Another musical icon has left us with the passing of Edward ‘Sollie’ Solomon and the outpouring of emotion coupled with sentimental memories, have made it clear that Caymanians, residents and visitors benefited greatly from his contribution in the arts and in particular music.
A Musical Icon, who received the award from the Cayman Music and Entertainment Association (CMEA) in 2016, Sollie was one of the few musicians from Cayman that was given his roses during his life time and rightly so.
This reality brings sharply into focus, how important it is for the Cayman Islands and its people to continue to honour their cultural ambassadors.
Those that play a role in the arts must not be forgotten or overlooked in the tapestry that makes up the fabric of Cayman, and their contribution should never be understated or overlooked.
Each generation of artists inspires the one that comes after it in ways that cannot always be quantified, but are more often than not, felt in the subtle vigor of artistic zeal, and in the determination and dreams of those who choose to channel their creativity.
To this end, the CMEA under the Presidency of Brent McLean and Vice President Spencer Merren started the Muzaic in 2008. At the time the awards only included that of Musical Icon and Long Service.
These were broadened under former CMEA President, Mr. Jean-eric Smith, who set out to honour musicians with the introduction of several other awards recognising the contribution of those in the Cayman Islands’ musical fraternity.
These included Awards for Long Service, the Jazzy B Award for Djs, the Young Musicians Award, International Success and Regional Success Awards and the Premier’s Award.
The Premier’s Award was discontinued by the Peoples Progressive Movement Government.
Others to receive the Icon Award include the Icon Award include, Allan ‘Bunny’ Myles’ in 2016, Junior Jennings in 2020 for his over 50 years in the music industry; Lambert ‘Lammie’ Seymour in 2018 for his work with the Memory of Justice Band and decades of contributions to Cayman’s musical industry and Wesley Howell in 2019 for his contribution during his lifetime of 100 plus years.
The ‘Night of Legends’ hosted by the CMEA in 2019, honored the Tornadoes and Kiemaniares among others such as Bunny Myles and ‘Papie’ Conolly, who was known for the popular song, ‘May Caymanian Girl’.
He has since passed away.
Mr. Papie Conolly was slated to receive an Icon Award in 2021 but due to Covid, this did not happen, noted former President Jean-eric Smith.
‘Cayman is losing its musicians, who played a major part in the Islands’ cultural landscape and shaped the industry in Cayman today,’ he lamented.
Today, there are only three living icons left. Thes include Allan Bunne Myles, Lammy Seymour and Junior Jennings. Wesley Howell passed away.
The last Caymanian Icon was Mr. Melvin Augustine, who received the award posthumously.
Over 100 Caymanian musicians have been awarded and recognized by the CMEA since the inception of the Muzaic event.
However, since the Association has changed hands there has been no mention of a continuation of the programme and at many of the festivals that come to the Islands, Caymanian artists music is not being heard.
The issue is not vastly different on Radio in Cayman and outlets for the appreciation of those in the music industry in the Cayman Islands seem to be dwindling.
It used to be mandatory that when foreign artists were booked/scheduled to perform in the Cayman Islands, they had to be accompanied by at least once local act. This has not been the case in recent times and the gaping void in this area is one that is becoming all the more evident.
The insidious nature of the music industry in the Cayman Islands has meant that some of the most talented artists in the British Territory have had to live in other countries such as England and Jamaica to pursue their art.
This is an indictment on the moral and national pride of these Islands, which have never truly flourished with respect to the arts.
One can only hope that organisations representing music will work to restore the Muzaic Festival and its awards, as well as the requirement to hire local bands when performers come form overseas.
Currently, there are plans in the works for musicians to be paid when their music plays on the radio and venues (nightclubs and bars) to register as places where music is used commercially. This needs to happen in order to lubricate the wheels of creativity in the Cayman Islands and assist with creating the revenue necessary for musicians to fuel their art.
As the old saying goes, ‘soon come’.