by Howard Campbell
[SOUTH FLORIDA] – In the Jamaica Steve Higgins grew up, the country’s culture was taught in schools and students were fed a steady diet of national folklore and music.
A lot has changed since the 1970s and 1980s. Especially with cable television from North America transforming the way Jamaican youth view life. Higgins, sopranos Dahlia Wynter and April Marr, and dancer/choreographer Amaya Lewis, are looking to change that with their Jamaica 60 Tour of the United States.
Love & Nostalgia Tour
The series of 22 workshops and shows were launched April 18 at Robbin’s Lodge in Davie. The first workshops and show took place April 20-22 in Houston.
Dubbed Love & Nostalgia Tour, it is endorsed by the Jamaican government with the patron being Oliver Mair, Consul General to Miami.
Jamaica 60 is mainly geared at descendants of Jamaican immigrants in the United States.
“This tour is to pass on our folk music to a carefully selected target of second and third generation Jamaican children in the Diaspora…also educational and cultural institutions as well as community organizations in our Legacy program,” Higgins said.
Jamaica 60 Cultural Tour
The tour commemorates Jamaica’s 60th year of independence from Britain. Higgins and his team have staged similar shows for several years but their project was put on hold because of Covid-19.
Jamaica 60’s roster includes background lessons on popular folk songs like Dis Long Time Gal and Manuel Road.
The series is special to Higgins who was born in 1962, the year Jamaica got independence. He grew up in Morant Bay, St. Thomas, a rural parish that was the site of a rebellion by black workers against the British government in 1865.
For years, he was a member of the Jamaican Folk Singers, a leading cultural group. Now based in South Florida, he heads the South Florida Caribbean Chorale.
Although he has lived abroad for many years, Higgins retains a passion for his homeland and its colorful culture.
“The most fascinating thing about Jamaica is the amazing spirit of the Jamaican people. We actually think we can conquer or be the best at anything in this God- given world! Once you travel the outside world and people learn that you are Jamaican, the reception, respect and adulation you receive is truly fascinating,” he said.