More recognition needed for mento writers
Musicologist Roy Black is calling for greater recognition for mento songwriters whom he feels have been overlooked.
This was the focus of his presentation at the sixth Jamaica Music Museum Reggae/Black History Month Grounation on February 5 at the Lecture Hall of the Institute of Jamaica.
“Basically, I would say that the songwriters’ [of mento] role was very, very important, and I think it should be given more recognition. Because most times you don’t hear much about these people that wrote these songs and I think it is very important,” said Black. “They were not ordinary people.”
Black, who hosts the weekly The Saturday Night Alternative on FM.89, named Everard Williams as one of Jamaica’s first great lyricists. He was influential in the rise of seminal duo Slim and Sam during the 1940s.
Among the songs Williams wrote are Night Food and Dry Weather House, recorded by Alerth Bedasse and Chin’s Calypso Sextet. Hubert Porter was also mentioned among mento’s top lyricists.
Mento predates popular Jamaican music. The twangy sound is still popular in North Coast hotels where most mento bands play. Stanley Beckford, The Astronauts, and the resurgent Jolly Boys are some of the popular artistes in contemporary mento.
— Basil Walters