Focus on Cayman folk hero

Julia Hydes is at centre of musician’s presentation

One of Cayman’s most promising
young musicians, Natasha Kozaily, as part of her requirements for obtaining a
Bachelor of Arts in Music from Cardiff University, recently gave an in-depth
presentation on the life and work of Caymanian musician and folk hero, Aunt
Julia Hydes.

The 12 August event, which was
attended by a wide cross-section of the Island’s community, including Aunt
Julia herself, was an opportunity for all those interested in Caymanian folk
music to learn about the origin of the genre, as well as the atmosphere that
surrounded the life and celebration of yesteryear.

The fact that Ms Kozaily is also a
musician meant that her presentation was executed from a perspective that
complimented the subject’s essence and allowed for the generation gap to be
bridged through her youthful interpretation, giving balance and symmetry to the
content.

“It was not uncommon for folk songs
to take on the role of a news report or narrative,” Ms Kozaily said, adding
that the most typical style of music back then was Kitchen Band Music, which
mainly took place in someone’s kitchen, where the whole town would gather for
music and dancing.

Aunt Julia Hydes is 101 years old,
and her story is rooted in the traditions of the Cayman Islands.

In the chapters of An Island’s
Story: Told through the music of Julia Hydes, Ms Kozaily looks at the history
of the Cayman Islands, its traditional music and the life of Miss Julia Hydes.
An analysis of Ms Hydes’ song Cardile Gone to Cuba is also compared to Samuel
Bagnall’s, A Starry Night for a Ramble.

Ms Kozaily ties together her thesis
by looking at how to gain insight into the life and culture of the Caymanian
people and Miss Julia Hydes through an interpretation of her song, Cardile Gone
to Cuba.

“In this thesis, through a
sensitive and thoughtful deconstructive approach, Natasha has done a terrific
job of exploding the upper-class myth that folk forms are valueless endeavours
culled together by poor, unthinking and unfeeling people. This is a beginning
and an effort that Cayman National Cultural Foundation hopes other Caymanian
students – especially those who receive government scholarships, should seek to
emulate,” said Cayman National Cultural Foundation Artistic Director Henry
Muttoo.

In relation to the experience she
had while undertaking this effort, Ms Kozaily said, “I felt extremely lucky to
have been able to spend time with Miss Julia and witness the Caymanian music.
As a young musician, I hope I can help in some way to carry on this tradition
before it fades away.”

The aspiring musician and scholar
performs at various locations around Grand Cayman.

Aunt Julia Hydes is still playing
her drum today and is considered to be one of Cayman’s treasures, with her
wealth of historical reference. Her recent CD with Radley Gourzong, called
Traditional Music of the Cayman Islands, is available at most souvenir stores
on Island.

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