Categorized | Features, General

A book ‘Our Old-fashioned Island’: The Alliouagana Singers Reflect.

Mike Jarvisby Mike Jarvis

Once you get beyond the textbook appearance of the cover and the rather academic tone of the first two chapters, ‘Our Old- fashioned Island’ fully comes into its own as a must-have for every Montserratian household – local and diaspora, for every Montserratian adult and youth, every adopted Montserratian, and as a gift for every friend of Montserrat.

Christmas is on the way. It’s an ideal present.

The book is actually titled ‘Our Old- fashioned Island’: The Alliouagana Singers Reflect. And reflect they do; bringing to life reminisces of the choral group’s members volcano experiences, or to use the book’s oft-repeated local dialect re-phrasing and adaptation of that word; ‘memba’, as in ” you memba when…?”

The shared on- and off-island experiences through individual recollections also tell the story of the coming together of this choral collective, itself an important chapter in Montserrat’s volcano narrative.

Our Old-fashioned Island: The Alliouagana Singers Reflect tells these individual and group stories in the most captivating and attention-holding way through first-hand accounts.

The names of the contributors, the people, places and events they chronicle, plus the artwork and pictograms of the/their children make the memories even more vivid and profound. The extensive and voluminous tributes at the end and beginning of the book, a prologue and epilogue of sorts, add more credence, validity, and certainly weight (literally and literarily) to the cultural and historical document the book has turned out to be, whether or not that was the original intention.

But who are the Alliouagana Singers and why a book? And not just an ordinary commemorative booklet but a full-sized book titled Our Old- fashioned Island’: The Alliouagana Singers Reflect.Old Fashioned book

Therein I would dare to suggest, lies another chapter of Montserrat’s volcano story.

The choral group came together in England as a result of the eruption of the Soufriere Hills volcano. And within that is a most touching story. Read about it in the book.

Would this group been formed in Montserrat? That’s hardly likely. There’s already the well-established Emerald Community Singers in which some members were already involved. How about forming it in London where there’s already the world-famous and celebrated Montserratian-led London Community Gospel Choir? Well, the LGCC formed and led by Rev. Bazil Meade of Montserrat is in a class by itself and its international multicultural membership doesn’t share a similar experience to that of the Alliouagana Singers. But, the mass eruption-induced migration to the UK from Montserrat created a cultural and social void in new, and for some, strange surroundings, that needed to be filled. England can be a lonely and detached place. So there was, and is, a social need for the Alliouagana Singers.

And they have fulfilled their dual role admirably. The group is in-demand performers for cultural, religious and business engagements across London, elsewhere in the UK and abroad, Montserrat included. (LGCC watch out?) And that accolade is not restricted to the singers, some quite well-known Montserrat names are among them; but also the musicians, some of whom are equally in-demand as studio session musicians and who tour with some of the top British stars.

So get the book as a Montserrat keepsake; as a record of first-person, first-hand accounts documenting personal and community experiences of the impact of the eruption of the volcano; get it as a point of reference; but most importantly get it as a biography of a choral group that has been entrusted with an unwritten mandate of maintaining community cohesion and which has risen to the challenge with extraordinary zeal and musical creativity. One omission from this otherwise laudable effort is the absence of music. A CD insertion would have given the book some added value. We await a release date.

Until then catch them live in London or visit their Facebook page for a few snippets from a recording session at Sean Cassell’s Rasta Camp Studios in London. For now though get the book. Our Old- fashioned Island’: The Alliouagana Singers Reflect is published by KAD publishing. www.publications.co.uk

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Mike Jarvisby Mike Jarvis

Once you get beyond the textbook appearance of the cover and the rather academic tone of the first two chapters, ‘Our Old- fashioned Island’ fully comes into its own as a must-have for every Montserratian household – local and diaspora, for every Montserratian adult and youth, every adopted Montserratian, and as a gift for every friend of Montserrat.

Christmas is on the way. It’s an ideal present.

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The book is actually titled ‘Our Old- fashioned Island’: The Alliouagana Singers Reflect. And reflect they do; bringing to life reminisces of the choral group’s members volcano experiences, or to use the book’s oft-repeated local dialect re-phrasing and adaptation of that word; ‘memba’, as in ” you memba when…?”

The shared on- and off-island experiences through individual recollections also tell the story of the coming together of this choral collective, itself an important chapter in Montserrat’s volcano narrative.

Our Old-fashioned Island: The Alliouagana Singers Reflect tells these individual and group stories in the most captivating and attention-holding way through first-hand accounts.

The names of the contributors, the people, places and events they chronicle, plus the artwork and pictograms of the/their children make the memories even more vivid and profound. The extensive and voluminous tributes at the end and beginning of the book, a prologue and epilogue of sorts, add more credence, validity, and certainly weight (literally and literarily) to the cultural and historical document the book has turned out to be, whether or not that was the original intention.

But who are the Alliouagana Singers and why a book? And not just an ordinary commemorative booklet but a full-sized book titled Our Old- fashioned Island’: The Alliouagana Singers Reflect.Old Fashioned book

Therein I would dare to suggest, lies another chapter of Montserrat’s volcano story.

The choral group came together in England as a result of the eruption of the Soufriere Hills volcano. And within that is a most touching story. Read about it in the book.

Would this group been formed in Montserrat? That’s hardly likely. There’s already the well-established Emerald Community Singers in which some members were already involved. How about forming it in London where there’s already the world-famous and celebrated Montserratian-led London Community Gospel Choir? Well, the LGCC formed and led by Rev. Bazil Meade of Montserrat is in a class by itself and its international multicultural membership doesn’t share a similar experience to that of the Alliouagana Singers. But, the mass eruption-induced migration to the UK from Montserrat created a cultural and social void in new, and for some, strange surroundings, that needed to be filled. England can be a lonely and detached place. So there was, and is, a social need for the Alliouagana Singers.

And they have fulfilled their dual role admirably. The group is in-demand performers for cultural, religious and business engagements across London, elsewhere in the UK and abroad, Montserrat included. (LGCC watch out?) And that accolade is not restricted to the singers, some quite well-known Montserrat names are among them; but also the musicians, some of whom are equally in-demand as studio session musicians and who tour with some of the top British stars.

So get the book as a Montserrat keepsake; as a record of first-person, first-hand accounts documenting personal and community experiences of the impact of the eruption of the volcano; get it as a point of reference; but most importantly get it as a biography of a choral group that has been entrusted with an unwritten mandate of maintaining community cohesion and which has risen to the challenge with extraordinary zeal and musical creativity. One omission from this otherwise laudable effort is the absence of music. A CD insertion would have given the book some added value. We await a release date.

Until then catch them live in London or visit their Facebook page for a few snippets from a recording session at Sean Cassell’s Rasta Camp Studios in London. For now though get the book. Our Old- fashioned Island’: The Alliouagana Singers Reflect is published by KAD publishing. www.publications.co.uk