Aunt Julia and Radley Gourzong’s traditional music

Traditional music of the Cayman
Islands has been a hallmark for many of the Island’s indigenous people for
centuries.

 The art form, which served as a source of comfort
for many during yesteryear, is making a move into a more mainstream market and
format.

A new album featuring the tunes of
Radley Gourzong and the Happy Boys, as well as Aunt Julia Hydes, is at the
forefront of this resurgence, serving as inspiration for local bands such as
the North Side Kitchen Band and Swanky.

 The sound of the arrangements in many of these
old-time tunes is centred around the fiddle and drum, with accents added using
tambourines, scrubbing tubs, bottles and other implements.

Both Mr. Gourzong and Ms Hydes were
born shortly after the turn of the century and this has given the delivery of
their music a sincere quality that legitimises each note heard on the CD.

In fact, Aunt Julia Hydes is the
only surviving member of the traditional Caymanian music fraternity that
included giants in the art form of kitchen music, such as Leighton “Duxie”
Ebanks, Boyd Hydes, Radley Gourzong, Cleveland Ebanks, Montgomery Albert and
Reid Green.

At 101 Aunt Julia still continues
to beat her drum and sing at special events.

During his life time, Mr. Gourzong
performed for many dignitaries and royalty including Her Majesty Queen
Elizabeth II; Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Alexandria.

With the music on this album both
personas have been combined into a singular offering that offers the best of
both worlds.    

Listeners will surely enjoy how the
pieces conjure up images of the past and helps one get a feel for the way
Caymanians celebrated in times gone by.

There is an innocence that beckons
you in these recordings that is warm and comforting – a feeling of pride and
security in one’s identity as a Caymanian.

Those who have the privilege of
enjoying the double-disk will no doubt understand where we are coming from and
how where we are going may be so worrying at times.

The world Aunt Julia and Mr.
Gourzong lived in moved at a different pace and people had peace of mind more
than anything else. That is evident in this music.

One can not only hear this but also
feel it from the ecstasy the musicians have created with the bare basics
required for music making.  

  As a
collector’s item this album, which was put together by the Ministry of Health,
Environment, Youth, Sport and Culture and the Cayman National Cultural
Foundation, is a must have for all ages.

It is one that will certainly serve
as reference for the essence of truly being Caymanian, as well as a snapshot
into the past for future generations.

FEATAuntJuliaradleySTORY

Radley Gourzong and Aunt Julia Hydes.
Photo: Stuart Wilson
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