert is part of activities to mark Miss Lou’s 103rd birthday.
The month-long celebrations of the life and work of the late cultural icon started on September 7, the anniversary of her birth.
Activities were initially planned to end September 30 but will continue into October.
Various parish exhibitions, concerts and bandana competitions have already been held to mark the occasion, in addition to the unveiling of a bust at the Main Library at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona.
Ms. Leyden-Kirton noted that, over the years, the JCDC has collaborated with various parish libraries to honour Miss Lou.
This includes exhibitions on her life and work and concerts featuring Miss Lou’s songs and poems.
“Almost every parish library should have a Miss Lou exhibition,” she said, noting that the Westmoreland Parish Library in Savanna-la-Mar has been staging activities in honour of the late cultural icon for the past five years.
On September 23, the library hosted a Miss Lou Concert and Bandana Competition, where students were judged on their design of bandana outfits as well as speech performances.
On that same day, another event, titled ‘Miss Lou Sinting’, was held at the Grants Pen Primary School in Yallahs, St. Thomas. All schools in the area were invited to perform a Miss Lou poem, song, or ring game.
Miss Lou died on July 26, 2006 in Toronto, where she lived for many years. She was accorded an official funeral by the Government and interred at National Heroes Park.
Referring to the contributions by the Jamaican folklorist, Ms. Leyden-Kirton noted that Miss Lou has given patois recognition around the world.
“She was the one who was able to give our language… recognition and acceptance because of how she was able to present it so that many others could appreciate it. She made it popular through the theatre,” she said.
Mrs. Leyden-Kirton noted that patois is the language of the Jamaican people.
“When they use it, they are comfortable and enjoy it. It is for others to interpret what we are saying. People should learn and understand the patois like how they have to learn and understand Spanish and other languages,” she pointed out.
Meanwhile, in October, the JCDC will collaborate with parish libraries to commemorate the birthday of the late actor, playwright, and cultural activist, and friend of Miss Lou, Randolph “Ranny” Williams.
Mr. Williams also known as “Maas Ran”, was born on October 26, 1912, in Colon ,Panama, and died on August 10, 1980.
Mrs. Leyden-Kirton said there will be exhibitions on Maas Ran at parish libraries so that people could learn more about him and his contribution to Jamaica.
“We will definitely have our exhibitions up and we will have some form of tributes, so that we recognise Maas Ran also,” she said, noting that information about Miss Lou’s collaboration with Maas Ran is always shared at the parish library exhibitions.
Mrs. Leyden-Kirton said that Maas Ran was very popular in pantomimes, films and on television, and had partnered with Miss Lou in the performing and scripting of several pantomimes.
His first pantomime ‘Bluebeard and Brer Anancy’ was in 1942. He has received many honours and awards, including the Institute of Jamaica Silver Musgrave Medal in 1968, and the Commander of the Order of Distinction (Commander Class).
In recognition of his achievements, the Government established the Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre on Hope Road, St. Andrew, in 1974.
The property, located next to Jamaica House, is used for various entertainment activities, including JCDC events.
The Louise Bennett Garden Theatre adjoins the facility.