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Obit: Olive Lewin, Jamaican music researcher 2013

Waddon Pete 15 Apr 13 - 12:48 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Apr 13 - 02:35 PM
Joe Offer 23 Apr 13 - 03:08 AM
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Subject: Obit Olive Lewin
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 15 Apr 13 - 12:48 PM

This came to my attention today. Sadly, another aficionado of folk music is no longer with us. RIP


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Subject: RE: Obit Olive Lewin
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Apr 13 - 02:35 PM

I have a booklet by her of Jamaican songs. Not only an aficionado but professionally knowledgeable.

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Subject: RE: 2013 Obit Olive Lewin, Jamaican music researcher
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Apr 13 - 03:08 AM

Here's the text from the link above:

Folk Icon Lost

Published: Thursday | April 11, 2013

Dr Olive Lewin, pioneering Jamaican music researcher and founder of the Jamaican Folk Singers in 1967, died last night at the University Hospital of the West Indies.

Lewin, who was 85 years old, had been experiencing respiratory problems.

She is survived by her daughter, Johanna.

Some of Lewin's research is captured in her several books, among them Rock it Come Over - The Folk Music of Jamaica and Some Jamaican Folk Songs. She has also done audiovisual recordings. She attended the Hayes Elementary School in Clarendon, Hampton School in St Elizabeth, the Royal Academy of Music in London, England, and Queen's University, Ireland.

In March 2012, as the Jamaican Folk Singers celebrated 45 years, The Gleaner reported Dr Lewin's presence and appreciation.

Christine McDonald-Nevers, musical director of the ensemble, said "Dr Olive Lewin has dedicated her life and talents to the preservation of Jamaica's music".

Lewin worked extensively with incarcerated persons.

In a 2007 interview with The Gleaner, she described herself as "... someone who has always really been involved in music and people, and especially people who are close to Jamaican roots".

See more in tomorrow's Gleaner.


...and from April 14:

Dr Olive Lewin, valuable visionary
published: Monday | April 14, 2008

Sacha Walters, Staff Reporter

Dr Olive Lewin doesn't like to get dressed up, nor does she like the camera. But, when she's performing and is lost in her music, none of that matters.

A pioneer in popularising folk music, she is most memorable, dressed in bandana outfits while performing with the Jamaica Folk Singers, which she founded over four decades ago.

The 81-year-old still has a sassy and lively personality, a spunk which reverberates in her ability to propel Jamaican culture and history, through song, all over the world.

Dr Lewin is one of five women nominated for First Global Bank /Flair's Woman of Vision Award, this year. The title will go to one of these women for their contribution to the development of Jamaica. Dr Lewin's contribution to documenting Jamaican history and culture in the form of song and publications are the main reasons for her nomination.

Eight books

She has published eight books, numerous articles, as well as video and audio recordings with the Jamaica Folk Singers, all too numerous to list.

A teacher, social anthropologist and musicologist, Lewin punctuates her sentences with song. Her stories are complete with dialogue, eyes aglow, when she recalls her days performing with the folk singers or the escapades in her 1959 Morris Oxford in search of new knowledge on the culture.

Gradually losing her memory, the tiny woman often has to turn to her partner in crime, her only child, daughter Johanna, for confirmation when telling a story. However, she needs no prompting to launch into song, something which, for as long as she can remember, she has loved to do.

LOVE OF Jonkunoo

"Ooh, because from a little tot at home, at Christmas there was Jonkunoo, and I just love to move," she said smiling and rocking her seated hips left to right perfectly coordinated with her hand movement.

"It was folk music and my parents were very generous. Because papa was considered to be very dignified, but if I said, 'Papa, I hear that there's going to be a revival meeting up in Corn Piece tonight.'

'Really? Now, my dear, what is it about?'

'I don't know Papa but they say it's a wash-foot ceremony and I want to see what a wash-foot ceremony is like'," she continued laughing, "and he would take me."

"Mamma didn't take me but she approved," she said.

She is not only an aficionado on folk music but she spans the gamut. In her own Gleaner column, 'Spotlight on Music with Olive Lewin', she explored the world of music. She was also radio host for 'Sunday Promenade' and 'Folk Music from around the World'.


Not short on humility, Dr Lewin simply wants to tell the story of her people, not just locally, but internationally.

"I remember when we went to Westminster Abbey, there was this beautiful coloured girl in the lane behind the church. She had braids down to here. She stood there watching us and she said, 'Good luck, you're signing for all of us'," Dr Lewin said, bursting into tears.

"You know a coloured girl in England feels that way and people in Jamaica don't. You know it hurts," she added after regaining her composure.

She emphasised the need to teach children their history through folk music, especially in the schools as it teaches people about themselves. She encourages The Gleaner to include such information to help further education.

One of her most memorable moments was meeting Dr Nelson Mandela in South Africa; his generosity, giving her free rein of his space, to read his books and letters as well was impressive. But the thing which stood out most was the fact that his assistant was a white South African woman. It struck her as highly selfless.

She is now gradually letting go of the world of performance. These days, she sits, superbly dressed in achievements, on the porch of her home at St Joseph's Hospital, transcribing songs. Forever she will exit, stage left, singing, "Jubilee, Jubilee, Queen Victoria gi wi free."

Facts on Dr Lewin

Birthplace: Vere, Clarendon, to Richard and Sylvia Lewin, both educators.

Musical instruments: Piano, violin (tutor).

Involvement: Music therapy at Bellevue Hospital for the mentally disturbed and music in correctional institutions. An honorary Maroon.

Books published: Messengers - Timeless truths from humblest hearts, Rock It Come Over - The Folk Music of Jamaica, Come Mek Me Hol Yu Han - The Impact of Tourism on Traditional Music (collection of papers presented), Dandy Shandy, Beeny Bud, Alle, alle, alle, Forty Folk Songs of Jamaica, Some Jamaican Folk Songs.

Early work: In 1947, she played the role of May in the play, Dragnet, on the London stage. She was the wife of an African-American man from the south who gets blinded during a scuffle with a white policeman in a 'whites only' bar.

Schools attended: Hayes Elementary School, Hampton School, Royal Academy of Music (London), Queens University, Belfast, Ireland.

Letters behind her name: OJ - Order of Jamaica, CD - Commander of the Order of Distinction, LRSM - Licentiate of the Royal School of Music, LRAM - Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music, LTCL - Licentiate of the Trinity College of Music, FTCL - Fellow Trinity College of Music, ARCM - Associate of the Royal College of Music.

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