Gullah Gullah Island
|Gullah Gullah Island|
|Created by||Maria Magdalena Perez
Kathleen Minton Capano
|Theme music composer||Peter Lurye|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Original language(s)||English, introducing Gullah|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||66|
|Executive producer(s)||Maria Perez-Brown
Kathleen Minton Capano
|Camera setup||Videotape; Multi-camera|
|Running time||24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Magnet Productions (season 1)
Perez-Minton Productions, Inc.
|Original release||July 6, 1994– January 9, 1998|
Gullah Gullah Island is an American musical children's television series that was produced by and aired on the Nickelodeon network from 1994-1998. The show starred Ron and Natalie Daise, who also served as the cultural advisors, and was inspired by the Gullah culture of Ron Daise's home of St. Helena Island, South Carolina, part of the Sea Islands.
Origin and development
Ron Daise's book Reminiscences of Sea Island Heritage was published in 1987. He and his New York-born wife, Natalie Daise (née Eldridge), followed by creating and touring with a multimedia show, Sea Island Montage, based on the book as well as stories from oral histories of elderly St. Helena Island residents. After one of their performances, the Daises met with an executive producer from Nickelodeon. Creator Maria Perez-Brown had planned on building a multicultural program featuring a "magical island" and was inspired by the Daises to use the Sea Islands and elements of Gullah culture. Part of Nickelodeon's initiative to broaden its preschool programming, Gullah Gullah Island was the first show of its kind to star an African-American family set in an indigenously black community. The show's originality caused some upfront concerns. "We were apprehensive about naming it 'Gullah Gullah Island'. We wanted to make sure the portrayal was positive and didn't in any way poke fun at the culture or the community," Ron Daise said of creating a show based on an existing culture.
Format and production
Gullah Gullah Island is a sing-a-long half-hour live-action show. The format was part of a 'flexible-thinking' initiative that taught children to make good choices rather than using a rote memorization.
The series revolves around a family headed by Ron and Natalie Daise, playing fictionalized versions of themselves, set on the fictional "Gullah Gullah Island". Additional cast featured the Daise's actual children Simeon and Sara among others, including a full-body puppet tadpole, Binyah Binyah Polliwog ('Binyah' is the Gullah word for 'island native'.) The show was taped and recorded at Nickelodeon Studios in Orlando at Universal Studios Florida, with the show Clarissa Explains It All shot on the same set (interior and exterior). Outdoor shots featured Beaufort, South Carolina and Fripp Island. Charleston, SC was featured in one episode when the family took a trip to the City Market.
Episodes are presented with a unified plot and not separate segments, featuring singing, dancing, learning and encouraging children think about things like taking care of yourself, animals, telling the truth, social skills, and problem solving. The show also highlights the culture and language of Gullah, descendants of former slaves who live on the Sea Islands off South Carolina and Georgia.
Critical reception of the show was consistently positive; both as a children's show and as groundbreaker for African American programming, it was praised for "vividly colored sets, infectious sing-alongs, unique character accents and quirky humor that defined the show and introduced millions of children to an overlooked but centuries-old branch of African American culture." It was described as "a combination summer camp, cheerleading session and music video." The issues, especially with the first season, had to do with show's depiction being unrealistic. "The songs were lively and catchy, the kids were cute and the general theme was unlike other kids' programming," Jenifer Managan of Chicago Tribune wrote. However;
...it stars "perfect" parents, Ron and Natalie Daise, who with their three children (who never fight), neighbors and friends seek to entertain and socially educate kids through a sing-song series. While the show encourages active participation from at-home viewers, the dictionary responses and incomparable energy from the Daises make normal parents look like misfits. Perhaps as the show seasons, the lip-syncing will improve and the characters won't be so picture-perfect.
