History of musical performance on Corn Islands

Music on the Corn Islands has a rich history that dates back to British colonization. Back in the day, almost every family on the islands used to possess a musical instrument. However, a lot of these cherished instruments were lost during the devastating hurricane Joan in 1988. It was a significant blow to the island's musical output, as every musical instrument was destroyed, including mandolins, violins, ukuleles, accordions, organs, and guitars.

After the hurricane, the music scene went silent. In the 1960s, there was a prominent band led by a skilled saxophonist named Wilford Downs. They performed lively instrumental music, entertaining various businesses and churches during celebrations like the Catholic festivities on August 27th. Under Father Camilo Doerfler's guidance, the Catholic Church held grand events accompanied by live bands.

In the 1970s, a new generation of young musicians emerged, inspired by the island's musical heritage running through their veins. One of the popular groups during this time was called Tropical. They were followed by another band called Black Sheep, which enjoyed a successful decade-long run. Music was easily accessible, and many families formed their own bands. In the 1980s, the children of musician Vertic Hodgson and Melvina Downs created a band called Children of Tomorrow. The Children of Tomorrow band thrived until 1988 when the hurricane struck, destroying everything on the islands, including instruments. 

During the 80s, a new wave of music influenced by Puerto Rican culture, merengue, and some salsa took hold. American and British music became popular as well, with bands like the Commodores, The Eagles, Chicago, and The Beatles gaining widespread recognition. The Black Sheep band played a pivotal role in introducing these musical genres to the islanders.

The influence of Western music started when people from the islands went to work in Panama after the construction of the Panama Canal began in the 1900s. Upon their return, they brought back record players known as tocadisco, which gradually replaced small music devices. Jukeboxes became prevalent in various businesses, allowing people to enjoy a wide selection of songs. In the 1980s, Spanish music gained popularity and the band Children of Tomorrow covered many of these Spanish songs.

Determined to pass on the musical tradition to the next generation, Mr. Charles “Chaleco” Hodgson, who was part of Children of Tomorrow along with his siblings, formed a new band in 2009 called Island Stars. His focus was to teach music to children and teens, between 12 and 20 years, who showed interest in learning. With Mayor Cleveland Webster's support and donations from locals living abroad, musical equipment was acquired, including a sound system to amplify the bad performances. The band also received collaboration from UNESCO and played until 2012, becoming well-known in Corn Island, Leon, and Bluefields.

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