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Guide to the Listen to This: Crown Heights Oral History collection 2010.020

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Brooklyn Historical Society

Collection processed by Brett Dion

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on May 22, 2017
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Container List

Guthrie, Douglas, 2010 May 3

Biographical / Historical

Douglas Guthrie was born in 1950 in Jamaica and, along with a brother and sister, was raised there by his parents. In the early 1960s his mother immigrated to England and because of that split between his parents, Guthrie was shipped to a boarding school. One of a few musicians in the family, he studied music on a scholarship and co-founded the reggae group Inner Circle. He was on tour as an alto saxophone player with that band in the early 1970s when he first saw America. He joined the punk band The Nails in 1972. He moved to Crown Heights in 1975, sharing a home with his first wife, his mother-in-law and a brother. After twelve years, when the couple had their first child, they moved to Flatbush and later, Canarsie, to make more room at home. Divorced, Guthrie returned to Crown Heights in 1998. By this time he had moved on to composing and performing with reggae, ska and dub band the Motives, and continued with them until 2000. In 2010, Guthrie had adult children, a fiancé and a little girl. In 2011, he released a solo album, "Dougie Guthrie: Melody Maker."

Scope and Contents

Douglas Guthrie begins the interview by explaining the moves he's made while living in Brooklyn. He recalls his arrival from Jamaica as a touring musician and his first impressions of Brooklyn's diverse Crown Heights neighborhood. Guthrie notes that Eastern Parkway splits the community geographically, but culturally as well. He describes his somewhat tumultuous childhood, focusing on music, and life as a musician in Crown Heights. Guthrie feels a need to work through the tension that remained in the community after the uprising in 1991 and discusses community involvement and acting as a peacemaker in social conflicts. He reminisces about his breakthrough in the music business by showing off his album covers and about being a working musician in Crown Heights. Guthrie talks about the West Indian Carnival; first in relation to his daughter's participation, and then by examining the problems and potential improvements that could be applied. He closes by advising young people to establish foundations and structure to excel at life. Interview conducted by Treverlyn Dehaarte, Quanaisha Phillips and Alex Kelly.

Conditions Governing Access and Use

Access to the interview is available onsite at the Brooklyn Historical Society's Othmer Library. Use of the oral histories other than for private study, scholarship, or research requires the permission of BHS. For assistance, contact library@brooklynhistory.org.

Subject Names

  • Guthrie, Douglas

Subject Organizations

  • Inner Circle (Musical group)
  • Nails (Musical group)
  • West Indian American Day Carnival Parade (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • Carnival -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Crime -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Jamaican Americans
  • Jamaicans -- New York (State) -- Kings County
  • Multiculturalism
  • Music education
  • Musicians -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Parades -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Performing arts -- New York (State) -- New York
  • Riots -- New York (State) -- Kings County

Subject Places

  • Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) |x Social life and customs
  • Crown Heights (New York, N.Y.)
  • Eastern Parkway (New York, N.Y.)
  • United States |x Emigration and immigration