Aunt Julia turns 102

Folk singer and Caymanian icon Aunt Julia Hydes celebrated her 102nd birthday at the Harquail Theatre on 25 January along with scores of friends, family and well-wishers.

The musician is revered for her unique drumming style, which has been the subject of scholarly discussion and analysis, most recently via a thesis by artist and musician Natasha Kozaily.

As well as contributing nearly nine decades of music and entertaining audiences form near and far, Aunt Julia has been active in the work that is being done to preserve the Cayman Islands’ culture, as witnessed by the recent release of, Traditional Music of the Cayman Islands, a collection of songs written and composed by herself and her life-long musical partner, the late Radley Gourzong.

The evening of Aunt Julia Hydes’ birthday celebrations was tied in with a gospel theme, as she is a strong believer in Christianity. The birthday party and celebration on were dubbed as the Second Annual Julia Hydes Gospel Fest.

Featured on the night were numerous performances that included Pastor Alson Ebanks, Ms Kozaily, Rebecca Jefferson, John Jefferson Jr, John Jefferson Senior, Blake Hurlston, Rivington Powery and the Barnett Family Musicians, among others.

A special performance was also given by the matriarch of Caymanian folk music herself.

Along with cake being served at intermission and a birthday song sung by all on hand, chants of resounding spiritual fortitude, as well as humility toward the gift of grace revealed in the gospel, made the evening a special event of sights and sounds.

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Aunt Julia Hydes and her sons Lowie Hydes, left, and Edroy Hydes at the celebration.
PHOTO: STUART WILSON

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