The following is a biographic profile of Lila ‘Leela’ Genus Vernon (1897-1975):
- Dubbed the ‘Queen of Brokdong’, Lila Genus Vernon was raised in Punta Gorda Town to a family who was proud of their African and Maya heritage.
- Her music and activism throughout her lifetime have been dedicated to the promotion of the Belize Creole culture.
- Lila sings ‘Buru’ style Brokdong, a style which is believed to have originated in southern Belize in communities like Monkey River Village.
- In 1987, she established the Ebolites Dance Group. This brought young people together to train and showcase their Kriol culture, particularly through music and dance.
- In 1994, Lila performed for Queen Elizabeth II upon her visit to Punta Gorda, and was appointed a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE).
- Lila has performed internationally both as a solo artist and as a member of the Ebolites in places such as the Manhattan Center in New York and at the Afro-Caribbean Festival in Veracruz, Mexico.
- Lila and her daughter Juliette Vernon Austin, along with Mr. Percival Neal, joined forces to establish the first branch of the National Kriol Council in Punta Gorda Town, which was later expanded to a National Council in Belize City.
- Lila’s activism in the National Kriol Council led her to serve in various capacities including as President, Vice-President, and Cultural Liaison.
- Her most recognized song is ‘Ah Waahn Noa Hoo Seh Kriol Noh Ga No Kolcha!’ which was released in 2001. This song has been adopted as the anthem and mantra especially for persons of Creole descent.
- Other popular Lila Vernon songs include ‘Welcome to Belize’ and ‘Ding Ding Wala’.
- In 2004, she was chosen as the Brokdong Artist of the Year by the Institute of Creative Arts.
- Lila Vernon was the recipient of the Culture Woman of the Year Award from the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) in June of 2011.
- Lila was a cultural icon, a voice for the promotion and safeguarding of Creole culture in Belize.
- Lila passed away on 19 February, 2017.
Information & Photos Courtesy: The National Heritage Library, Belize Archives Records and Services, and ISCR/NICH
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