Voices of Caymanian culture

Take Cayman’s rich heritage, add a variety of voices and a lot of passion, and you’ve got the Cayman Islands Folk Singers.

In addition to portraying local heritage through song, the group also captures the essence of Cayman’s culture in their popular performances and provides an interesting perspective on history in a fun and creative way.

It has inspired many to get involved. Among them is Alta Solomon. “It’s really nice to share my culture and heritage,” says Solomon, who acknowledges “it can be a little scary” to get on stage and perform. “But when I’m singing with the choir … I feel more confident. It has impacted me not only as a performer, but as a singer as well, to sing songs from my forefathers. And my kids are learning some of the songs as well.”

The choir, which numbers at times between 15 and 30 members, was started a little more than a year ago by the Cayman National Cultural Foundation to pay tribute to the Islands’ folk history and culture. They sing many traditional songs from the Caribbean region, including Trinidad, Jamaica and Belize.

Some of the favourites include Johnny Cake by Nasaria Suckoo-Chollette (Cayman); Yellah Yam (Jamaica); Rice and Beans (Belize); I Want My Money by Aunt Julia Hydes (Cayman); Southeast by South by Burnel Dixon (Cayman); and Come Back Home by Steve and Mike Mc Taggart (Cayman).

They will soon add songs from St. Lucia and Guyana and will consider local folk songs that people may submit for consideration.

One of the members, Wardley Connolly, a funeral director, realised his talent for singing 14 years ago when “a lady asked me if I could sing a song for her grandfather who had died. I didn’t think I could, but I did,” he says.

“Whenever we do a concert, I would like to see people come out and support our heritage,” says Connolly.

Guitarist and singer Gordon Solomon has been involved in music for many years, starting out rapping, and now folk music. In fact, he recently wrote a song called Christmas Breeze, which the group will add to its repertoire.

“Our heritage is very important and …we want young Caymanians to come through. We really need Caymanians to get involved,” says Solomon.

Interested in auditioning?

Anyone interested in auditioning – and the group particularly needs more male voices – should contact Lorna Bush at the Cayman National Cultural Foundation on 949-5477 or [email protected]

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