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Remembering The Mother Theresa Of Reggae

Sister of Mercy. Jamaican. Sound system operator. Mother to hundreds of youth who benefited from her care. Sister Ignatius passed away Feb 9, 2003.

Sister Mary Ignatius (1921-2003) was born Marjorie Davies in Innswood, Saint Catherine Parish. She attended St. Catherine Elementary School and later the Alpha Academy, a girls' high school operated by the Sisters of Mercy. She joined the Sisters of Mercy after graduation and took the name Sister Mary Ignatius. She would spend her entire career at Alpha Boys School. Best known for her work with the music programme, Sister Ignatius was a frequent participant in any form of game or competitive sport including football, cricket, boxing, table tennis and dominoes.

Listen to Sister Ignatius introduce the school song

At the boys' school, Sister Ignatius became the first Jamaican Sister of Mercy to manage the music programme. Although not a music teacher, the students she supervised, including original Skatalites members Tommy McCook, Don Drummond, Lester Sterling and Johnny "Dizzy" Moore as well as trumpeter Edward Thornton, trombonist Rico Rodriguez, drummer Leroy Wallace, reggae icon Johnnie Osbourne and future Alpha Band Master, Sparrow Martin, credit her with their success.

Sister Ignatius was a gifted music administrator and music innovator. She operated the Mutt and Jeff Sound System on weekends, using her extensive record collection in order to demonstrate to students good practices in music performance. These sessions also gave future deejays like Winston Foster and selectors like Ilawi their first experiences around a sound system. Sister Ignatius' bold, innovative approach to music education earned her the respect of her students, local band leaders, sound system operators and generations of Jamaican music fans.

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Alpha's130-year tradition of music education has produced jazz innovators, ska pioneers and reggae icons. We are excited to offer a meaningful and innovative music training curriculum to youth today. We need your help to make it possible. Thank you for your support!

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