Grounding with Garvey

Sunday, January 28, 2018

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The philosophies and opinions of National Hero Marcus Garvey will form the backdrop of this year's staging of the Grounation discussion series organised by the Music Museum, an arm of the Institute of Jamaica.

Curator of the museum Herbie Miller noted that this year marks the seventh annual staging of the series, which is being held under the theme 'Garvey's ghost: Muse, Aesthetics, Cultural Arts and Freedom Sounds'. The event will be held each Sunday during the month of February at the Institute of Jamaica's lecture hall in downtown Kingston, starting at 2:00 pm.

“The objective of the series is really to bring scholarly discourse and address the history, sociology and culture of our people through performances and related presentations. This year we intend to show the relationship between the Garvey aesthetic; his opinions and philosophies have been understood by Jamaican artistes. Some may ask why Garvey. We intend to show the cultural importance of his work and the impact it has on modern-day artistes over the course of four Sundays, starting on February 4, through to the 11th, 18th, and culminating on the last Sunday of the month, February 25,” said Miller.

Noted Garvey scholar Professor Rupert Lewis will kick off the series on February 4 with a presentation entitled Marcus Garvey; Culture at Home and Abroad. This will be supplemented by a performance from the Nexxus Performing Arts Ensemble — directed by Hugh Douse who will perform a suite of songs by Jamaican artistes who were inspired by Garvey and his movement, The United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). Among the tracks are Black Star Liner by Fred Locks and The Mighty Diamonds' Roof Over My Head and When The Right Time Come.

Dub poet and radio personality Mutabaruka will guide the afternoon's proceedings and will also perform some of his own works which were inspired by Garvey.

Youth and Garvey will be the focus of the second presentation in the series — February 11. President of the UNIA's Jamaica chapter Stephen Golding will share on the topic 'Lyrical and Literary Garvey: His Poetic and Artistic influence'. Golding will connect the dots linking the UNIA, poetry and contemporary popular music. Young performance artistes Jahiti, Isha Bel and Keith Campbell will share the stage.

One February 18, the presentation will locate Garvey in the philosophy and aesthetic of instrumental music.

Miller will be the main presenter, speaking on 'Freedom Sounds: Marcus Garvey as Inspiration and Muse in the Music of Don Drummond and The Skatellites'.

The JaMM's Repertory Band will supplement his presentation with a programme of music inspired by Garvey.

The Grounation series will wrap on February 25 with Marcus Garvey's Legacy of Performance: Music, Drama, Elocution and Entertainment. For this, Jamaican actress, playwright, scholar, and poet Honor Ford-Smith will be in conversation with writer Tanya Batson-Savage on the cultural legacy of Garvey and the UNIA, highlighting Garvey's understanding of pageantry, parade, costumes, and titles. The performance will feature excerpts from Michael Holgate's dramatic work, Garvey: The Musical.

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