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Bel Canto & Friends showcasing Bahamian talent on Oct. 10

In an innovative move, Bel Canto & Friends will be showcasing Bahamian talent in a multi-genre show on October 10, celebrating Bahamian heroes who have been underappreciated.

Bahamian artists from several different genres have come together in a unique attempt to define what we Bahamians expect of our heroes and who they are. The result is a show, “Discovering Our Unsung Heroes”, which will air on ZNS at 3.00 p.m., Cable Bahamas at 5.00 p.m. and will also be streamed at 7.00 p.m. on YouTube: https://youtube.com/user/TheFamtv .

The driving force behind the production is the executive producers: Adrian Archer, director of The High Grove Singers; Dexter Fernander, director of The Bahamas National Youth Choir; Eldridge McPhee, founder and director of the Bel Canto Singers; Sonovia Pierre, musician and Heather L. Thompson, writer and storyteller. The executive producers have put together a tantalizing program scripted by Adrian Archer, which will showcase works by Bahamian artists and performers and is dedicated to our essential workers who have the grammy syndrome in abundance.

A hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities. On this basis, for most Bahamians, if you dig deep, their hero is the strict, no-nonsense yet kind, courageous, loving and caring, nurturing and fun-loving, resilient and resourceful, dedicated and unselfish grammy figure. You may have wondered who the smiling face of the more mature woman on our flyers designed by Donavan Clarke is. Well, wonder no more. She is Donavan’s representation of grammy. Whilst the actual identity of the heroes to be celebrated is a closely guarded secret, to be revealed only on October 10th, everyone can identify with grammy’s attributes.

The timing of the show, around National Heroes Day, is not coincidental; the executive producers wish to honor our everyday heroes, those who are often overlooked and underappreciated. Hosts of the show are well-known local personalities, Claudette “Cookie” Allens and Andrew Knowles.

Given the composition of the executive producers, it will be no surprise that music will play a big role in the production, with performances by the Bahamas National Youth Choir, the Bel Canto Singers and The High Grove Singers. However, in some instances, there will be interplay between the genres, for example, poetry by Heather L. Thompson accompanied by a chorus from the Bahamas National Youth Choir. Neither the poem nor the chorus on its own would have the same emotional impact. Similarly, the Bahamas National Youth Choir’s music will form a backdrop for poetry written and performed especially for this occasion by poet Clarence Albury. There will be no shortage of indigenous work: the Bel Canto Singers will perform Sonovia Pierre’s “My Spirit Will Not Pass Away” and up-and-coming artist and producer, Shad Fer will debut a new song.

Some of the heroes are no longer with us, but the executive producers still wish to honor them and what could be more appropriate for this purpose than Marion Bethel’s “And The Trees Still Stand”. Bethel was awarded the Casa de las Américas Prize for her collection of poems, “Guanahani, My Love” in 1995. Sony Jean-Jacques will read two other poems and the audience can look forward to James Catalyn’s seminal piece, “I am a Bahamian”.

Jamaal Rolle, The Celebrity Artist, has created a special portrait to honor grammy and this portrait will be available for purchase at a silent auction from October 10-15. Rolle has created portraits for some of the world’s most recognizable and influential figures, including Prince Harry, Oprah Winfrey and Sir Sidney Poitier. However, this particular portrait is special in that, in this case, Rolle pays tribute to all Bahamian grandmothers. You can participate in the silent auction on Bel Canto’s Facebook page at https://fb.me/e/46FxdeCJo .

Other artwork on display will be photography by Pamela Burnside and G. Marko Chea, as well as a painting by Nicole S .Minnis.

During the pandemic there has been a resurgence of interest in storytelling. Craig Smith, associate professor at the University of The Bahamas, will give a short talk on the importance of the oral tradition and Princess Pratt, well known story-teller, will be telling an original Ber Booky and Ber Rabby story. Rounding out the show will be a dramatic monologue, performed by James Knight and written by Heather L. Thompson and James Knight; and a dance duo choreographed by Miquelle Swann of Swann Talent and Entertainment.

Eldridge McPhee of the Bel Canto Singers is especially proud of the cast and the crew of Fam Studios for managing this multi-faceted production in the midst of a pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to re-engineer how we execute any project,” he said. “We are no longer providing live performances and took the necessary precautions including an air purifier, masks and mandatory social distancing for rehearsals and recording.” He expressed particular appreciation to Nurse Tasnim Bain and Shakanah Curry for conducting rapid antigen COVID-19 tests.

The audience can look forward to an afternoon of wholesome and thought-provoking family entertainment. History and contemporary events will be brought to life and the organizers hope to inspire all of us to find our inner hero.

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