High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), His Excellency Anthony Johnson officially opened a special Interactive Exhibition on the life of Jamaican singer, Laurel Aitken, at the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in Leicester, in the East Midlands, on October 9.
The ‘Ska with Laurel’ exhibition tells the story of the legendary Jamaican Ska artiste, Laurel Aitken, who died in 2005 at age 78.
High Commissioner Johnson commended the city of Leicester for honouring Aitken, whom he described as a pioneer of modern Jamaican music.
He told the audience, which included Mr. Aitken’s widow, Sandra; the Lord Mayor of Leicester; and renown Jamaican poet, Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze, that Mr. Aitken was among the Jamaican musicians who created a new style of Jamaican popular music and was among the early wave of musicians who spread that new music to the United Kingdom and across the world.
Called the ‘Godfather of Ska’, Mr. Aitken was an influential figure in the development new Jamaican musical styles in the 1950s and 1960s.
High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Anthony Johnson and Mrs. Pamela Johnson view a section of the special ‘Ska with Laurel’ Interactive Exhibition, on the life of veteran Jamaican Ska musician, Laurel Aitken. The exhibition at the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in Leicester, in the East Midlands, was opened on October 9 and will last until March 2011.
The exhibition features audio visuals, including a film of Mr. Aitken’s last live performance, his stage clothes, photographs, posters and press cuttings about Mr. Aitken.
Mr. Aitken lived in Leicester for 35 years and was credited for his contribution to the cultural life of the city, by inspiring and helping hundreds of young musicians.
The singer’s big break came in 1958 with the release of ‘Little Sheila’ in Jamaica and the United Kingdom. The song held the number one spot on the former Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) chart for 11 weeks.
His music was popular with the youth culture of the time, including the ‘Mods’ and early ‘Skinheads’ in the 1960s and 1970s. He also influenced the ‘Two Tone’ sound of the early 1980s, and was popular with British bands, such as The Specials and Bad Manners. He was also popular in Germany, Italy and Japan.
The Gleaner and the Jamaica National Building Society in 2000 presented Mr. Aitken with community achievement awards. He was also honoured by the Leicester Society of Jamaicans in 1986.