On 4 August 2022, the George Padmore Institute and Lambeth Libraries held an evening to celebrate Jean Binta Breeze, a special voice in British Caribbean poetry. She was a riveting performer who captivated audiences far and wide with her award-winning verse. On the first anniversary of her passing, her friends, colleagues and family from the worlds of literature, music and theatre celebrated her life and work.
The participants in the evening of poetry, song and remembrance:
Melanie Abrahams FRSA is a literature producer, curator and an occasional lecturer and speaker. She is the founder and the Creative Director of Renaissance One and Tilt, which produce events, tours, mixed media and work in schools. She has curated a range of festivals and is an Enabler for Slate World, a Creative Europe-funded project exploring the connections between black artists within Europe.
Dennis Bovell was born in Barbados. He is a legendary pioneer of British reggae and lovers rock. He is a multi-talented musician, producer and sound engineer, as well as founder of British reggae band Matumbi. Dennis produced two of Jean Binta Breeze’s albums. The Dennis Bovell Dub Band has toured the world with Linton Kwesi Johnson.
Caribe Breese is the third and last child of Jean Breese. She was born and raised in London and Jamaica, where she completed her academic studies, including Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of the West Indies. She has been a results-focused marketer for the past ten years and also helps entrepreneurs and start-up companies shape their marketing under her personal brand, Breese Global.
Burt Caesar was born in St Kitts. He is an actor, director and broadcaster. A founder-member of Black Theatre Co-operative and a former Associate Director at the Royal Court Theatre, he has written and presented extensively on BBC Radio. His project with Jean Binta Breeze to develop a play about Mary Seacole was ongoing till her untimely transition.
Dona Croll was born in Hanover in Jamaica grew up in Birmingham in the UK from the age of four. Her forty-five year acting career spans British theatre, television, film and radio dramas, from Serious Money in the West End to Henry V at the RSC; from The Long Song to Holby City and Desmond’s on television; and films including Hallelujah Anyhow (written by Jean Binta Breeze) and, soon to be released, Mr Martin’s List.
Everald ‘Far-I’ Forrest is a veteran percussionist specialising in Rastafarian rhythms. He was a founder member of Rasta Love, a group of drummers based in Brixton, and a member of the Bhurru Drummers. He has accompanied poets Mikey Smith, Jean Binta Breeze and LKJ. He has toured widely with the Dennis Bovell Dub Band and played on many reggae recordings.
Linton Kwesi Johnson was born in Clarendon, Jamaica and has been living in south London since he was eleven. He is an acclaimed reggae poet and recording artist who has toured the world. His albums range from Dread Beat An' Blood to, most recently, LKJ Live in Paris with the Dennis Bovell Dub Band. His poetry books include Selected Poems (Penguin). LKJ is Chair of 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning in Brixton.
Angela Wynter has most recently been playing Mama Benin in The Playboy Of The West Indies at Birmingham Rep. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, she settled in Hinckley, Leicestershire. In her first acting role, a stage play titled Meetings, she acted opposite her later on-screen EastEnders spouse Rudolph Walker. Since then, Angela has appeared widely on screen and stage, from ITV’s Vera to The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre in London.
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