LGBT History Month: Remembering Howard Daly & his contributions

The first post in the LGBT History series for 2010, A Posthumous recognition commemorating the life of Howard Daly the Rastafarian gentleman originally from Guyana who passed away on September 4th 2010 from Complications due to Colon cancer. In the photo above with murdered HIV/AIDS activist Steve Harvey who passed on November 30, 2005

see more on him HERE: LGBT History Month – Steve L Harvey Remembered

The multi-talented Howard Daly

published: Sunday | September 7, 2003 (The Gleaner)

Michael Reckord, Contributor

IT WAS with amazement and delight that, 22 years ago, the multi-talented Guyanese teacher and performer Howard Daly heard about Jamaica’s Cultural Training Centre (the CTC, now the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts).

Four diploma-granting, tertiary level schools of dance, drama, music and art on one compound? Wow!

Daly vowed he would go to Jamaica and take classes in all four disciplines. Ambitious and with the confidence of youth (he was in his early 20s), Daly felt he had the capacity to absorb the training. After all, he had been involved in dance, drama and music for years.

At that time, he said in a recent interview, a typical weekday involved teaching music at a secondary school from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., conducting choir practice until 4:00 p.m., practising on the piano for 40 minutes, napping for exactly five, conducting classes with his dance group (The Swallows) from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., taking dance classes at the National School of Dance until eight and then dashing over to the Theatre Guild of Guyana.

There, for an hour or so, he would teach Movement for Actors, then take regular drama classes until 11:00 p.m. He

would be in bed by midnight and recuperating for a repetition of the activities on the following day.

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

Daly – a choreographer, dancer, pianist/organist, singer, actor and, most recently, personal coach – started performing early. One of his childhood memories, he says, is of himself singing and dancing to an audience on the base of a vat (water tank) in his yard in Georgetown, Guyana.

He was then three years old and had not seen any stage productions. He would not see one until he was seven when, on a visit to New York City and the Radio City Music Hall in the United States (U.S.) one summer, he saw Icecapades.

His performances continued, however, and in fact grew into concerts involving others children when he and his family moved to Timehri. This district, in the ‘bush’ of British Guiana (as it was then), was a British army base.

The concerts were held, Daly said, “under someone’s house”, an allusion to the fact that many houses in the country stand on columns high off the ground. In Timehri, Daly first saw, and started learning from, dance magazines given to his mother by a British soldier at the base.

By the time he was 10, he had started seeing plays at the Theatre Guild, opposite which his grandparents in Georgetown lived. At 10 he started going to school in the capital city and joined the school choir. Chosen to sing in the British Guiana Music Festival he was a favourite to win, but never took part because he was taken by his parents to New York again.

DISTINCTION IN GRADE 1 EXAMS

He started taking music lessons, got a distinction in Grade 1 exams within four months and continued getting distinctions until he reached Grade 5 and had to change teachers. His new teacher taught him to play the organ, with the result that Daly is now the organist at his church, the Temple of Light Church of Religious Science in Kingston.

He also joined the school choir, started acting in school plays and, at 13, began dance classes in Indian Classical Dance with a well-known dance instructor, Philip McClintock who, though Black, had an Indian dance troupe.

About the time he left school, Daly joined the National School of Dance and the Theatre Guild of Guyana. Major plays he acted in with the latter, included Derek Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

His first job after leaving school was teaching music at North Georgetown Secondary School. There he developed a 70-piece school choir and led it into the annual Guyana Music Festival. Daly later took over the school’s dance group.

Dance, music and drama groups to which Daly had links gradually coalesced into a Theatre Guild group, and Daly became director of the Guild’s Dance Company. He held the post for three years, during which time he produced a number of shows.

With one of these he was able to start fulfilling his desire to see the world, performing with the company on Broadway in New York, in Los Angeles in the U.S. and Toronto and Ottawa in Canada. Travelling by bus, he says proudly, “We went through 25 states and three provinces.” He also made another tour of the USA with Chronicle, a Guyanese 42-piece steel orchestra.

In 1981 Daly enrolled at the Jamaica School of Dance. He left in 1985, without formally graduating and having only partially fulfilled his original dream. He did take drama and music electives at the relevant schools at the CTC, but had no classes at the School of Art.

REHEARSAL DIRECTOR

Since then he has joined the L’ACADCO dance company and been rehearsal director for the University Dance Society, working at the latter with Jackie Guy and Joseph Robinson. He has choreographed dances for both groups, as well as for two Father HoLung and Friends productions.

His performance tours continued. With L’ACADCO he went to Cuba five times, Mexico twice; Spain; Guantanamo Bay in Cuba (which he sees as an American base and not part of Cuba), London, England; Ghana; Holland; Japan and Lithuania. In the last named, he says, “We did 42 shows in two months.”

A co-founder of Jamaica AIDS Support (JAS), and a former director, he has used his dance and drama skills in classes and productions to educate viewers about HIV/AIDS. He has also used dance as therapy in his work at the University Hospital Detoxification Unit.

Daly, a deeply spiritual individual, now works mainly as a personal coach, helping his clients to maintain physical, mental and spiritual health. He is a regular solo performer, on the piano and as a singer, at his church.

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Author: GLBTQ Jamaica Moderator

Activist and concerned gay man in Jamaica with over 19 years experience in advocacy and HIV/AIDS prevention work, LGBT DJ since 1996.

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