The Yoruba Singers, Guyana’s longest surviving group whose life’s work has been dedicated to ensuring authentic folklore music lives on, recently celebrated its 49th anniversary. Speaking on this momentous occasion with the Guyana Standard was the leader of the band, Mr. Eze Rockcliffe.
The aficionado of the arts shared that the band officially turned 49-years-old on May 25, last. He said that the current members include Kenneth Rockcliffe, Joycelyn Rockcliffe, Xonephon Golliah , Peter Callender , Gordon Henry, Paul Barker , Keron Richards , Herman Barnett, and Earl Paul.
The band leader said that the anniversary is a significant occasion as it shows that the group has remained committed to the celebration of the African culture which his ancestors brought to Guyana following their journey here some 400 years ago. Rockcliffe said that he is proud of his band’s cultural and even financial achievements over the years while reminding that it has taken the Guyanese sound to various parts of the world. In this regard, Rockcliffe noted that the Yoruba Singers is the only Guyanese group that has ever performed at Madison Square Garden which has remained the most celebrated arena in the world since its inception in 1879.
The Yoruba Singers has taken its haunting melodies and captivating performances to Carifestas which were held in 1976 in Jamaica; 1979 in Havanna, Cuba; 1981 in Barbados; and twice in Guyana for the years 1972 and 2008.
Even with these commendable achievements, Rockcliffe remains at his core, a humble being. In fact, he was keen to register his gratitude to all those who supported the band’s work over the years. On this note, Rockcliffe shared that the late Derry Etkins was one of the many diehard supporters of the Yoruba Singers he will never forget.
“He was an outstanding musician, a noble Guyanese, and an artist who always cared for other musicians. I would even say he was an auxiliary member of the Yoruba Singers…The industry has truly lost a champion,” the 69-year-old intimated.
In keeping with the national measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Rockcliffe shared that the band is not active at the moment. But by God’s grace, fans can surely look forward to having their full dose of authentic folklore music once this storm is over. For those who are desirous of feeding their souls with the melodious sounds of this legendary Guyanese band, Rockcliffe said that their albums Ojinga Zone, Fighting for Survival, A we like dem song dis, and a cover album called Songs we love to dance, are available for purchase. Interested persons can call 225-7714 for more information.