JYC salutes Black Lives Matter

Music

JYC salutes Black Lives Matter

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, June 28, 2020

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Jamaica Youth Chorale has added its voice to the global outcry against injustice meted out to people of African descent across the world.

The popular local choir has put visuals to their original work Bound and has released a moving video to support the current movement worldwide.

Musical director of the choir Gregory Simms told the Jamaica Observer that the song, composed by choir member Hanif Lawrence has been part of their repertoire for some time.

Bound just became more relevant at this time given the times. With Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality against blacks in the United States, the death of George Floyd, and just the outcry against injustice, we just saw it as an ideal time to bring this song to wider attention. Whenever we perform Bound it has been met with a very strong reaction and we don't expect anything different,” he told the Jamaica Observer.

“The JYC has always had a penchant and a strong leaning to the stories of Africa, and stories from our enslaved history. Our very first concert was titled Ancestor Voices in which we examined the Negro spirituals and other African retentions. The idea has always been to expose our young composers and arrangers to this area of our music and culture. Hanif Lawrence came out of that process,” Simms added

The work draws on the words of Jamaican writers Dennis Scott and Claude McKay and the lyrics revolve around the theme ' Was he not a man and a brother?'. It is set to drumming associated with the Afro-Jamaican rite Kumina, with mezzo-soprano Danielle Brown on lead vocals. The video was edited by JYC member Jhenelle Lewis.

“Since we released the video on our social media platforms as well as through our mailing list the response has been phenomenal. This is the greatest we have had on our Instagram page. We are over 2000 likes so far. Having participated in the World Choir Olympics we have choir friends all over the world and the response from Africa and Europe has been really great with persons saluting the lyrics as well as the musicality of the piece. We also hope it opens doors to discussions here in Jamaica as local heroes Sam Sharpe, Paul Bogle, and Marcus Garvey are also strong influences on the work,” said Simms.

The release of the video for Bound has also given the choir some amount of visibility, as it was forced to cancel its annual performance season earlier this year due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.


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