Norma Darby – spreading warmth of Jamaican culture in Florida
The Gleaner - Published:Nov. 22, 2020
Lynda Edwards and George Graham
Louise Bennett-Coverley is buried in Jamaica’s National Heroes Park, but ‘Miss Lou’ lives on in Florida. Her life’s work is vibrantly showcased by the Jamaican Folk Revue and the Louise Bennett-Coverley Heritage Council– thanks to Jamaica-born Norma Darby.
Darby founded the Folk Revue after attending the Miami International Folk Festival, which featured cuisine, music, songs and dances from around the world. Jamaica’s only representation consisted of the island’s food and beverages.
“I saw the ways in which other countries showed off their cultural heritage,” Mrs Darby says. “And I thought, Jamaica has a wonderful culture, why not put it on display, too?”
At the time, her husband Percival (everybody calls him Val) was a professor at Florida International University, and she had trained as a medical technologist. But they shared a passion for the stage.
“We met in 1957 during a production of Sunday Cost Five Pesos by my church’s theatre group,” Darby recalls. “He was a budding comedian and singer who played the lead role of Woody Mahoney in the LTM’s Pantomime production of Finian’s Rainbow. Even when he forgot his lines, his ad libs were hilarious.”
THE LOUISE BENNETT-COVERLEY
HERITAGE COUNCIL (FL) INC.
Fabulous concert featuring the Jamaican Folk Singers with Colin Smith and Musicians, Joan Andrea Hutchinson, Malachi Smith and Maxine Osbourne at the Coral Springs Arts Center, Coral Springs, Fl. - Sept 7,2019.
Don Parchment photos
Cheers and Applause Greet Unveiling of Miss Lou Statue
There were loud cheers and spirited applause from the massive crowd, which gathered in Gordon Town Square, St. Andrew on Friday, Sept. 7, to witness the unveiling of a life-size bronze statue in honour of Jamaica’s late cultural icon, Hon. Louise Bennett-Coverley, affectionately called “Miss Lou.”
Celebrating Miss Lou's 100th
As part of the Miss Lou 100th anniversary celebrations,
The Louise Bennett-Coverley Heritage Council (Fla) Inc., commissioned articles on Miss Lou from Jamaican writers living in South Florida for distribution to local Caribbean newspapers.