October 19, 2020

Cayman Islands Premier announces death of Julia Hydes/ Acting Governor’s statement

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Aunt-Julia-receives heroes Day 2014Statement on death of
By Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin, MBE, JP, MLA
30 November, 2015

It is with deep regret and sadness that I mark the passing of Aunt Julia Almeria Hydes this morning.
We have truly lost a national treasure and a national icon in the Cayman Islands.
I fondly recall her 106th birthday party at the Harquail Theatre earlier this year when friends, family members and well-wishers gathered to help her celebrate. I was so hoping to help her celebrate her 107th birthday in a few weeks.
Aunt Julia was born the youngest of 12 children on 25 January, 1909, in West Bay where she lived her entire life.
What I will always remember about Aunt Julia was her drum playing and singing praises to God. Her drumming came intuitively after her cousin, master fiddler Leighton “Duxie” Ebanks, handed her a pair of drum sticks made out of guava wood. I remember in an interview she gave a while back that she said she felt a great sense of joy when she held those sticks. She never took lessons, just watched, paid attention and made up her own style of drumming.
With the passing of Aunt Julia we have lost the last living member of the traditional Caymanian music fraternity. I am sure she is now in heaven joining in a Kitchen Band and playing her drums and singing with Duxie, , Radley Gourzong, Cleveland Ebanks, Montgomery Albert and Reid Green.
Aunt Julia touched many, many lives over her years in Cayman. She also received many, many awards for her contributions to music and culture in the Cayman Islands, including the Cayman National Cultural Foundation Award for pioneering work in cultural heritage as well as the Certificate and Badge of Honour. Personally, I am proud to have known her.
To recognise the great loss to our Country, Cabinet has ordered that the Cayman Islands flag be flown at half-mast today and tomorrow in her honour.
God bless Julia Almeria Hydes. May she rest in peace.

Acting Governor Franz Manderson’s Statement on the Death of Aunt Julia Hydes

It was with great sadness that I heard of the death of Julia Almeria Hydes today.

‘Aunt Julia’, as she was known by us all, had, in her 106 years, become one of Cayman’s most beloved icons. The contribution she has made to Caymanian culture and history cannot be overstated. It is this cultural heritage which forms the foundations of Caymanian society today and we must not forget that, or those who built it.

Aunt Julia was a singer, a songwriter, and famously, a drummer. She was a pioneer of Caymanian folk music and was duly recognised in the National Heroes Day celebrations 2014 with an Early Pioneers Award, and also in 1996 when she was presented with the Cayman Islands Certificate and Badge of Honour.

Aunt Julia’s music continues to provide inspiration to our young musicians and artists and I know that the Cayman Islands folk singers will continue to take forward her legacy, through performing her much loved songs.

I offer my condolences to Aunt Julia’s family. Our thoughts are with you all.

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