Letter to the Editor, Amandala

Dear Editor:

After reading your article posted 19-Apr-2013 regarding the musical history of Belize, I felt it necessary to respond and share with you a snippet of the vibrant music environment that Belize has had dating back to the late 1800s.

I believe that it is way overdue that a comprehensive chronicle of Belize’s musical history be written. As a matter of fact, there are other aspects of our country where a detailed account of it should also be written for posterity.

While we may not want to go back and include the colonial era of music, for obvious reasons, it is still a part of our history. We need to tell the story from the beginning, to pay homage to the named and unnamed individuals upon whose shoulders today’s entertainers stand. I understand that it might be a difficult task to compile all the data simply, because time and the elements might have destroyed much of the information. But it is imperative that we leave no stone unturned when searching and to then paint a complete picture of the musical history of Belize.

There were the unheralded music teachers who taught their students how to read music and play instruments for a mere pittance, i.e., Rudolph Andrews, Amy Arnold, Brother Ben, Floss Casasola, Ina Craig, Helen Craig, Ms. Dewguard, Dolly Grant, Ms. Rocke, Roy Straughan, and Ethel Thompson.

Then there were the marching bands and orchestras like High Hatters, Deep Harmony, Treasury Harmony, Jr. Swingers, Melody Swingers, Home Guard, Police Band, Imperial Band, Colonial Band, LEC Band, ACB Band, CBA Band, and Urica Band, whose membership included the likes of Jesus “Chuchin” Acosta, Sr., Rudolph Andrews, Clive Austin, Dr. Ayuso, Roy Clarke, Lloyd Coffin, Maurice Coleman, Roy Coote, Anthony Gabb, Ivan Garcia, Hugh Goff, Stanley Goff, George “Pete” Matthews, Sr., Giffy Moss, Dr. Lennox Pike, Conrad Staine, Edison Staine, Roy Straughan, Guy Yorke, Sir. Colville Young, Horace Young, and an individual I only know as “Specka”.

In what some would describe as the glorious days when celebrating the 10th of September (pre-Independence), Belizeans marched to music written and performed by Abel Rudon and Byard Pinkney.

We would do ourselves, our children and our great country a disservice to not record its complete musical history. I would encourage anyone who has any information, whether oral or written, to safeguard it and, when the time is right, to share it with those who will be tasked to write the history of music in Belize.

Best regards,
K. Berry

P.S. The individuals listed above are only a sampling of those from Belize City and it does not intentionally omit musicians/music teachers in the rest of the country.