Wednesday, 26 October 2016

GLORY DAYS: Iconic artefacts abound at the Peter Tosh Museum and the Miss Lou Archives

PHENOMENAL WOMAN: “There are over 100 boxes,” a young male librarian informs us, as we embark on a tour of the newly assembled Miss Lou Archives at the National Library of Jamaica. A fitting tribute to the late great Louise Bennett-Coverley, a cultural icon who gave us so much, including a renewed sense of pride in our native dialect, the collection is a treasure trove of all things Miss Lou, spanning never-before-seen photos, original folk song lyrics and poetry verses written by her own hand, to cite just a few of the artefacts you encounter. In the ‘50s, Miss Lou recorded a 12-track album of Jamaican folk songs for Folkways Records and that is included as well. We like the gorgeously shot pictures depicting a youthful Louise, all decked out in traditional Jamaican costume and staring back at us – with big smile and attitude – from a series of 70s and 80s images that still look fresh. Most intriguing of all: a copy of the marriage certificate that sealed the deal between her and the absolute love of her life, Mas Eric, when they wed at the St. Martin’s Church on May 13, 1954.

TRUE ORIGINAL: His world-famous M-16 guitar, eye-catching costumes and countless memorabilia spanning his short but stellar career are just some of the highlights at the recently launched Peter Tosh Museum, a long-in-the-making collaborative enterprise between the Peter Tosh Museum and the Kingsley Cooper-led Pulse Investments Limited, which has given the museum a home at its Trafalgar Road-based premises in New Kingston. For Tosh devotees like reggae historian Roger Steffens, the museum is a long-overdue piece of tangible recognition for the work of the Grammy-winning icon, rebel and avant-garde musician who was sadly cut down in his prime. “It’s a wonderful accomplishment,” Steffens says. “It’s really thrilling because for a long time, Peter was kind of an enemy of the state. The idea that [he] is now being given his due, with this wonderful museum, is something that, frankly, I never expected to see in Jamaica. It shows how things are evolving in Jamaica to a much better place.” PM Andrew Holness considers the museum a triumph with national significance. “I want to congratulate Kingsley and the Tosh family for doing this,” Holness says. “It may be your own persona; endeavour, but you have given something of immeasurable value to the country.”

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