Photo by Kevin Williams|Photo by Kevin Williams

The iconic Caribbean-American folk group, Quake USA Cultural Organization (Quake USA), is comprised mainly of seasoned cultural ambassadors, who have been gracing international stages since the early 1980s, when they began performing as the founding members of Spice Island Youthquake (SIY), a premier cultural institution in the Caribbean, of Grenadian origin.

The original organizers of SIY are Fr. Oliver Leavy, an Irish-born Catholic priest; Miss Elsa Ferguson and Ms. Lauren Ramdhanny, both educators with backgrounds in music / culture; and Kevin Williams, a journalist and songwriter, who assisted as PRO and sound engineer of SIY.

Quake USA Stages a Concert

Interestingly, the theme song for the 5 pm, Sunday, Dec. 13 concert of Quake USA, carded for the auditorium of St. Catherine of Genoa R.C. School in Brooklyn, is “Christmas Feeling,” based on a song written by Williams.

“Caroling morning and evening, house to house we will be going… feting and street dancing, a soca Christmas feeling,” are a few of the telling catchy words of the festive song, which captures some aspects of the Caribbean Christmas experience.

Needless to say, attendees of Sunday’s “Caribbean Christmas Feeling” concert, can expect to find lots of sorrel, ginger beer, black cake, ham, homemade bread and cocoa tea, on sale.

It is historically noteworthy that Quake USA is definitively the longest continuously performing Caribbean-American folk group in the Diaspora.

“Motivated by nostalgia and a desire to ensure the preservation of expressive Caribbean culture — music, song, dance, drama and poetry — in the Diaspora, some of the original members of SIY who had migrated to the USA, decided to launch this important organization, Quake USA, in 1989,” says co-director Christine Grant, who is also one of the founding members of the original SIY.

Many believe that this registered, non-profit group, based in Brooklyn, NYC, is the embodiment of a dream of the upliftment of the youth of the Caribbean and Diaspora, the author of this article has observed.

“It is with great pride and enjoyment that Quake USA has been showcasing Grenadian and Caribbean culture in all of its expressive forms,” says co-director Cheryl Vincent, aka Cheryl V, a founding member of SIY, who has since become an independent recording artiste with four albums to her credit.

Looking ahead

“Quake USA is considering ways to increase its visibility and to further advance its significant and historical mandate with respect to preserving and showcasing Caribbean culture, to ensure the inter-generational and Diasporal transfer of Caribbean cultural heritage,” adds Cheryl V.

“Historically, Quake USA is perceived by many as always being ready to add some extra ‘spice’ to events — religious services and formal ceremonies,” says Burgess “Quako” McPhie, a panist, songwriter and original member of SIY, who has independently recorded 10 CD albums and five singles.

“The tremendous contributions that the original Spice Island Youthquake and Quake USA, the offspring of the former, have together made and are continuing to make in preserving and showcasing the expressive folk culture of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique and the Caribbean, at large, are worthy of recognition,” reasons Grenadian-born, Val Adams, veteran musician and recording artiste, who recently led the mas band 500 Strong to a record third consecutive win in the 2015 Labor Day Carnival.

Notably, Quake USA has produced a CD album of some of their best songs, entitled “Quake Music,” which is available for purchase. Additionally, many of the current members of this organization are featured in the parent-organization’s (SIY’s) earlier recordings — compilations of traditional Caribbean folk and gospel music.

For bookings and CDs, plus other cultural products and services, involving folk music and dance, interested parties may contact the organization via 646-675-4303, 917 478 7388 and 347-350-4285. Additionally, one may visit “Quake USA Cultural Organization” on Facebook.

Members of the Brooklyn-based folk group Quake USA.
Photo by Kevin Williams