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Jamaican folk group land prestigious gig

JOINING FORCES: Mento B and The Jamaica Folk Ensemble performing recently

A COMMUNITY singing group from Manchester have taken the step to launch themselves into the spotlight, beginning with a gig at the renowned Bridgewater Hall.

Formed by the Jamaica Society Manchester in the 1980s, the Jamaica Folk Ensemble aims to promote and maintain the cultural heritage of the African Caribbean community, Jamaica in particular.

One of six group members, Joan Johnson, said: “We are keen to ensure that the rich Jamaican legacy brought by our Windrush Generation to the UK is maintained and transferred to the younger generation in order to give them a sense of identity and cultural belonging.”

A performance at the Windrush Anniversary Celebration in Manchester last year was the start of a new era for the group, who now want to appeal to wider audiences and perform professionally.

On Thursday (May 9) they appeared at Manchester’s international concert venue, The Bridgewater Hall, alongside long-standing calypso band, Mento B, who played upbeat and humorous music, including mento, calypso and reggae.

“We want to further our professionalism and get booked for more gigs by streamlining and developing excellence in our performance,” added Johnson.

“This is a great opportunity to reach more diverse audiences and we are all excited about it. Performing with Mento B is really good because they are accustomed to doing professional gigs.

They have a lot more experience of this type of stage work and we often link up with them.”

TRADITIONAL

The performance by Mento B and The Jamaica Folk Ensemble begins at 12.45pm and is part of a series called A Little Bite Music. These are free, unticketed performances held in the stalls foyer between May and September.

The series presents a diverse range of classical, contemporary and world music, with an emphasis on emerging artists of all ages from in and around Manchester.

“We are keen to branch out, but our focus is still on the community,” said Johnson.

“We will continue to perform at festivals and work with schools to get children involved, which ties in with the traditional aims of the folk group.”

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