Brooklyn cultural group holds successful concert

UVCGB performs “The Amazing Breadfruit.”
Nelson A. King

The United Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn (UVCGB) recently held a very successful cultural show in Brooklyn in its continuing efforts in raising funds to assist, with medical supplies, hospitals and health centers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The 2 ½-hour event, which took place at Meyer Levin Intermediate School 285, attracted many Caribbean nationals, including a significant amount of Jamaicans who worship with some UVCGB members at an evangelical church in Brownsville, Brooklyn.

UVCGB members performed a number of selections, dramatizations, skits and dances, including new ones written by Ada Johnson, a lawyer and retired registrar of the High Court in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and arranged by her fellow compatriot Don Sutherland, a renowned cultural figure in the country’s second largest town, Georgetown.

Johnson wrote – and received rave reviews for – “Chatoyer” in honor of the nation’s first and only National Hero and Paramount Carib Chief; and “The Amazing Breadfruit,” recognizing the national fruit from which myriad dishes are made.

Johnson, who recently became a UVCGB member, also took an active role in the 11th Annual Cultural Show, along with Sutherland, who is the group’s musical arranger.

UVCGB’s band, coordinated by Geoffrey Holder, of Byera Hill, provided backstop music for performers.

Emily Mentos-James, formerly Johnson, performed spiritual and folkloric songs on the harmonica (mouth organ); Jamal conducted comedic acts reminiscent of the late leading Vincentian comedian Saluche (Lucien Small); and UVCGB children, Jessica and Jedidah, danced to “I Will Dance.”

There were brief greetings from New York Counsel General Selmon Walters; President of the umbrella, Brooklyn-based Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO), Laverne McDowald-Thompson; and President of the Philadelphia-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania (SVGOP), Lorenzo DeCaul, of Biabou.

UVCGB observed a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States and Judy Cunningham, an active UVCGB member, who succumbed to breast cancer 10 years ago.

Cunningham’s widower Ralphie Cunningham, is also a leading member of UVCGB. He acted as “Papa Lulu” in the skit by the same name that involved an Obeah Man.

UVCGB president Dr. Roxie Irish, a former national netball star, said, while this year has been a “very busy and challenging” one for the group, “the joy is watching the hand of God as He continues to work within this ministry.

“There were quite a few events happening on the same day as our event, but we are pleased that our supporters came out in large numbers,” said the Born-Again Christian, in a Caribbean Life interview, about the Sept. 12 concert.

“In everything, we give thanks to God for his blessings,” she added. “On behalf of UVCGB, let me say a big ‘Thank You’ to all who volunteered, gave, attended, participated and prayed for us, because, without you, this would not have been the success it was.”

In July, despite some constraints, Irish said the prominent cultural group completed a very successful medical mission to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Overall, the mission was very successful,” she said, disclosing that UVCGB was able to hand over about US$15,000 worth of medical supplies to six clinics in St. Vincent and the Grenadines – Owia, Georgetown, Park Hill, Stubbs, Calliaqua and Paget Farm (Bequia).

Irish said the distribution brings to 35 the number of clinics in St. Vincent and the Grenadines that her group has served since its medical missions began in 2003.

“We have just a few more left, then the process starts all over again,” she said, identifying those clinics as Lowmans Windward, Diamonds, Buccament and Calder. “Whatever we can do for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we’ll do.”

Ralphie Cunningham acts as “Papa Lulu” during a presentation by The United Vincie Cultural Group of Brooklyn.
Nelson A. King

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