Author Archives: Gavin Sharp

Louise Bennett known to people around the world as Miss Lou.

Miss Lou was a Jamaican singer, folklorist and activist for Jamaican dialect. Miss Lou’s infectious and charming  delivery of Jamaican folk songs  captured the imaginations of Jamaicans of all generations and led her to be a much loved part of Britain’s theatre and radio circuit.

Louise Bennett was born in Kingston,Jamaica in 1919, she laughingly stated that she was ‘born under the clock’ . In her schooldays it did not sit well with Miss Lou that in school she was only being taught well spoken English folk songs  rather than songs & stories using the Jamaican dialect known as patois.

Walking on the streets of Kingston & Spanish Town, where she grew up a young Louise would hear street tales sung in patois and it became her passion to change the Jamaican curriculum. Her contribution to Jamaica’s literacy campaign was significant, and then by her mid 20s she applied to RADA, the prestigious theatre school in London and became the first black student to study there.

3 months in to being enrolled at RADA, British audiences were introduced to this truly unique talent as she was given her own BBC radio show Caribbean Carnival. She was awarded an MBE in 1960.

It has to be said that Miss Lou was Jamaica’s first real international star. Her comic delivery of telling Caribbean tales and her sensational delivery of  interpreting classic folk songs such as Linstead Market, Yellow Bird and Long time Gal in a mesmerising comic  sing song fashion had a remarkable impact on Jamaican singers and poets that had grown up learning her poetry in schools and hearing her on record and on the radio.

Miss Lou was a main stay on Jamaican radio, with the Lou and Ronnie show and Miss Lou’s views. What a raconteur, sharing the trials, tribulations and good times of the Jamaican people in a dialect that was not bowing to the Eurocentric view of language. She instilled a pride in Caribbean artists that gave them an understanding that patois was a language in its own right.

Edward II’s re-version of Miss Lou’s classic songs continues a tradition that Miss Lou spent her life campaigning for. A pride in Jamaican heritage, and moving the Jamaican art form onwards. Edward II do this here with boutique collection of songs.

Long Time Gal featured in this collection was often the opener for Miss Lou’s live shows where she would encourage the audience to sing along with her and take pride and understanding in the sentiment of the song. Miss Lou  greatest gift was to  recite breathaking snapshots of Jamaica’s social complexity and Edward’s inclusion of the song Cordelia Brown telling the story of young bi-racial girl with red hair informs us of the versatilty of Miss Lou’s works

Edward II. New Music Release.

Available to Listen or download

SPOTIFY  and APPLE

To support our live performance on the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards on 16/10/19, where we opened the show with new single ‘Linstead Market’.

The song is a traditional Jamaican folk song gathered from the collection ‘Jamaican Song and Story’ by Walter Jekyll (1907) This release pre-empts the bands new album release (mid 2020) that presents a collection of Jamaican working songs in new light.

From early deals with Cooking Vinyl, Pure Bliss and Zomba Records the band is known with their extensive touring schedule in the 80’s and 90’s which saw them headline festivals around the world.

Mark Radcliffe hosts the 2019 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards – the annual ceremony (celebrating its 20th year this year) that celebrates and rewards the very best in folk, roots and acoustic music. The show will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 2.