UB Professor Releases Educational Book Series, 'The Musical Archipelago'

Mon, Jun 10th 2024, 10:14 AM

In recognition of University of The Bahamas’ (UB) 50th anniversary, Krista Walkes-Francis, UB professor, collector and author recently launched The Musical Archipelago, a three-volume educational book series that documents over 140 years of music that has been written about and produced in The Bahamas. 

As part of a Meet the Writer series, Walkes-Francis presented the book May 23, 2024 before Senator the Hon. Randy Rolle, family, well-wishers, Ministry of Education representatives, UB faculty and administration at the University’s Performing Arts Centre.

Each volume is categorized by island and features over 400 Bahamian artists and groups, most of them their names unknown and not found on the internet.

“I thought after all the work, the years that these people put into their craft it is so unfair for them to die, unknown, unacknowledged and unappreciated.

“Not everybody has someone in their life to tell them about what is important in their life culturally like my Dad did for me and to say pay attention to this, you need to know this as a Bahamian.  A lot of us are suffering from what is known as cultural amnesia where people no longer recognize what is important about their culture and a lot of the names that should be memorialized are not -- are forgotten. That’s why I wanted to do this series to get it into the schools so young people can know. How can they know unless we tell them?

“Doing this has made me a better Bahamian, more proud to be Bahamian,” she said.

The series pays tribute to the myriad musicians who have helped build a legacy of which all Bahamians are beneficiaries.

“One of the things that caused me to do this for posterity -- for kids that are coming up now -- I was teaching a class and I made a reference to KB. One of my students said who is KB.  I paused and then I explained. After the class I thought if they don’t know who KB is right now in their own time what’s going to happen in another 20, 30 years.”

As Walkes-Francis shared the inception and significance of her book series, she reflected on her father, Cyril Augustus Walkes and his love of music which he passed on to her.

“A lot of our bonding was over music and he would memorize the lyrics of these songs in their entirety. When they played on the radio he would be able to say not only who sang what, the history of that artist and he would sing all of the lyrics.  That started from I was about three years old. I remember the Independence album featuring Tony MCkay, Blind Blake, all of these Bahamian artists and he would play that on the record player for me.  I enjoyed listening to them over and over. That’s where it all started for me,” she said.

Walkes-Francis has been collecting Bahamian music from 2000 to the present.

“First I started saying I’m doing 50 years of music; then I said from 1930 to 1970 -- I’ll find a way to sort of cut it.  When I submitted all the stuff to the publishers they said why are you limiting yourself.  It seems as if you have more than enough for several books because if you try to put it into one thing it might be too long.

“This could have easily been a 500-page book. It was then that it really struck me about the immensity of what Bahamian artists have produced and the quality of it.  They are recognized internationally, many of them under the guise of being American or some other nationality but they have Bahamian roots. That’s my starting point for volume 1 – the international appeal and influence of The Bahamas on local music.”

Volume 2 will be available for purchase in July for Independence Day and features a Who’s Who of Bahamian Music from all genres.  It also comprises a section on “Tribute Songs” including songs about the Golden Girls and Elisha Obed.

Gospel music traditions – the Region Bells, the Singing Bishop -- non-traditional artists, reggae artists, and dance hall artists are featured in Volume 3. “Bahamian gospel artists are internationally known, win awards globally but yet if I had not been doing this I would not have known their names.”

Volumes 1 and 3 have been released first and are available for pre-order.

The launch featured a video presentation which depicted some of the songs in the book.

Professor Walkes-Francis also highlighted the following that she discovered in her research:

About 25 Bahamian artists are featured in major motion pictures from 1955 to 2019.

The group Baha Men has about 15 songs featured in movies – the most popular among them Who Let the Dogs Out.

Over the years many recording artists have come to The Bahamas to release their albums or to make music.

A lot of songs written by Bahamians have been covered by international artists.   

In recognition of University of The Bahamas’ (UB) 50th anniversary, Krista Walkes-Francis, UB professor, collector and author recently launched The Musical Archipelago, a three-volume educational book series that documents over 140 years of music that has been written about and produced in The Bahamas.
 
As part of a Meet the Writer series, Walkes-Francis presented the book May 23, 2024 before Senator the Hon. Randy Rolle, family, well-wishers, Ministry of Education representatives, UB faculty and administration at the University’s Performing Arts Centre.
 
Each volume is categorized by island and features over 400 Bahamian artists and groups, most of them their names unknown and not found on the internet.
“I thought after all the work, the years that these people put into their craft it is so unfair for them to die, unknown, unacknowledged and unappreciated.
“Not everybody has someone in their life to tell them about what is important in their life culturally like my Dad did for me and to say pay attention to this, you need to know this as a Bahamian.  A lot of us are suffering from what is known as cultural amnesia where people no longer recognize what is important about their culture and a lot of the names that should be memorialized are not -- are forgotten. That’s why I wanted to do this series to get it into the schools so young people can know. How can they know unless we tell them?
“Doing this has made me a better Bahamian, more proud to be Bahamian,” she said.
The series pays tribute to the myriad musicians who have helped build a legacy of which all Bahamians are beneficiaries.
“One of the things that caused me to do this for posterity -- for kids that are coming up now -- I was teaching a class and I made a reference to KB. One of my students said who is KB.  I paused and then I explained. After the class I thought if they don’t know who KB is right now in their own time what’s going to happen in another 20, 30 years.”
As Walkes-Francis shared the inception and significance of her book series, she reflected on her father, Cyril Augustus Walkes and his love of music which he passed on to her.
 
“A lot of our bonding was over music and he would memorize the lyrics of these songs in their entirety. When they played on the radio he would be able to say not only who sang what, the history of that artist and he would sing all of the lyrics.  That started from I was about three years old. I remember the Independence album featuring Tony MCkay, Blind Blake, all of these Bahamian artists and he would play that on the record player for me.  I enjoyed listening to them over and over. That’s where it all started for me,” she said.
Walkes-Francis has been collecting Bahamian music from 2000 to the present.
“First I started saying I’m doing 50 years of music; then I said from 1930 to 1970 -- I’ll find a way to sort of cut it.  When I submitted all the stuff to the publishers they said why are you limiting yourself.  It seems as if you have more than enough for several books because if you try to put it into one thing it might be too long.
“This could have easily been a 500-page book. It was then that it really struck me about the immensity of what Bahamian artists have produced and the quality of it.  They are recognized internationally, many of them under the guise of being American or some other nationality but they have Bahamian roots. That’s my starting point for volume 1 – the international appeal and influence of The Bahamas on local music.”
Volume 2 will be available for purchase in July for Independence Day and features a Who’s Who of Bahamian Music from all genres.  It also comprises a section on “Tribute Songs” including songs about the Golden Girls and Elisha Obed.
 
Gospel music traditions – the Region Bells, the Singing Bishop -- non-traditional artists, reggae artists, and dance hall artists are featured in Volume 3. “Bahamian gospel artists are internationally known, win awards globally but yet if I had not been doing this I would not have known their names.”
Volumes 1 and 3 have been released first and are available for pre-order.
The launch featured a video presentation which depicted some of the songs in the book.
Professor Walkes-Francis also highlighted the following that she discovered in her research:
About 25 Bahamian artists are featured in major motion pictures from 1955 to 2019.
 
The group Baha Men has about 15 songs featured in movies – the most popular among them Who Let the Dogs Out.
Over the years many recording artists have come to The Bahamas to release their albums or to make music.
A lot of songs written by Bahamians have been covered by international artists.   
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