In 1996, TV Guide named the show one of "10 best children's shows". During its original broadcast, it was Nickelodeon's highest-rating preschool show averaging more 750,000 viewers per episode.
|1995||Parents' Choice Award||DVDs - Home Video||Gullah Gullah Island: Sing Along With Binyah Binyah||Won|
|1996||NAACP Image Award||Outstanding Educational/Informational Youth or Children's Series/Special||Gullah Gullah Island||Nominated|
|1997||NAACP Image Award||Outstanding Educational/Informational Youth or Children's Series/Special||Gullah Gullah Island||Nominated|
|Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Pre-School Children's Series||Kathleen Minton (executive producer), Maria Perez-Brown (executive producer), Diane Fazio (supervising producer), Stephanie N. Jones (coordinating producer)||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Award||Children's Script||Eric Weiner||Look Who's Balking||Nominated|
|1998||NAACP Image Award||Outstanding Educational/Informational Youth or Children's Series/Special||The Christmas Special||Nominated|
|Outstanding Performance in a Youth or Children's Series/Special||Ron Daise, Natalie Daise||The Christmas Special||Nominated|
|2000||NAACP Image Award||Outstanding Educational/Informational Youth or Children's Series/Special||Gullah Gullah Island||Nominated|
The show ran for 4 seasons from 1994–1998, with a total of 66 episodes. Several special home video releases accompanied the original broadcast, including: Binyah Binyah's Surprise (1994), Gullah Gullah Island: Play Along With Binyah and Friends (1994), Gullah Gullah Island - Dance Along with the Daise Family (1997), and Gullah Gullah Island Christmas (1998).
Reruns of Gullah Gullah Island aired on Noggin (now Nick Jr.) from February 2, 1999-April 2004 and again from 2008–January 1, 2012. The series began airing in reruns on BET and Centric on April 16, 2012.
Home videos of the show were released on VHS format by Sony Wonder from 1995-1996 and later by Paramount from 1996-1998. As of February 7, 2012, every season of the series is being released to DVD through Amazon.com's MOD (Make On Demand) program. Nickelodeon licensed a series of children's books, musical cassettes and "Binyah Binyah Polliwog" plush animals.
Vanessa Baden, James Edward Coleman III, Ron Daise, and Natalie Daise - Themselves
- Manolo Villaverde - Abuelo
- Iris Chacón - Ms. Juana
- Pixee Wales - Grandma Pixee
- Mike Walker - Ranger Mike
- Corey Hayes - Himself
- Simeon Othello Daise - Himself
- Shaina M. Freeman - Herself (1994–1996)
- Tristin Mays - Shaina (1997)
- Cristian Sola - Miguel (1997)
- Sara Makeba Daise - Sara (1994–1997)
Mia Barrington, Gregory Davis II - Themselves
- Armando Guerra - Armando (1994–1997)
- Philip D. Garcia - Binyah Binyah (1994–1996) (Notice: Philip Garcia was killed in a car accident in 1996, which is why Justin Campbell had the role of Binyah Binyah for the 3rd season)
- Justin Campbell - Binyah Binyah (1996–1998)
- Ana Christina Randolph - Marisol
Bryan Nguyen, Jessica Gorski - Themselves
- James J. Kroupa - Chansome
- Hillary Hawkins - (Singing Voice of Vanessa)
Season 1: 1994-1995
|03||"The Binyah Binyah Polliwog Show"|
|04||"Gullah Gullah Island Day"|
|06||"Yes I Can"|
|07||"Rain, Rain Go Away"|
|10||"James Treasure Box"|
|11||"James' Please Don't Eat the Alstons"|
|14||"The Green Show"|
|15||"The School Show"|
|17||"Rhythm & Rhyme All the Time"|
Season 2: 1995-1996
|18||"Let the Games Begin"|
|19||"Friendship-Just the Perfect Blendship"|
|21||"Taking Care of Business"|
|23||"Look Who's Balking"|
|24||"Move Your Body"|
|25||"My Favorite Things"|
|27||"Armando's New Home"|
|28||"Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most"|
|29||"Whose Friend Are You Anyway?"|
|30||"Gullah Gullah Ghoul-Land"|
|31||"Things that Go Bump in the Night"|
|32||"The Pet Show"|
|33||"The Ego That Ate GGI"|
|34||"The Talent Show"|
|35||"Grandmas and Grandpas"|
|36||"Get Out of My Hair"|
|38||"Mercy Mercy Me"|
|39||"Miss Ella Mae Breadsticks"|
Season 3: 1996-1997
|37||"What's Up with Jobs?"|
