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Ray of Light

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  • Peta-Gaye Nash


I walked past my 15-year-old daughter’s bedroom and put my ear to the door, listening to the music that pounded from within. She usually wore airpods so this was unusual. I stood by the door listening to the lyrics and then barged in.

“What is that you’re listening to? It’s awful,” I said.

“My music,” she shrugged, barely looking up from her phone. 

“That could never be called music! It’s horrible, talking about people’s body parts like that! How can you listen to that slackness?”



As she shrugged again and I walked away, a memory hit me with such intensity, that my current life melted away and there I was again, in my twenties, backpacking around Australia. I was visiting Cairns and had met some older Jamaicans who had migrated there in the seventies. They were hungry for news of Jamaica - wanted to know what had changed - what remained the same. They asked a question that I’ve never forgotten. 


“Do people still listen to that awful man?” 


I had no idea who ‘that awful man’ was until they said Bob Marley. They shook their heads in disgust and their lips puckered like they’d eaten something sour. 


“Yes,” I answered. “Everyone listens to Bob Marley, but he’s more chill and mellow. My generation listens to something called dance hall.” 


Courtesy of Bill Fairs via Unsplash

I was thinking what they would think of dance hall music and artists like Super Cat, Bounty Killer, and Buju Banton if they thought Bob Marley’s music was awful. These older Jamaican-Australians shook their heads uncomprehendingly. 


Back then, I thought their dislike had more to do with our colonial upbringing where emulating the Anglo part of our culture was better than the Afro. I thought that Bob Marley’s dreadlocks and his embracement of black power was the real reason behind their dislike. Maybe some of that is true. But here I was in 2024 doing the same thing -  criticizing my children’s music - something I said I would never do. 



I remember back in the eighties when I lived in Orlando, Florida and my father would come into the family room where our eyes were glued to MTV. 


“Turn off that crap,” he’d say, “and go do something constructive.” He thought MTV was going to scar us for life. Further back, rock n’ roll was considered the music of the devil. I pondered two questions: does music actually get worse with time? What happens to us as we get older that we dislike newer music? 


I consulted ChatGPT (Artificial Intelligence because we can do that now) to get some answers. 


Chat GPT gave 6 reasons why older people dislike the music of younger generations. 


  • The first one is nostalgia and familiarity - we like what is familiar and what we grew up with. 


  • Second, we have cognitive biases. Some say as we get older, our brains get less flexible in processing new patterns and sounds. This cognitive rigidity makes it harder to enjoy new musical styles. 


  • The third is cultural identity and generational differences. Newer music may be seen as a departure from values and norms of the previous generation. Some of these cultural shifts are harder for older people to relate to. (Personally, I can’t relate to music with lyrics that talk about women’s private parts and the sexual act. Having said that, my daughter says the dance hall of my generation is no different.) 


  • Fourth are changes in music production and consumption giving rise to new sounds and production techniques. It can sound jarring to our ears. The way music is consumed with streaming services and social media platforms may also seem alien to older generations.


  • Fifth is selective exposure. It is normal for us to listen to what we like and avoid the unfamiliar. Our exposure to new music is limited. 


  • And finally, number six is perceived decline in quality. Older people believe that modern music lacks the artistry, complexity or emotional depth of the music with which they grew up. Music has indeed changed with digital effects and production techniques. 


ChatGPT says these reasons are emotional, psychological and cultural. 


I would like to see the day when my children are criticizing the music of their children. With the way Artificial Intelligence is exploding, my not-yet-born grandchildren will probably be listening to AI-generated music. This music may be even more alien to me but I suppose everything is a cycle and everything has its time. 



A few days later, we were at a family gathering. Louis Armstrong played softly in the background. One of the elders looked up and said, “now this is music. This is real music, not like the awful stuff they play today.”


“Who is Louis Armstrong?” Asked one of the youth.  


Courtesy of Provincial Archives of Alberta via Unsplash




We are happy to announce our second Anthony and Marcia Baker Scholarship recipient-Serena Mair.


Serena reflects on her childhood "Along the shores of Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth, one of Jamaica’s 14 parishes, the annual parade of art enthusiasts swamps the streets. Huddled together, they anticipate the countless hours of spoken word the literary festival has to offer. Here, I spent my childhood summers obsessing over the complex ideals of poetry whilst attempting to create sandcastles from the rough, exfoliating grains of the parish’s black sand. As the sunshine sought its end and windy, rainy days overtook the island, the words that were once poetic became theatrical, my sandcastle fascination replaced with backstage visits. For months, the back row of chilly theaters was my library, the actors my father directed the characters to their own story, one that would spark mine"


Pertaining to the scholarship:

“I am an incoming honors freshman at Nova Southeastern University double majoring in Medical Humanities and Public Health with an Experiential Leadership minor. As a scholarship recipient within my institution's leadership department and an early admit into the Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine's Master's in Public Health Degree Program, I hold a keen interest in women's health and aim to utilize my writing skills to improve black maternal health to lower mortality rates. I aspire to research in the academia setting to better understand the impact of cultural practices and the gender bias in biomedical sciences on the postpartum conditions of black women. With aspirations to engage in undergraduate women's and public health research, the Anthony and Marcia Baker scholarship allows me the ability to better enhance my collegiate education without the financial constraints of tuition costs. Additionally, as a 2024 recipient, I look forward to giving back to my South Floridian community by starting a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the health and legal support of minority women facing medical malpractice. As a Jamaican poet, the Partners for Youth Foundation opens paths for me to write not from mere fiction and imagination, but to write fonts of change, virtue, and integrity with the quill of justice and the ink of the law.”


We are happy to announce our first 2024 Anthony & Marcia Baker Scholarship recipient.

Iyannah Jones

Iyannah Jones is one of the two  Anthony & Marcia Baker scholarship recipients for 2024 and says "I believe in the power of education and it's abilities to decrease mental health issues and promote understanding and acceptance because knowledge is power. I advocate for integrating mental health into the academic curriculum"


Referring to the scholarship award she says "I am a first generation student coming from a single household family and will be attending an out of state HBCU. Being awarded this scholarship means the world to me because it’s one step closer to not having financial anxiety. I’ve been having doubts about how I will pay for the summer program and then a separate fee for the tuition but after finding out I was awarded this scholarship, I can sleep comfortably" 


Congratulations Iyannah!

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