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National Honours for Jamaica College Old Boys: Monty Alexander and Kwame Dawes

KINGSTON, JAMAICA - 17 OCTOBER 2022. In continuance of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, Jamaica College Old Boys, jazz great Monty Alexander, and eminent poet and professor Dr. Kwame Dawes, were officially recognised with National Honours by the Government of Jamaica. Held on National Heroes Day, on the lawns of King’s House, the National Honours and Awards Ceremony formally recognises Jamaicans who have had a meaningful and significant impact on national life through their service and contribution.

Monty, a recipient of the Jamaica College Old Boys Association of New York Distinguished Alumnus Award, was conferred with the national honor of the Order of Jamaica for "Sterling Contributions to the Promotions of Jamaican Music and the Jazz Genre Interpretations Globally". In the year 2000, Monty was the recipient of the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander award.

Nearly sixty years after he moved to the United States from Kingston, Jamaica, his hometown, Grammy nominated pianist Monty Alexander is a classic, touring the world relentlessly with various projects, delighting a global audience drawn to his vibrant personality and soulful message. A perennial favorite at Jazz festivals and venues worldwide and at the Montreux Jazz Festival where he has appeared 23 times since 1976, his spirited conception is one informed by the timeless verities: endless melody-making, effervescent grooves, sophisticated voicings, a romantic spirit, and a consistent predisposition, as Alexander accurately states, “to build up the heat and kick up a storm.”

Monty is documented on more than 75 recordings and cited as the fifth greatest jazz pianist ever in The Fifty Greatest Jazz Piano Players of All Time (Hal Leonard Publishing), Jazz Genre Interpretations Globally". In 2018 the University of The West Indies bestowed him with an honorary doctorate degree (DLitt) in recognition of his accomplishments.

Monty's latest album (released August 19, 2022) is titled Love Notes and is his first recording featuring his vocals. The release of “Love Notes” will be accompanied by tour dates worldwide. Also in the works is “The Monty Alexander Movie,” a documentary on Monty’s life and music. Directed by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Jefferson Miller, and veteran filmmaker Arthur Gorson, the project is currently in production in Jamaica, the U.S. and Europe.

Dr. Kwame Dawes, also a recipient of the Jamaica College Old Boys Association of New York Distinguished Alumnus Award, was conferred with the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander, "for contributions to the literary arts as poet and writer".

Born in Ghana, Dawes moved to Jamaica in 1971, where he spent most of his childhood and early adult life. He has published numerous plays, poems, and books. His awards include an Emmy and Webby for LiveHopeLove, an interactive website based on the Kwame Dawes Pulitzer Prize Center project HOPE: Living and Loving with AIDS in Jamaica. Dawes’s other honors and award include the Forward Prize for Poetry for his first book Progeny of Air (1994); the Hollis Summers Prize for Poetry; a Pushcart Prize; the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; the Poets and Writers Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award; and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. In 2004 he received the Musgrave Silver Medal for contribution to the Arts in Jamaica and in 2008 the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for service to the arts in South Carolina. In 2009 he was inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors.

Dawes is currently the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska. The co-founder and programming directory of the Calabash International Literary Festival and a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Dawes also teaches in the Pacific MFA Writing Program and is on the faculty of Cave Canem.

Congratulations to Monty and Kwame.

Floreat Collegium, Fervet Opus in Campis! (May the College Flourish, Work is Burning in the Field!


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