Friday, 4 October 2019

MEMORY LANE: Jamaican Folk Singers delight and educate concertgoers at 2019 concert season

VINTAGE FLAVOUR: No other group does 'ole time sinting' quite like the celebrated choir.

YOU always learn something new while taking in the annual concert season put on by the Jamaican Folk Singers, led by the indefatigable Christine McDonald-Nevers, who this year arranged a transporting, nostalgic suite of songs that speaks to Jamaica then and now and the timeless appeal of our folk-music repertoire.

Dubbed “Remembering,” the 20-voice choir’s 2019 concert season recently took centrestage at the Little Theatre.

Costumed in bandana outfits (the six men completing their look with black and khaki pants), the singers opened the show with a mid-tempo medley, including “Down the Valley,” “Lizzie Jane,” “Under the Coconut Tree” and “Rocky Road” among other numbers.

Apt choreography, with creatively executed formations, not to mention a mild sense of playfulness, always add a welcome dimension to their annual recital, and this year was no exception.

They segued nicely into a series of patriotic songs, imploring audience members to “know your country.” The island love was palpable as they gave renditions of “Rio Grande,” “Bedward” and “Manuel Road,” before switching up the mood for the Moran Bay lament ‘War Dung Ah Monkland,” accented with a vivid red backdrop. Then, their take on “Run Moses Run” was as delightful as it was dramatic.

The show’s second half was no less engaging. It opened with a community theatre-type setting, with songs exploring everything from marital strife and envy to neighbourhood suss and incompetent young housewives. The highlights: “Faunie,” “Before Mi Married” and the no-nonsense gem “Yuh Tell Ah Lie Pon Me.”

Pure white costumes and headwraps signalled their “Revival” segment and the show’s finale. Spirited singing and musical accompaniment gave life to such numbers as “On That Great Day” and “Journeyman Jesus,” which made way for “Hard Road to Travel,” “By the Rivers of Babylon,” “Ride the Chariot” and “Never Walk Alone.”

Hugely enjoyable – entertainment and Jamaican Heritage education in a tuneful mix – the season was another solid success.

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