Young musician to talk about Cayman’s oldest music icon

Although 77 years divide them,
24-year-old Natasha Kozaily probably knows more about Cayman’s centenarian
Julia Hydes than any other person on the planet.

The connection between the two is
their passion for music, and Ms Kozaily used that as a springboard when
choosing her university thesis An Island Story: Told Through the Music of Miss
Julia Hydes.

Miss Julia’s legacy

The 101-year-old singer, drummer
and composer of traditional Caymanian folk music – commonly known as Aunt Julia
– is one of the Cayman Islands’ most prolific musicians and still performs
occasionally when called on to do so.

Ms Kozaily, a talented musician in
her own right, will share her thesis findings on Thursday, 12 August at 7pm,
doors open at 6.30pm, at the Harquail Studio Theatre with Miss Julia as the
guest of honour.

The free event will no doubt mark
yet another milestone for Miss Julia, who is widely regarded as a national
treasure.  

Asked why she had chosen Miss Julia
as a subject, Ms Kozaily said she has always been interested in the study of
World Music.

“[While at Cardiff] University I
focused on ethnomusicology, the study of music in culture. As a young Caymanian
musician, I was curious about Caymanian folk music and culture… and that’s
where it all began.”

While working on her thesis, Ms
Kozaily interviewed Aunt Julia twice and used material from the Cayman National
Archives.

“I chose Miss Julia as a subject
because we need to know where we’re from to know where we’re going,” the young
musician said.

“Miss Julia is an iconic figure in
Caymanian traditional music and there is a lot we can learn from her about
ourselves and our culture,” she said. “Through her music, she tells the story
of the Cayman Islands and their people. I think it’s important for Cayman to
recognise, learn and cultivate this important music as it is fast
disappearing.” 

According to an excerpt from the
thesis, “The Caymanian folk music tradition which Julia is a part of is a genre
largely unstudied and mysterious due to a lack of interest and resources. More
research and study is needed on the folk music of the Cayman Islands as it is a
vast topic full of ripe opportunities for discovery. This project is the first
of its kind on Miss Julia Hydes and will aid in the preservation, communication
and cultivation of Caymanian folk music.”

Cited in the paper as “the only
female drummer in the history of Caymanian folk music”, Aunt Julia’s “role as a
tradition-bearer and musical icon is explored”.

The album Traditional Music of the
Cayman Island with Radley Gourzong and the Happy Boys and Aunt Julia Hydes is
available from the Cayman National Cultural Foundation at Harquail Theatre for
$20. 

Natasha Kozaily

A runner-up in last year’s World of
Music Awards, singer songwriter contest, 2009, Ms Kozaily also plays the piano
and flute, skills that have helped her enormously on the tracks she’ll be recording
in California this summer for her first album.

Ms Kozaily cites her musical
influences as diverse, ranging from “the Caribbean to the Middle East, creating
a very eclectic sound… My lyrics are mostly about love, the sea, changes,
inspiration and celebration”.

She recently graduated with a
Bachelor of Arts in Music from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New
York City.

CAYLIFEyoungSTORY

Aunt Julia, 101, is one of Cayman’s most prolific musicians.
Photo: File
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