Jennifer Deep Into Bajan Culture
Jennifer walker is a woman of great character, who over the years has managed to shape a colourful career for herself in entertainment. She wears numerous hats as a performer, comedian, MC and businesswoman.
But surprisingly, during the interview with Bajan Vibes, she revealed she was quite a shy person, which had caused her for many years to settle for working backstage doing most technical things.
“I enjoyed working with props, lights and sound,” she said. She now owns her own theatre company –– Double Laugh Entertainment.
Walker recalled her first performance in the Bajan Bus Stop comedy show, which landed her a role later with that company for 15 years. “I got the role of Celeste, wife to the drunkard Seymour.”
The first dramatic piece which she would have written and performed as a solo artiste was A Proud Bajan Woman, a tribute to female cane-cutters. It would earn her silver at the National Independence Festival Of Creative Arts (NIFCA). From there onwards “the character of the cane-cutter became a hit”, she said.
Walker has a huge presence in the Crop Over Festival in the said role, and she enthuses over the many different aspects of it.
“I love Crop Over because it is a festival [that] . . . is a collection of different things you can be involved in. A lot of people think it is just the calypsonians and the tents, [but] it’s about folk, heritage, our craftspersons and food as well,” she said.
Of the songs being produced at this time, Walker commented: “I like the music, good music; music that not only entertains, but educates.”
She however described much of the music “coming out now” as “bedroom songs, empty in the lyrics . . . songs with one verse”.
“When you write, it should be more than just for the sake of a laugh, or the sake of a wine,” she argued.
Walker also pointed out there was a need for more recognition of and tribute paid to those who worked in the agriculture sector –– those who would’ve made Crop Over what is really is, especially those who were “working the ground”.
“People would put on a 15-carat chain to jump on the road, but wouldn’t plant two carrots,” she observed.
The artiste said while having beautifully beaded costumes was fine, it needed to be remembered that there were those people “out there sweating beads of perspiration [from] digging the ground”.
Walker believes Bajans are losing touch with their culture.
“We aren’t isolated,” she admitted, “influences are coming in; you would expect that,” but she would love too see Bajans holding on to what was uniquely theirs.
“We [should] write about what is ours, that we can highlight or showcase, and tell the stories of Barbados –– whether it is in music, dance, costume, local craft.
“Artistes such as Lil Rick have done this,” she said.