|38||"Away All Boats"|
|39||"How You Sound"|
|40||"The Gullah Gullah Games"|
|41||"Chansome's Big Surprises"|
|42||"A Day at the Beach"|
|43||"Binyah Binyah's Parade"|
|44||"Animal See, Animal Do"|
|45||"Food, Glorious Food"|
|46||"Home Alone With Grandma"|
|47||"Fixing A Hurt"|
Season 4: 1997-1998
|51||"The Mighty Cootas"|
|53||"Here Come the Hatchlings"|
|54||"Binyah the Barbarian"|
|57||"Stray Dog Blues"|
|58||"James' New Buddy"|
|59||"The Hottest Day of the Year"|
|60||"A Barrel of Laughs"|
|61||"Binyah Goes to School"|
|62||"A Gullah Gullah Christmas"|
|63||"Big and Small"|
|64||"The Big Sleepover"|
|65||"Lightning is Frightening"|
- Gullah Gullah Island Episodes 1994, TV Show. "Gullah Gullah Island (70)". TV Guide. © 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- deVere, Paul (September 2008). "Ron and Natalie Daise: A Conversation". CH2 (Celebrate Hilton Head Magazine). Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- National Park Service, US Department of the Interior. "Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor FL,GA,NC,SC". National Park Service: Management. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
- Daise, Ronald (1987). Reminiscences of Sea Island Heritage. Orangeburg, SC: Sandlapper Publishing Company, Incorporated. p. 103. ISBN 087844081X. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
- McClure, Greg (April 30, 2013). "Gullah stories, songs featured in BCC presentation at Fowler Hall". Purdue University. Purdue News. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
Ron and Natalie Daise starred in and served as cultural consultants for the "Gullah Gullah Island" television show on Nick Jr. from 1994-98. It was named one of the 10 best children's shows by TV Guide in 1996 and in 1997 was nominated for a daytime Emmy in the preschool series category. The show was nominated twice for the NAACP Image Award and won two Parent's Choice Awards. Ron, a native of St. Helena Island, S.C., and Natalie Daise have been performing together since 1983 and were married in 1985. They then began touring with their show, Sea Island Montage, based on Ron's book Reminiscences of Sea Island Heritage, in 1986. The performances were based on stories from oral histories of elderly St. Helena Island residents.
- Cooperstein, Natalie (May 25, 2013). "Natalie Daise Reveals What it Takes to Become Harriet Tubman" (SPOLETO). Evening Post Industries company. The Post and Courier. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
Daise: I was already a storyteller before the show. My husband had written a book about Gullah culture called “Reminiscences of Sea Island Heritage.” He interviewed a lot of the elders on St. Helena Island and I brought those stories to the stage. At one performance, we met an executive producer from Nick and she said, “We could do a show with you guys!” I was pregnant with my second baby at the time and we shot the show in Orlando until he was five.
- Spivack, Elena (February 27, 2014). "Author, actor shares Gullah songs, stories at Gund". The Collegian of Kenyon College. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
Daise managed to bring Gullah culture to children’s television with Gullah Gullah Island, which ran from 1994 to 1997 and was the first children’s programming to feature an African-American family. “Somehow — this has been misreported every time — this was not our [intention],” Daise said. He said that, by chance, he lunched with a producer who was visiting a prominent writer on St. Helena Island. For three days after, the producer stayed in Daise’s home, observing him and his family. “That show is our life, but we did not create it,” he said.
- McCormick, Moira (April 25, 1995). "Nick Jr.'s Preschool Lineup Debuts on "Gullah Gullah"". Billboard Magazine. pp. 77–78. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
- RUIZ PATTON, Susan (April 24, 1998). "`Gullah' Coming To Fest * Nickelodeon Show Will Be Part Of Asa Packer Series.". The Morning Call (LeHigh Valley). Retrieved 7 June 2014.
