Jamaican Maroon Cultural Performances
September 6 – 8, 2016
Encore Performance: September 14, 2016!
The 11-member Jamaican Maroon performance ensemble, the Granny Nanny Cultural Group, will be making their debut two-month US tour in Atlanta. The group will be staging musical performances, conducting master workshops and demonstrations (drumming, dancing, singing, and arts & crafts making), and giving talks at colleges, universities, K-12 schools, libraries, community centers, and festivals. There will also be screenings of the documentary-film Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess, a photo exhibition on the Maroons by Atlanta photographer Mettina van der Veen, displays of traditional Maroon arts & crafts, intellectual and literary symposia with scholarly discussions, poetry and literature readings, as well as talks on topics of historical, contemporary, political, cultural, spiritual, and environmental relevance to the Maroons.
Georgia State Event Schedule
1 - 2 pm Public performance of Jamaican Maroon music. Unity Plaza, 55 Gilmer Street.
The Moore Town Maroons of Jamaica
The Jamaican Maroons are descendants of enslaved Africans who had escaped from plantation slavery to live free lives in the most remote and inaccessible parts of the territories that were colonized by the European powers. Hundreds of years of geographic and cultural, in most cases, allowed them to develop a distinct cultural identity in which they were able to preserve many important aspects of their African heritage, including their languages, spiritual practices, relationship with the natural environment and music.
The Granny Nanny Cultural Group is a traditional Maroon performing arts ensemble, which consists of master musicians, drummers, storytellers, craftspeople, traditional healers, and spiritualists from the Maroon settlement of Moore Town, in the parish of Portland, Jamaica. The group was formed in the early 1990s to honor the legacy of their 18th century Akan warrior priestess and ancestor, Queen Nanny of the Windward Jamaican Maroons, who is Jamaica’s only female National Hero. In 2008, the Maroon heritage of Moore Town was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. In 2015, their ancestral territories in the Blue & John Crow Mountains National Park in Jamaica were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
The Director of the Granny Nanny Cultural Group, Major Charles Aarons, is a world-renowned master drummer, Abeng (side-blown cow’s horn) blower, traditional healer, oral historian, and cultural activist. Major Aarons has performed on important stages in Jamaica, the United States and Europe, including during the historic visit of Nelson and Winnie Mandela to Jamaica in 1991, as well as at the 1992 American Folklife Festival at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. He has also given lectures and conducted workshops at leading colleges, universities and high schools in the United States. Furthermore, Major Aarons has appeared on important musical recordings, such as Drums of Defiance: Maroon Music from the Earliest Free Black Communities of Jamaica (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings CD, 1992). Other members of the group have appeared at the United Nations Headquarters and the Schomburg Center for Research in Blacks Culture in New York City, among other prestigious venues.
Members of the Granny Nanny Cultural Group appear in the 2015 documentary film Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftainess, produced by Roy T. Anderson and Dr. Harcourt Fuller, a descendant of the Windward Jamaican Maroons himself and Assistant Professor of History at Georgia State University. In addition to being part of the United Nations Remember Slavery Program film series, Queen Nanny was nominated for an Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) honor at the 2016 Pan African Film Festival, and is currently being screened at Jamaica House at the Rio Summer Olympics. Professor Fuller is also the Executive Producer of the group’s forthcoming album Granny Nanny Come Oh. Recorded live in Trench Town, Jamaica, the album features a range of traditional Maroon musical genres, oral histories, stories, and the Maroon language.
All performances and events at Georgia State University are FREE and open to the public!
Additional sponsors for the Jamaican Maroon Cultural Festival include the Departments of History and African American Studies at Georgia State University, Atlanta Jamaican Association (AJA), the Caribbean American Heritage Coalition (CAHC), Go Atlanta and Beyond, Photos by Mettina, and the Jamaica Music Institute (JAMIN).
For more information and a complete tour schedule, visit www.grannynannymaroons.com.
GSU Faculty Project Lead: Harcourt Fuller, Assistant Professor of History.