Category Archives: Profiles

This week on People Profile: Susan Lycett Davis (Author, Professor)

Louise Bennett was born on September 7, 1919 on North Street in Kingston, Jamaica. She was the only child of Augustus Cornelius Bennett, the owner of a bakery in Spanish Town, and Kerene Robinson, a dressmaker. She attended elementary school at Ebenezer and Calabar, continuing to St. Simon’s College and Excelsior College, in Kingston. In 1943 she enrolled at Friends College in Highgate, St Mary where she studied Jamaican folklore. That same year her poetry was first published in the Sunday Gleaner. In 1945 Bennett became the first black student to study at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art after being awarded a scholarship from the British Council.

Miss Lou worked for the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission from 1955 to 1959 and taught folklore and drama at the University of the West Indies. From 1965 to 1982 she produced Miss Lou’s Views, a series of radio monologues, and in 1970 started hosting the children’s television program Ring Ding. Airing until 1982, the show was based on Bennett’s belief that “”de pickney-dem learn de sinting dat belong to dem” (that the children learn about their heritage)”.

Miss Lou wrote several books and poetry in Jamaican Patois, helping to have it recognized as a (“national language”) in its own right. Her work influenced many other writers, including Mutabaruka, to use it in a similar manner. She also released numerous recordings of traditional Jamaican folk music and recordings from her radio and television shows including Jamaican Folk Songs, Children’s Jamaican Songs and Games, Miss Lou’s Views (1967), Listen to Louise (1968), Carifesta Ring Ding (1976), The Honorable Miss Lou. She is credited with giving Harry Belafonte the foundation for his 1956 hit Day-O (The Banana Boat Song) by telling him about the Jamaican folk son Hill and Gully Rider. Bennett lived the last decade of her life in Scarborough, Ontario. She died on July 27, 2006 at the Scarborough Grace Hospital after collapsing at her home.

Our “Modern day Miss Lou” shares similar dreams and aspirations of this cultural giant. Susan Lycett Davis or Dr. Sue, as she is popularly known, appreciate the life and work of Miss Lou so much so that she has studied Miss Lou’s work and is aiming to show the Jamaican language and culture to a wider world and to facilitate its role in shaping Jamaica’s cultural and social landscape post-independence.  

Therefore, this week on People Profile we have as our guest Dr. Susan Lycett Davis.

Dr. C

Welcome to People Profile Dr. Sue. Most people are comparing you to the Jamaican Icon Miss Lou. Could you please tell us who is Dr. Sue and where did this all started?

Susan Lycett Davis

Hi Dr. C, it certainly is a pleasure to speak with you. Once I earned my doctorate people started calling me Dr. Sue (endearment I suppose) and as I shared Ms. Lou pieces and represent Auntie Roachie….they started comparing me to Ms. Lou

Dr. C

Wow, that is indeed a privilege to be compared to such icon. I saw you some time ago all dressed and looking like her as well. What is your fondest memory of Miss Lou?

Susan Lycett Davis

Her encouragement- I had the privilege of meeting her at 10 years of age when I had won an island wide essay competition and was invited to Kings House! She embraced me then and encouraged me to keep writing!

Dr. C

That’s awesome Dr. Sue. I realized that you have had a book signing and launch recently. Could you tell us a little about that?

Susan Lycett Davis

Yes, I recently launched my second book of poems entitled ‘I am Jamaica’!  It is a compilation of poems that speaks specifically to Jamaica’s heritage e.g. It’s flag, it’s heroes, its various festive holidays…because, as I entertain, I like to educate.

The launch was an opportunity to share the pieces with the public.

Dr. C

Well congratulations mi dear! (In Miss Lou’s voice lol). Where would one be able to look at excerpts from your book, poems that you have written, or any other literary work of yours’s?

Susan Lycett Davis

Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com

b

Dr. C

Thank you so much Dr. Sue. i understand that you are a strong advocate for child abuse. Could you shed some light on that journey?

Susan Lycett Davis

My first book (a Table-Top publication) is called ‘Ode to Miss Lou from the Soul of Dr Sue’!!  It comprised 50 poems, for Jamaica’s 50th year of independence and my 50th birthday!  How cool was that? lol

Dr. C

Sounds like a winner to me! lol

Susan Lycett Davis

As a mentor for the youth, I have encountered many Jamaica, UK and USA who have had horrific experiences of sexual abuse.  I also encounter adults dealing with the unresolved effects of their experiences. I too have been a victim, so I advocate for giving a voice to the voiceless. As such I support the NUH GUH DEH campaign out of Jamaica and the Protect them campaign here…to bring awareness and try to stop society pushing this atrocity under the carpet!

My first book speaks to these issues…among other things.

Dr. C

Ok…Who is your role model, and why?

Susan Lycett Davis

You stump me again!!!  There are so many…

Dr. C

Name two…

Susan Lycett Davis

My mother…she’s an encourager, always a friend and confidant and my prayer warrior!

Miss Lou was – I admired her multi-faceted scope in loving & caring for children, entertaining, writing, broadcasting, educating…and flying Jamaica high!

Dr. C

Wonderful…please explain to our readers the differences from your perspective between Dr. Sue, Dr. Davis, and Simple Sue…lol

Susan Lycett Davis

Dr. Sue is the writer, Poet, and entertainer known in the Jamaican community.

Dr. Davis is the Associate Professor, educator, mediator, and professional development facilitator …Simply Susan is Christian, confidant, socialite, life of a party, philanthropist, traveler, auntie to many, and mother to more.

Dr. C

A woman that wears many hats I see!

What do you do for fun Dr. Sue?

Susan Lycett Davis

I live…

I make my life fun…I am passionate about whatever I do!

I ensure I have balance. I work hard…and I play hard too!!!  I live, love and laugh!

Dr. C

What advice did you get that was the most rewarding?

Susan Lycett Davis

As a young adult without knowing for sure what direction I wanted to go in life …my mother advised me to just be a sponge and soak up everything (knowledge, skills and experiences) as they’d all serve me well one day!  Now…I’m understanding and happy I did as she advised!

Dr. C

That was very wise of her. What is one food you wouldn’t want to give up?

Susan Lycett Davis

Egg

Yes…eggs any which way!!! lol

Dr. C

Egg? lol….well, it was said that eggs are the most nutritious food.

If you won a million dollars what would you buy? And please don’t tell me eggs! lol

Susan Lycett Davis

Lol

I would give more than I would buy!

Can’t think…maybe upgrade my car, and secure a nice ‘apartment’, ensure all my ‘sponsored children’ worldwide are given a financial endowment then share balance with family and friends. Sounds like I need 2-3 million..lol.

Dr. C

That’s very noble of you. Who is smarter Breda Anansi or Breda Tocuman?

Susan Lycett Davis

Breda Anansi, him always out smart Tocuma

Dr. C

lol…..Dr.Sue you have been a good sport. Thanks for sharing your time on People Profile. Walk good my friend.

Susan Lycett Davis

It was a pleasure Dr. C, you got me good and proper…was caught off guard with that impromptu interview….but it’s all good!  The subject matter is something/someone I know well. Thanks for the opportunity

 

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