Mento, Jamaica’s first popular music, will be the focus of this year’s Grounation series under the theme: ‘Mento: Is ow de Music Sweet So’.
Grounation is the Jamaica Music Museum’s flagship education and cultural community outreach programme. It is also part of activities to commemorate Black History and Reggae Month in February.
The launch will be held on Saturday (February 4) at the Institute of Jamaica (IoJ) Lecture Hall, 10-16 East Street, downtown Kingston.
Activities are scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. and will feature a talk titled, ‘Mento and the Written Work’; and a video documentary titled, ‘Pimento and Hot Pepper – the Mento Story’ directed and produced by Rick Elgood and Bill Monsted, respectively.
Grounation will be held each Sunday in the month of February, beginning 2:00 p.m. on February 5 at the Institute’s Lecture Hall.
Director and Curator of the Jamaica Music Museum, Herbie Miller, told JIS News that the series will explore the history of Mento and how it evolved. Mento began during the country’s plantation period.
“Mento has been there long before our independence and so I think it is about time that we privilege Mento in the conversation about Jamaica’s music,” Mr. Miller said.
He noted that Grounation is not only for students of Jamaican music but for “everyone”.
“We would love to see those students and young scholars of cultural and Reggae studies and Edna Manley students, Alpha students and those students at the universities to come out for these programmes, so we are gearing it towards that crowd as well,” he added.
Mr. Miller said the first session will focus on the sub-theme: ‘Take Her to Jamaica (Where the Rum Come From): Mento and the Calypso Phenomenon in Tourism’. The presenter is ethnomusicologist, Dr. Daniel T. “Dan” Neely, who has written and researched Jamaican Mento music.
On February 12, discussions will focus on the topic, ‘Noisy Spring: Mento’s Sexual Innuendos, Double Entendre and Downright Slackness,’ which will be led by Sexologist, Dr. Karen Carpenter.
The following week, author and educator Colin Channer will lead discussions under the theme ‘Healing in the Balm Yard: Mento, Obeah and Other Jamaican Folk Forms and Culture’.
Other presenters are university lecturers, Dr. Matthew Smith and Dr. Clinton Hutton; legendary bandleader Carlos Malcolm; and journalist, Dionne Jackson-Miller.
Attendees will be treated to live Mento performances each week by the Jolly Boys, Blue Glaze Mento Band and Mento Madness Band.