On this day in Caribbean history, September 28, 1927, Dr. Olive Lewin was born. Over a career Lewin was involved in researching, arranging and directing Jamaican traditional music for schools, church and theatre performances by the Jamaican Folk Singers and other groups.

Olive Lewin was born in Clarendon, Jamaica. She studied music and ethnomusicology in the United Kingdom. She became a Fellow of Trinity College, London, and an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal School of Music. She also held the position of Director of Arts and Culture at the office of the Prime Minister of Jamaica as well as that of Director of the Jamaica Institute of Folk Culture. 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.From 1983 she directed the Jamaica Orchestra for Youth.

Lewin was the author of several books and has made numerous recordings of folk music, performed by the Jamaican Folk Singers, a group in which she founded. She has been honoured by the Government of Jamaica, the United Nations, the Organization of American States, the Government of France and by academia for her outstanding lifelong contribution to the arts. In 2001 she was awarded the Jamaican Order of Distinction, the sixth in order of precedence of the Orders of Societies of Honor. and in In 1987 she was awarded the Musgrave Gold Medal by the Institute of Jamaica.

From 1966 to 1980, Lewin was responsible for music in correctional institutions and music therapy at the Bellevue Hospital.

So of her works include: 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.

 

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