Mosaic of events highlights Muzaic

Get set for a showcase of some of the island’s best talent when the Cayman Music and Entertainment Association’s annual Muzaic celebration takes place at various venues on the long holiday weekend of 1-4 July.

In keeping with the high standard of recipients of past Icon Awards, this year’s honouree is the late Melano McCoy, founder of the Cayman National Choir, among other achievements.

All awards, along with the Icon Award, will be presented at the Muzaic Awards Ceremony on the night of 3 July. The CMEA Executive Committee will cast an official vote as to who among those nominated will be awarded.

Categories include the Long Service Award; Commercial DJ of the Year Award; the International Success Award; the Album of the Year; the Jazzy B Award for Radio DJ; and the Song of the Year.

Children’s awards are: Best Vocalist; Best in Brass; Best in Percussion; Best in Woodwind; Best in String; and Keyboardist of the Year.

“This year we are going to have a robust Muzaic, as the festival grows each year and things are added and tweaked with vision of improving each time,” said CMEA President Jean-Eric Smith.

Who was Mr. Mel?

Exford Melano McCoy, better known as “Mel”, was born in Old May Bay, Grand Cayman in August 1919. As a young man

he contributed to his share of family obligations, tending to livestock, farming, fishing and household chores. But unlike his brothers, the life of a seaman was not attractive to him. Instead he read countless books and the Bible. Although the church and North Side School were limited in preparing him for higher learning, both entities helped in a major way to build Mr. Mel’s character. He sat his third year Jamaica Local Exams in George Town and received his teaching certificate from Mona College in Jamaica through overseas correspondence. He later went to Jamaica to further his studies. It was there that he found his passion for music.

It was evident from an early age that academics and music were where Mel’s tremendous talents lay. He taught himself to play the organ and to read music. In fact, his childhood goal was to be a musical missionary in servitude to God. Mr. Mel pursued that goal and touched many lives though both his music and his faith. In 1953 he moved to Canada and began to impact the lives of many there through music. After having received his Canadian teaching degree from Lake Shore Teachers College, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Waterloo and a master’s degree in education and administration from Queens University.

It was in Bowmanville, Ontario, in the late 1960s that a man from a tiny island in the almost unknown Western Caribbean founded the 80 member Excelsior Choir. The choir performed at various venues for many years and Mr. McCoy’s Christmas Concerts were revered as one of the premier events of the community’s yearly calendar. He had the honour in the early 1970s to be invited as the guest conductor for the Toronto Symphony Choir.

He returned home to Grand Cayman in 1973, and one of his first undertakings was to establish the Cayman National Choir, which is still in 
existence today. He then returned to teaching and became assistant principal of the Cayman Islands High School for Music and Guidance, and then head of the Teacher’s Training Centre in 1975.

Featured talent

On Friday, the festival’s first night – referred to as the Live Musicians Showcase – bands and performers will take to the beach at Calico Jack’s. Talent includes Bluwater, Hi Tide, Back Beat. Bona Fide, Lammy, the Regeneration Band, Local Motion, Roots Connection, Thanks and Praises, Sucker Box and Heat.

Saturday, July 2 will see the youth host their Young Musicians Showcase at the Harquail Theatre from 2-5pm, featuring music from the most promising young talent on Island.

Young performers are:

Jaide Powell – Solo Artist

Marissa Towell – Piano

Joshua Mitchell – Piano

After Skool – Band

Musicians.ky – Musical Drama

Dru Alexander Bodden – Solo Artist

The DJ showcase, which will follow the children’s concert and awards on Saturday, will feature six of Cayman’s top DJs, “all of whom are CMEA members,” noted the president, who added that the awards ceremony on Sunday promises to be an evening of appreciation for the work that has been done by some of the most notable musicians in the local fraternity.

There will also be gate prizes for tickets purchased during what has become the marquee annual CMEA fundraiser.

Admission to all events is free for CMEA members.

A musical resurgence:

“For too long in the Cayman Islands music has been ostracised/kept out of the local cultural bag. This is our opportunity to showcase the best of local music, thereby reestablishing music within the local cultural offerings. It is also an opportunity to honour our peers who contributed so much in the face of great adversity and thereby contribute to the growth of music,” said Mr. Smith. He urged all in Cayman to come out and socialise together.

“Music can erase boundaries and barriers at a time when more national unity is needed. Hopefully Muzaic can help to get us to that destination.”

Sponsors for this year’s Muzaic include Fast Signs, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education, the Department of Tourism, the Caymanian Compass, Hopscotch Studios, Lions Productions, Heinken, Appleton and Cayman Airways.

“It’s the time that we honour our peers in music and show some appreciation for their hard work in establishing and maintaining the forward push while building on the foundation of the past,” said Mr. Smith.

He explained a little about how each sponsor was working to make this year’s Muzaic the best so far:

“The Ministry of Tourism are sponsoring the Premier’s Award, while the Ministry of Culture is the CMEA’s parent ministry and have an interest from that standpoint. The Ministry of Education has come on board because each year we honour a teacher who has contributed greatly to our musical community.”

Smith said it is envisioned that the Muzaic Festival will be another pull for tourism, as 4 July is a great time for people from the United States to vacation, since it is a long holiday weekend there. This was traditionally the weekend for Taste of Cayman, which has now moved, hence the involvement of the Department of Tourism. The Caymanian Compass is on board to assist with promotional purposes, print media and online sales of tickets, while Fast Signs is doing all the flyers, banners and tickets.

“We are hoping to get sponsors to be a part of the Muzaic annually and want to build relationships that will ultimately be able to help members of the Association in their career’s endeavours,” said Mr. Smith.

All radio stations on Island are also contributing.

Tickets cost $10 for an individual event or $25 for all events in Cayman and Cayman Brac. All CMEA members may attend for free. The Association is also inviting those who have not yet renewed their membership for this year to please contact CMEA for forms to be sent to the attention of the secretary, Ralph Lewis, at cmeaexec.com

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