Montserrat

 

In 1992, the government of Montserrat, a British colony in the Caribbean, started a competition for a national song. Various entries were submitted, but no winner was ever officially proclaimed by the government. (One of the entries, “Montserrat My Country” by Denzil Edgecombe was even used in sporting events and local ceremonies and was mentioned in a local paper as the winner, a few days before a volcanic eruption in 1995 forced the evacuation of the capital city, but was not announced by the government as the winner.) A major volcanic eruption in 1997 which buried half the island in volcanic ash put the national song contest on indefinite hold, and national songs were used less and less on the island.

Finally, in 2013, the government of Montserrat restarted the contest by opening up the contest again to submissions, and five entries (none of which were “Montserrat My Country”) were put up for consideration for the people both in Montserrat and the evacuated citizens around the world who did not return to vote on, culminating in a song showcase on July 27. The winner, “Motherland”, was proclaimed two days later. The song was written by Sir Howard Fergus, one of Montserrat’s former governors, and composed by Dr. George Irish, a Caribbean studies lecturer based in New York. The song makes reference to Montserrat culture and history. The song is used as a local anthem, used in sporting events and local ceremonies, while the national anthem of the island remains “God Save the Queen”.

Special thanks to: Denzil Edgecombe and Alex Marshall for providing some of this information.