The tour brings Ron and Natalie and their huge yellow pre-school frog friend, Binyah Binyah Pollywog, directly to fans of "Gullah Gullah Island." (For the uninitiated, the program teaches about helping people and enjoying life while it celebrates the rich cultural and linguistic heritage of the Gullah people, originally West African slaves whose descendants still live in the coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia.) Going on the road was old hat for Ron and Natalie, who, before "Gullah Gullah Island," traveled the country for a decade performing "Sea Island Montage," a two-person show featuring the songs and stories of the Gullah people. Ron said that he and Natalie aren't terribly disappointed they won't be making any more "Gullah Gullah Island" shows. After all, he said, they have shot four seasons of shows already, a year more than Nickelodeon's standard three-year production for successful pre-school shows. There may be some specials. And they know the show will inspire generations of pre-schoolers to come through syndication.
- Brown, Carolyn (February 1996). "The Promise Of Programming". Earl G. Graves, Ltd. Black Enterprise. p. 172. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- Managan, Jenifer (April 25, 1996). "Gullah-baloo Preschoolers And Their Moms Are Crazy For `Gullah Gullah Island'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
Ron and Natalie live in a Buford County, S.C., a Gullah community, with their two children Simeon, 2, and Sara, 5, who also are cast members of "Gullah Gullah Island."The recipient of two Parents' Choice Awards, "Gullah Gullah Island" is more than just playful entertainment for preschoolers. The series revolves around an African-American family--the first in preschool television--and it celebrates the real-life culture and language of Gullah, descendents of former slaves who live on the Sea Islands off South Carolina and Georgia. Ron, who grew up on St. Helena Island as a native Gullah, wrote a book titled "Reminiscences of Sea Island Heritage" that included a collection of islander memoirs and spirituals. He and Natalie toured the country performing original productions of songs and stories depicting Gullah legends and lore, which eventually spawned the TV series. "We were apprehensive about naming it `Gullah Gullah Island,' " Ron said. "We wanted to make sure the portrayal was positive and didn't in any way poke fun at the culture or the community.
- Managan, Jennifer (October 19, 1994). "Think For Yourself New Nick Shows Stress Reasoning Over Memorization". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
"Gullah Gullah Island." The shows are part of a reported $30 million initiative to expand Nick Jr., the cable network's preschool block (8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) weekdays and to promote "flexible thinking," an approach the network says encourages kids to think on their own when making choices rather than using rote memorization.
- Hendry, Erica (March 2011). "Holding on to Gullah Culture A Smithsonian curator visits a Georgia island to find stories of a shrinking community that has clung to its African traditions". Smithsonian.org. Smithsonian Magazine.
Bailey drove Amos around the island in a boxy utility van, pointing out houses and fields and slipping into island dialect: binya is a native islander, comya is a visitor. r
- On TV (July 7, 1996). "Polliwog Helps Bring Gullah Culture To Life". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
Gullah Gullah Island, the first preschool show centered on a black family, is the network's top-rated live action preschool show with an estimated 767,000 children between ages 2 and 5 watching daily.The Daises live in nearby Beaufort with their children, 6-year-old Sara and 3-year-old Simeon, who are both in the cast. The show's rising popularity has forced them to get an unlisted number, but fans and their parents still seem to find their way to the Daises' doorstep. Since last fall, the network has licensed a series of children's books, videos, CDs and cassettes. The first of the Binyah Binyah Polliwog plush animals hit the stores in April. The children in the cast are consulted about the dancing and dialogue in the show. "We use `kiddieography' instead of choreography," said choreographer Ken Grant as he watched Vinson take another angle on the beach. The cast, which includes three child actors in addition to the Daises' two children, tapes exteriors for about three weeks each year near Beaufort. The interior scenes are shot at the Nickelodeon studios in Orlando.
- "Nick Kids Random Facts". NickKids.net. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
Random fact: the house on Gullah Gullah Island and the house on Clarissa Explains It All were the same house.
