Eight outstanding Jamaicans awarded Musgrave medals

Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, Professor Franklin Knight get gold

Thursday, October 17, 2013

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- Eight distinguished Jamaicans were on Wednesday (October 16) awarded Musgrave Medals by the Institute of Jamaica (IOJ), in recognition of their outstanding contributions in the literary, scientific and artistic fields.

Leading the list of awardees renowned composer and musician, Reinford Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, and Professor Franklin Knight, were awarded Gold Medals for their notable contributions in their respective fields.

Perry has distinguished himself in the field of music as a songwriter, producer and talent scout, working with local and international stars such as Bob Marley and the Wailers, Paul McCartney and Lauren Hill.

Professor Knight, a social historian, is Director of the Centre for Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore where he became the first non-white professor in the history of the university to be granted academic tenure.

Silver Musgrave Medals were presented to author, Marlon James; Guitarist, Earl “Chinna” Smith; Author/painter, Franklin Bernal; and Climate change expert, Professor Michael Taylor.

James has published two novels, ‘John Crow’s Devil’ and ‘The Book of Night Women’, the latter of which won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Fiction and the Minnesota Book Award.

Smith, best known for his work with the Soul Syndicate band, has played an integral role in reggae music since its embryonic stages in the early 1970s. He has worked with some of reggae’s biggest acts, including Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, Dennis Brown and Jimmy Cliff.

Self-taught artist and author, Franklin Bernal, has made a significant contribution to the visual culture of independent Jamaica. In 1962, he painted the national symbols -- the Jamaican Coat of Arms, the National Bird, flower and the National Tree, which were used as the official representations distributed by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS).

As the Director of the Climate Studies Group at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Professor Taylor has successfully positioned the organisation as a national and regional research entity to be consulted on matters related to the science of climate change, and has significantly altered the way climate change is spoken of in the Caribbean context.

Additionally, Musgrave Bronze Medals were awarded to poet and writer of short fiction, Dr Pamela Mordecai, and natural products researcher, Dr Trevor Yee.

Dr Mordecai has written articles on Caribbean literature, education and publishing, as well as collaborated on the writing of textbooks, children’s books, five books of poetry for adults, and a collection of short fiction.

As the executive director of the Natural Products Institute Dr Yee has spearheaded the focus on identifying, extracting, and commercialising substances found in nature for the purpose of human growth, development and health.

Responding on behalf of the awardees, Professor Knight expressed gratitude to the council of the IOJ for the honour and recognition.

“You have honoured us far beyond any just measure of expectation and merit. Your elevation has both surprised us and forced us to reflect on the full meaning of the events of today,” he said.

The Musgrave Medal is one of the oldest awards of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. Presented for the first time in 1897, it was introduced as a memorial to Sir Anthony Musgrave, who founded the IOJ in 1879, during his tenure as Governor of Jamaica.


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