Ambataila Women: Remembering Our Women

Amadi Musicale
Amadi Musicale Reporters
Event Date: July 21, 2007

Amadi Productions held its third annual concert titled "Ambataila Women" at La Joya on Saturday 21th July, to remember and honour women who made a mark in culture. This concert, which formed part of the Emancipation 2007 celebrations, was creatively based around the cultural contribution of the ten women being honoured: Marjorie Padmore, Olive Walke, Kathleen 'Aunty Kay' Warner, Olga Comma-Maynard, Cheryl Byron, Winifred Atwell, Daisy Voisin, Jean Coggins-Simmons, Beryl Mc Burnie and Beulah "Lady B" Bobb. According to a release from Amadi Productions, these women strived and overcame all odds when others regarded them as mere house women. This production made the point that these icons are beacons who have led the way despite the challenges that they may have faced.

The show kicked off with a Folk Music segment in remembrance of Marjorie Padmore and Olive Walke. Marjorie Padmore was a musician, teacher and composer who composed the national song "God Bless Our Nation", while Olive Walke was an accomplished musician, composer, folk singer and folklorist who researched the folk music of Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean. The newly formed Amadi Musicale treated the audience to three Caribbean folk songs: "Mi Boulli", "Boykin" and "Medley", with the joyful tones of "Mi Boulli" contrasting with the lamenting for a departed Boykin.

The Children's segment was done in remembrance of Kathleen 'Aunty Kay' Warner who was a medical student, pianist, singer, actress, dancer and teacher but who is perhaps best known as the host of the popular radio programme, Aunty Kay's Children Hour. This segment featured Chinaka Pierre singing "Reach", Elijah Wilson performing the popular local gospel song "To the Ceiling" and Regina Noreiga doing a tap dance.

The Oral Tradition segment was done in remembrance of Olga Comma-Maynard and Cheryl Byron. Cheryl Byron is a pioneer of the Rapso genre who also published poetry, acted and was an accomplished dancer, while Olga Comma Maynard was a distinguished poet and storyteller who focused on nature and the cultural mores of Trinidad and Tobago. Denise Charles of Amadi Musicale performed Byron's "Hosanna Dey", which told of a Catholic woman who went to an Orisha festival and 'caught the power'. Alison Brewster also recited a poem written by Olga Comma-Maynard titled "The Sandbox Tree".

The Ivory and Steel segment featured one item titled "The Devil's Daughter" by Earl Canovon, Kareem Brown and Friends, in honour of Winifred Atwell. Winifred Atwell was an accomplished pianist, whose concerts drew standing-room only crowds around the world.

After the intermission, Amadi Musicale demonstrated their versatility by performing several Parang songs in honour of Daisy Voisin. Hailed as the undisputed "Queen of Parang" for her vocal process and the triumphs and popularity of the band she led, the La Divina Pastora Serenaders, Daisy Voisin left an indelible mark on the local Parang scene in Trinidad and Tobago. Amadi Musicale did her legacy justice with the lively renditions of "Nosotros Tenemos", "Alegria" and "El Nacimeniento".

The Dance segment featured the dancers of the North West Laventille Cultural Movement who ignited the stage with colourful clothes and swirling dance moves. They exhibited different dance styles including Bele, Pique and Calypso. This segment was in honour of Jean Coggins-Simmons, Cherl Byron and Beryl Mc Burnie. Jean Coggins-Simmons was a founding member of the National Dance Association of Trinidad and Tobago and represented Trinidad and Tobago in Nigeria, Barbados, Canada and Cuba. She has been awarded for her contribution to the preservation and development of folk dance. Beryl Mc Burnie, another prominent figure of the dance arena, was an accomplished choreographer, dance teacher and folklorist who is remembered for pioneering the preservation and appreciation of local art forms.

The Calypso segment honoured the life of Beulah "Lady B" Bobb, the Tobagonian Calypsonian, who was a founding member of the United Sisters and the Kaisoca Touring Team. Among her best remembered pieces are "Fight Back", "Adda Adda Ring Bang" and "Whoa Donkey". In her memory, the versatile and talented Janine Charles-Farray sang "Dollar Waste", while Germaine Wilson gave an energetic performance of "Pharaoh" and "Fire Brigade" to the appreciation of the audience.

The show climaxed with a splendid rendition of "Ambataila Woman" by the Amadi Musicale, drawing the approval and rapturous applause from the audience. The various elements of the concert woven into each other demonstrate the rich cultural legacy of the women honoured. The biographies of all the women, that were distributed along with the programme, was a good step in ensuring that there is more awareness of the women who have contributed in diverse ways to the cultural landscape of Trinidad and Tobago.

Ambataila Women Concert in pictures:

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