Celebrating Sonny Bradshaw


Celebrating Sonny Bradshaw

Observer senior reporter

Sunday, October 04, 2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic may have put the brakes on the 30th anniversary staging of the Jamaica International Ocho Rios Jazz Festival, but the event's co-founder and jazz chanteuse Dr Myrna Hague Bradshaw was not daunted.

In the true sense of the current catchword, she pivoted and found a new and innovative way to continue to celebrate the legacy of her late husband, renowned musician, arranger and the driving force behind the event Sonny Bradshaw Come October 10, Hague Bradshaw has put together a virtual symposium to examine the impact of the festival one of the few authentic jazz festivals in the world having stayed true to its founding tenets and not included popular music in its line-up. The online event will also place her late husband's work under the microscope to share his impact on the development of the Jamaican musical culture and heritage.

“Since there was no jazz festival this year we just decided that we had to do something. Everyone is taking their events online so we said why not the Jamaica International Ocho Rios Jazz Festival?” Hague Bradshaw shared with the Jamaica Observer.

“This year's event, which was scheduled for June, would have been our 30th anniversary, so we just decided to take a look back at the festival, some of the memorable moments, and some of the great acts who have performed here. But then we thought what would the festival be without its founder? So, the symposium will take a look at his life and his contribution,” she added.

Among the aspect's of Bradshaw's life to be examined are his creation of the Teenage Dance Party, an event which exposed young people to the music of the day back in the 1960s; his conceptualisation of the Tastee Talent Contest which over the past 40 years has unearthed some of leading figures in local entertainment; his work in the establishment of the musician's union; as well as his musical prowess as an arranger and trumpeter; the formation of the Jamaica Big Band.

“This generation has no real sense of the history of Jamaican music. Many are of the feeling that it began with Mr Bob Marley. What is interesting is that the Jamaican musical sound was developed and being showcased many years prior to that, and Jamaican musicians were being celebrated all over the world years before. So we just want to create a space and share some knowledge.”

She is also pleased with the response she has received to the staging of this symposium which, she said, speaks to the high esteem in which both the festival and Bradshaw are held.

“The feedback is simply fantastic. One of the things that an online event offers is the opportunity for persons all over the world to join in. Some of the persons who were part of Teenage Dance Party still get together, and they will be joining us to share their experiences. The jazz community from all over the world is also looking at this with interest. Because it was one of a few genuine jazz festivals, like-minded musicians always found it a great place to play and for many it stands out in their minds and so, they are also on board to share their experiences,” said Hague Bradshaw.

Among the presenters and performers who are slated to present at the symposium are Monty Alexander, Nadine Sutherland, Frankie Campbell, Dean Fraser, Jackie Jackson, Marjorie Whylie, Desi Jones, Jon Williams, and Ernie Ranglin.

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