- Suhay, Lisa (October 2, 2013). "Real-life 'Gullah Gullah Island' in danger The real life residents of former Nickelodeon television series, 'Gullah Gullah Island' are in danger of losing their island to developers, presenting a rare opportunity for families to connect childhood memories with current events.". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
Granted, the Gullah Gullah Island show is long gone, having run from 1994-1997, but the lessons it taught our kids on healthy eating, telling the truth, and problem solving are worth revisiting today. We can use this news item as an opportunity to talk to our kids about problem solving and how the real life residents on this island may need help solving this problem. Reading the news I realized that every day the news gives us a chance to work a “flash challenge” with our kids. It’s worth saving and by extension so is this real world Gullah Island community. Granted, the Nickelodeon show was filmed on the more touristy Fripp Island, Ga., but the cultural base for the show was all Sapelo.
- Amazon DVD. "Gullah Gullah Island, Charleston Market". Amazon.com. Amazon.com. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
- Duckett, Jody (August 2, 1998). "Imaginations Can Visit `Gullah Gullah Island'". The Morning Call. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
The tour brings Ron and Natalie and their huge yellow pre-school frog friend, Binyah Binyah Pollywog, directly to fans of "Gullah Gullah Island." (For the uninitiated, the program teaches about helping people and enjoying life while it celebrates the rich cultural and linguistic heritage of the Gullah people, originally West African slaves whose descendants still live in the coastal areas of South Carolina and Georgia.) There will be familiar songs and stories and children will be encouraged to participate. But Ron doesn't want to say too much about the theme of the low-tech touring show. "It's to encourage the children to use their imaginations to pretend," is all he will say. "I'd like it to be a surprise for the audience." A big difference between the television show and the touring show is there's a lot less dialogue without the presence of the show's close-knit "family" of three children and relatives and friends. The Daises' own children, Simeon, 4, and Sara, 7, both act on the television show. The touring show started as a 30-minute live gig at bookstores and malls. It was called "Nick Jr. Story and Song Play Along." The crowds were so large that in January, Nickelodeon launched an 1-1/2-hour show for larger venues. Going on the road was old hat for Ron and Natalie, who, before "Gullah Gullah Island," traveled the country for a decade performing "Sea Island Montage," a two-person show featuring the songs and stories of the Gullah people. They also have toured extensively to promote their independently produced books and records, including Ron's children's book "Little Muddy Waters: A Gullah Folk Tale" and the recently released recording "Sleep Tight: Lullabies & Night-Night Stories." Ron said that he and Natalie aren't terribly disappointed they won't be making any more "Gullah Gullah Island" shows. After all, he said, they have shot four seasons of shows already, a year more than Nickelodeon's standard three-year production for successful pre-school shows. There may be some specials. And they know the show will inspire generations of pre-schoolers to come through syndication.
- Smith, Bruce (AP Writer) (June 6, 1996). "GaGa over Gullah". Freelance-Star. Associated Press. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- "Polliwog Helps Bring Gullah Culture To Life". Sun Sentinel. Features. July 7, 1996. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- "Gullah, Gullah Island (1994–1998) Awards". IMDB. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- Parent's Choice http://www.parents-choice.org/product.cfm?product_id=4773&StepNum=1&award=aw. Retrieved 8 June 2014. Missing or empty
- "NAACP Awards & Winners". NAACP IMAGE AWARDS. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
- http://awardsandwinners.com/category/daytime-emmy-award/1997/#sthash.7zWUpWv5.dpuf. Missing or empty
- "Binyah's Surprise". Amazon.com. November 5, 1997. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
- "Gullah Gullah Island: Play Along With Binyah and Friends". Amazon.com. November 5, 1997. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
- "Gullah Gullah Island - Dance Along with the Daise Family". Amazon.com. November 5, 1997. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
- "Gullah Gullah Island Christmas". Amazon.com. Paramount. September 8, 1998. Retrieved 7 June 2014.
- "Gullah, Gullah Island DVD news: Announcement for Gullah, Gullah Island". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2013-02-06.