Monday 30 November, 2020

Newspaper articles on Machel Montano now stored in digital archive

Newspaper articles written about Machel Montano from 1983 to 2018 are now stored in a digital archive.

The archive includes news articles, features, Letters to the Editor and front pages from newspapers in Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and as far as London, Germany, Paris, Montreal and New York. The archive also includes magazine articles from Caribbean Beat, Billboard and Soca News.

Dr Kwynn Johnson, who digitised the Catholic News archive and is working on this project, said the digital archive is part of a larger Machel Montano collection built up over 35 years that consists of costumes, records, cassettes, DVDS, fan mail, trophies, posters and other memorabilia.

“This newspaper collection is the first of its kind in many ways and to as it relates to the collection of paper artefacts of the music industry as Montano’s career is extensively covered in this print media,” she said at the Caribbean Digital’s panel discussion on Digital Editions at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine on Friday.

Johnson said the collection is a rich research resource which offers a wide array of themes to be probed by scholars and ethnomusicologists.

She one theme is what articles about Montano tells us about ourselves. She read a portion of a column from late Trinidad Express columnist Keith Smith who expressed frustration at the constant condemnation of the artist during his early days.

“As we continue the historicising of T&T Carnival in the contemporary period we see how it must include the newspaper record as part of the narrative of this festival of the performing arts, this ritual of the Carnivalesque that shows part of who we are or, as Pat Bishop stated, how we wish to be perceived. Newspaper archives point to a collective memory via a print media text.

“For those in the future who may wish to theorise or produce scholarship on Montano’s career, I firmly believe this newspaper archive is where could begin as it tells us about the art in context, the artist and his industry, one he shaped and one which shaped him. It is not fake news, it is the news which we wrote in columns, letters to the editor, in headlines,” she said.

Johnson said it is hoped that an archive such as this will inspire all artists to begin their own newspaper collection which can then move into a digital repository.

“That digitisation begins with artefacts, the collection which takes a long time and is unglamorous, the task of cataloguing and indexing. In this way, we then build up a storehouse of primary data in which to be probed. As with this digital newspaper archive is a telling aspect of part of our society if of course Trinidad is Carnival and there is no Carnival museum driving research into music, mas and steelpan,” she said.

To access the archives, persons will have to apply at the Xtatik Office on Gordon Street, Port-of-Spain.

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