May 6, 2021 | FANNE News |
Kingston, Jamaica; Veteran broadcaster and lecturer, Fae Ellington CD, OD; actor and comedian, Oliver Samuels CD; and award-winning writer, actress, storyteller, Dr. Amina Blackwood-Meeks are amongst the first set of nationally and globally recognized cultural stalwarts to join a group of Mastermind Advisors that have stepped up in support of ‘Jamaica Heroes Modernized’ (JHM). These cultural masterminds include social historian, Professor Verene Shepherd; Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies, Dr. Carolyn Cooper CD; Dr. Clinton Hutton a lecturer in Political Philosophy and Caribbean and African Diasporic Culture and Aesthetics; author and Senior Lecturer in Cultural Studies, Dr. Sonjah Stanley Niaah; and renowned singer, actor, composer and musical director, Hugh Douse, among others.
JHM, conceptualized by Jamaican-born ‘ARTivist’ Charles “Mark Phi” Smart, is on a mission to utilize the cultural pride of community to empower independence through Jamaica’s national legacy with a goal to inspire positive change in the hearts and minds of Jamaicans.
The project is being harnessed with the support of Jamaica’s Consul General in Miami, Oliver Mair as well as celebrity photographer and cinematographer Suzanne Delawar, whose work has been featured on platforms such as Netflix, BET, Ellen, NBC. Award winning film director Oniffe White; film producer, actress and Vice-President of Women In Film and Television (WIFTJA), Sherando Ferril; Chairman of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), Ewan Simpson; and Andre Kay of the top ranked USA based social media agency, Sociallybuzz are also amongst a slew of visionaries on the JHM team.
Centred around the revival and modernization of the portrayal of Jamaica’s national heroes, Mark Phi, most recently recognized for his George Floyd inspired body of work, ‘46 Pleas’, a painting and docuseries dubbed ‘Conflicted Coward’, provided some insight into Jamaica Heroes Modernized. “We are reviving and modernizing the portrayal of Jamaica’s National Heroes with a 10 episode film series, original Jamaican music, fine art paintings and print. For the first time, we are aggregating and centralizing the stories of our heroes into a single Body of Work, chronologically highlighting their contributions to Jamaica’s emancipation and independence. To start, we have transformed the dull black and white sketches and photos of our heroes into colourful artistic portrayals to make them more relatable; and their stories more relevant to modern society,” he explained.
Speaking to JHM’s proposed 10-episode docuseries, original musical productions and print collateral to be distributed to schools across the island, Mark Phi added that “The artistic renditions of our national heroes, which is the first phase of the project, is already complete. Every aspect of Jamaica Heroes Modernized belongs to the people – Jamaicans at home and abroad. It is my hope that through this mission to empower the independence of our people, Jamaicans will be inspired to become even more independent through our country’s legacy, pride and power.” He went on: “We plan to use platforms such as dance, education, music and the internet to create a multidimensional approach for Jamaica’s rich history to live on through our children and our children’s children.”
The multidimensional approach being undertaken by JHM, will engage a premium team of top-tier all-Jamaican producers, writers, musicians, directors, historians and communications specialists. A Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign has been established to raise funds for the first episode of the 10-part docuseries which will feature Jamaica’s seven national heroes, as well as Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley, OM and the Rt. Hon. Dr. Louise Bennett-Coverley (Miss Lou) OM, OJ, MBE.
Professor Verene Shepherd believes that Jamaica Heroes Modernized is timely and well needed. “This project is not only one of artistic revisualization and re-presentation of the Heroes and one Heroine, but also one of reclamation of the history of a country and a people scarred by myths and depersonalization of our icons,” she said.
According to ARTivist Mark Phi, Jamaica Heroes Modernized is well positioned as a game changing catalyst for the perseverance of a people through these early members to the JHM community who will function as cultural ambassadors of JHM to help ignite civic pride and consciousness in the hearts and minds of Jamaicans.