Nooks's chat with Miss Lou

Nooks's chat with Miss Lou

By Howard Campbell
Observer writer

Friday, September 06, 2019

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While waiting to board his flight to Jamaica at the Toronto International Airport in August 2003, George Nooks noticed an elderly lady sitting patiently in the departure lounge. It was none other than the legendary Louise “Miss Lou” Bennett-Coverley.

The singer remembers going over to greet her and “bless har up”.

According to Nooks, “Yuh have certain people dat come on Earth an' leave some special footprint. She was one of dem.”

Miss Lou, who died in 2006, would have turned 100 years old tomorrow. In the summer of 2003, she headed to Jamaica for the last time, where she was honoured by the government in a star-studded gala at Emancipation Park in Kingston.

Nooks, who was in Toronto for some shows, recalls that he “hold a reason” on the flight to Kingston with Miss Lou who had lived in Canada for over 20 years. He first heard of the buxom folklorist in the 1960s when he was a student at Unity Primary School in rural St Andrew.

“Back then, Miss Lou was it, wi used to learn har poem dem. Shi was a breath of fresh air, a lady mi always admire,” said Nooks.

When he moved to Kingston in the 1970s to start a recording career, Nooks kept in tune with Miss Lou through Ring Ding, the popular television variety show she hosted at the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation.

Ring Ding featured children performing Jamaican folk songs and cultural items, as well as dance groups from inner-city and rural communities.

At the time he met Miss Lou in Toronto, George Nooks was enjoying a career revival thanks to the gospel song, God is Standing By. He remains an in-demand act, with his latest song being You Make me Feel Brand New, a gospel take on The Stylistics' 1974 ballad.

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