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Emancipation Celebrations 2006

Pathways: A musical Journey
Staff Article
July 25, 2006

It is indeed a rare thing to come to one place and witness so much talent. On Saturday, 22nd July, 2006, at the Little Carib Theatre, this was the place to be if one wanted to witness such a talent explosion.

The theatre, which was as black as the cool night, was filled with people who came for the dual purpose of attending a good show and also to begin the 2006 Emancipation Celebrations.

After Avis Bruce and Kareem Brown performed the National Anthem on the steelpan, the audience was treated to a dance performance by the North West Laventille Cultural Movement depicting one aspect of the African cultural tradition. They were dressed in their orange, white and gold garbs which provided much energy to the theatre and which added to their already exuberant performance.

The drummers, dressed in fiery red, also provided the energy from which the dancers fed upon and which amplified the audience's excitement. All present felt the energy within their veins and were moved to sway in their seats.

Next was a moving poem by Denise Charles entitled, "A Musical Journey." Her style of poetry was quite unique, beautiful and informative, which correctly depicted the evolution of African music out of the continent to the various styles of music ranging from Rock 'n' Roll to Calypso in the Americas and in the Caribbean. She also articulated in her poem the demonization of African culture which managed to survive through a variety of musical forms.

Following this was a selection of slave songs, 'negro' spirituals and gospel songs sung by various artistes. The first was "Is Massa Goin' to Sell Us Tomorrow" and "I Looked for Love", by Tahirah Osborne. People at first seemed stunned that this woman with a petite frame could possess such an enormous voice but she won the hearts of the audience from the moment she arrived on stage.

Joanne Pyle was next with the powerful rendition of "There Is a Meeting", which resurfaced memories of our African ancestors gathering together to find ways of escaping their condition of pyhsical bondage.

Rhona Mohon with songs, "I Want Jesus to Walk with Me" and "Many Thousand Gone", silenced the audience with her soft and beautiful, yet commanding voice.

Janine Charles-Farray, whose voice can be compared with icons such as Aretha Franklyn and Gladys Knight wowed all with her piece, "If My People."

The group then joined at the end to sing the popular tune, "We Shall Overcome" which they invited the audience to sing along to.

The second segment of Blues/Jazz began with a wonderful rendition of "Take the 'A' Train" by the Earl Carnavon and Friends Band. This musical group surely 'jazzed' up the atmosphere, giving the place an added sensual appeal.

After the musical introduction by the band, Rhona Mohon was the first singer to join them and sang a jazzy piece, "Paper Moon." Her next selection, which was more of the Blues variation was entitled, "Can't Help Loving That Man of Mine". Her soulful appeal was felt by all in the audience.

Germaine Wilson, who's voice can easily be compared with singers such as Billie Holiday and Mavis John, then gave a knockout performance with her raspy, yet sweet voice and her appropriate selections, the first of which was "The Summer Wind" followed by, "Fever" which was a definite crowd favorite.

There to cool down the fever was Janine Charles-Farray with, "They Can't Take That Away From Me," and "Cry Me a River" which was a heartrending piece that made sorrow run through the bones of all and moved some to tears.

Soul/Rap was the next segment, which further emphasized African musical diversification and the various African expressions evident in the world. Germaine Wilson sang two soulful pieces: "Groovin'" and "Respect", which was followed by a Rap selection with a bit of Reggae Dancehall by Keigan Forde, Dion Samm and Marcus Rowley.

Following the intermission was another dance selection by the North West Laventille Cultural Movement which was immediately followed by the segment, West Indian Folk Songs/Reggae. "Call Up Me Rosebud" by Rhona Mohon was the first selection, followed by "Linstead Market" by Germaine Wilson and Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" performed by Peter Biddeau.

A musical rendition, "From Tamboo Bamboo to Steeldrum" was performed by Kareem Brown & Avis Bruce and Company who provided an interesting sound with bamboo, drums, steelpans and other steel and wooden instruments. All the various musical sounds came together successfully to create a harmonious musical piece.

Next up and adding more fuel to the fire was the North West Laventille Cultural Movement who performed a fiery limbo exhibition.

The final segment was Calypso/Rapso/Soca which began with a Lavway Medley (extempo melody) by David Bereau.

Four-time reigning Calypso Monarch, the Mighty Duke was next, looking spruced-up as usual and sang hits, "Great Composers" and "Black is Beautiful."

Erphaan Alves, the youngest member of the cast, graced the stage with "Peace" and "Positive Lyrics." The "youth man" was very confident and had magnificent stage presence. He literally had the audience moving "…east, west, north and south" with his Soca vibe which set the audience further ablaze.

Karega Mandela came on stage next and provided a sweet taste of the Rapso sounds with songs, "Jah is Great" and "Never Surrender."

The show came to a close with the living legend Ella Andall. She began with chants in recognition of African gods and ancestors and proceeded with a tribute to the female energies in the song, "Black Woman" which was a truly uplifting performance. Sister Andall then called one of her backup singers, Gail, to the fore who sang a brief tribute to Andre Tanker.

Brother Resistance later answered Ella Andall's call to, "Ring de Bell" which was another crowd favourite. His performance was fantastic and added to the Rapso vibrations, which is another form of African musical expression.

Ella Andall ended the wonderful show with propitiation to the gods and ancestors.

It is certain that all who attended would agree that it was an incredible show. It is arguably the best production of the year thus far.

Pathways: A musical Journey in Pictures