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Edna Manley was in town

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If ah never did know bout de “Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA),” ah got me appetite whet to go find out more on Sat-dey Night December 29, 2019, after Rodney Small’s “Steel Expressions”.

De EMCVPA is like de Mecca of Carib-Beyond Culture, up dey, dey tek de raw material, seeds and seedlings in Music, Dance, Drama, Visual Arts and Arts Management and in three to five years dey deliver ah bounty-ful harvest of Home Grown Carry-Beyond Fruits, Talent Galore!. And is not to say dat we doh have both In- and Out-standing Vin-Sin-Shun Graduates of dis Noble Institution, doing great wuk right hey in de Arts in Sin-Vin-Sin. Now ah know ah does all time get into trouble from de moment ah start to men-shun ah few names of EMCVPA All-loom-Nigh de likes of Goffre Venner, Vin Stewart, Ashley Kirby, Junior Sutherland. Michelle Williams, Jackie “Pollard” Jack, Maxine Browne; Ann-Marie Venner; Dexter Bacchus, Dennis Jardine, Pennola Ross; oh boy trouble, ah running out ah names: Darron Andrews, Rejaun “Dixie” Baptiste, lots ah Music, Drama and Arts Teachers in our schools, so ley me round it off wid Rodney Small, since dis Article is triggered by Rodney’s Stellar Presentation. Remember dey’s Cellar and Stellar.

My first experience of ah “Rodney Performance” was years ago at Peace Mo when dis brimish, lickle 12-year-ole youth-man Played Pan Solo at ah function. He was smartly dressed and looked cute in bow-tie. Even back den he was bursting and boasting wid talent from morning. Ah went and ‘Big-him-up’ right after and suggested he go have ah chat wid Music Officer, Goffre Venner about teaching him de Theory of (Pan) Music. He played hide and seek foh ah while, slipped off to Canada, returned, and then Hon Rene Baptiste, de Minister of Culture who had ah keen eye in and interest foh young talent, spotted Rodney, adopted him, and he was off to attend Edna Manley College in Jah-mek-her (him).

From all reports Rodney made ah name foh him-self and SVG where-ever he performed in Jam down. Jah-mek-ah Musician, song-writer, vocalist, Ibo Cooper former member of de Band Third World, (remember “96 degrees in de shade”) now ah Teacher at Edna Manley College, came in last month foh de Steel and Glitter Show, told patrons dat some years ago, SVG sent them ah Trio of music students Darron Andrews, Rejaun Baptiste and Rodney, all three wid budding talent, Rodney in particular was an asset to de school wherever he performed. He challenged us dat night to treasure Rodney’s Gift, because he will one day bring fame to SVG. Furthermore he said, de Jah-mek-an Go-venom-mint is ready to steal Rodney from us. Lie-Za say to tell Professor Ibo doh waste he breath, dis is not Jah-mek-her, we had de Great Shake Keane, Inter-nah-shun-all horn player, came back to SVG to wuk as Director of Culture, from de moment Labour Party Go-venom-mint took office in 1974, ah minister said we can’t eat Culture, dey close down de ministry and Shake Keane was out of ah job. We have Maestros Frankie Mc Intosh and Sean Sutherland great musicians, but we will quicker see ah far-reign-yah come here as honoured VIP guest dan any ah we own.

Me article nearly done and ah ain’t say ah thing bout Steel Expressions 2019. It was ah Production covering de Musical journey thru Slavery up to today. Incidentally the first edition of Steel Expressions was Rodney’s presentation foh his Final Year Examination at Edna Manley College. Ah doh know way Rodney got de finances but de Stage, Ambience, Lighting, Sound and so on were of ah high professional standard. Individual performances were good, we had Rodney, Saeed Bowman “ah star on de move” and student of Ah-loom-nigh Ashley Kirby. Permit me to Big-up my Cuatro Student now Key Boardist, G-Ron Maule among de bandsmen. Rodney was his usual outstanding Best. So too was de lickle 11-year-ole daughter who sang ‘Dutty Man’ dat was relevant in these times in SVG, she went down well wid patrons.

De Show peaked very early and kept climbing and when we thought it could not reach any higher heights, Professor Michael “Ibo” Cooper graced de stage and literally put icing pon de cake, taking de Show to its final level. He took us “singing along” thru de historical journey of de Jak-mek-her musical Genre, de Reggae. It all began wid de ole time Spiritual and Revival music dat developed into de “Mento”, from Mento de Carry-Beyond was flooded wid “de Jah-mek-ah Ska”! How well older folks like Doctors Fraser and Ken John would remember de Rock Steady, and finally foh de younger people like me-self and Lie-Za, he closed off wid de Reggae. Thank You Rodney and many thanks Professor Ibo Cooper, come again we love yuh! And wid dat is gone ah gone again.

One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.

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