In 1953 she moved to New York where she worked with Eric Coverley on a musical entitled Day In Jamaica and they toured New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. In 1954 Coverley and Louise Bennett were married and they returned to Jamaica where Louise worked for the Jamaica Social Welfare Commission for four years.
Miss Lou and husband Eric Coverley dedicated their lives to the Jamaican Language and culture. It was always their goal for the mother tongue of Jamaica to be recognized and received as an official language that was blended and influenced by many other languages threw slavery but unique and special to Jamaica.
Her most influential recording of Jamaican Folk Songs is probably her 1954 rendition of the Jamaican traditional song “Day Dah Light”, which was recorded by Harry Belafonte as “Day-O”, also known as the “Banana Boat Song”, in 1955 on a Tony Scott arrangement with additional lyrics. Belafonte based his version on Bennett’s recording. The Louise Bennett version of “Day O” is available and documented in both French and English on the Jamaica – Mento 1951-1958 album. Belafonte’s famous version was one of the 1950s’ biggest hit records, leading to the very first gold record.
Louise Bennett’s many recordings are: Jamaica Singing Games (1953), Jamaican Folk Songs (Folkways Records, 1954), Children’s Jamaican Songs and Games (Folkways, 1957), radio monologues known as Miss Lou’s Views (1966-1967), Listen to Louise (1968), Carifesta Ring Ding (1976), The Honorable Miss Lou, (1981), Miss Lou Live-London (1983) and Yes M’ Dear(Island Records). She also hosted a weekly children’s television show, Ring Ding (1970–82). In 1986, she appeared as Portia in the comedy film Club Paradise, starring Robin Williams, Jimmy Cliff and Peter O’Toole.
She wrote her poems in the language of the people known as Jamaican Patois and helped to put this language on the map and to have it recognized as a language (“nation language”) in its own right, thus influencing many other poets.
Louise Bennett married Eric Winston Coverley on 30 May 1954 and has one son, Fabian Coverley. She died 26 July 2006 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she had resided for the last decade of her life. “Louise Bennett-Coverley, 1919-2006”.
The Queen Mother of Jamaican Culture which Miss Lou is often referred.
In 1960, Louise Bennett was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for her work in Jamaican literature and theatre. In 1974, she was appointed to the Order of Jamaica.. The Jamaican government also appointed her Cultural Ambassador at Large for Jamaica. Among numerous other awards, she received the Institute of Jamaica’s Musgrave Silver and Gold Medals for eminence in the field of Arts and Culture, the Norman Manley Award for Excellence (in the field of Arts), an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of the West Indies.
On Jamaica’s Independence Day in 2001, the Honourable Mrs. Louise Bennett-Coverley was appointed as a Member of the Jamaican Order of Merit for her invaluable and distinguished contribution to the development of the Arts and Culture.
In honour of Miss Lou and her achievements, Harbourfront Centre, a non-profit cultural organization in Toronto, Canada, named a venue after her as Miss Lou’s Room.
In 1998 she received the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters from York University, Toronto, Canada. The Jamaican Government also appointed her Cultural Ambassador at Large for Jamaica. On Jamaica’s Independence Day 2001, Bennett-Coverley was appointed as a Member of the Order of Merit for her distinguished contribution to the development of the Arts and Culture. Ms. Lou was truly a Jamaican icon.
Miss Lou’s statue unveiling was attended by many of locals, government officials, and visitors local and abroad who crowded into Gordon Town Square in St. Andre on Friday, September 7, 2018, to pay tribute to the cultural icon. The following year on her Birthday the Square was renamed to The Miss Lou Square.
- Ralston Milton "Rex" Nettleford, OM, FIJ, OCC
- Professor The Hon. Mervyn Morris, OM
- Andrew Michael Holness, ON PC
Prime Minister of Jamaica