February 21, 2012
Sorrow and joy in the music world

Tue, Feb 21, 2012

Last weekend, music lovers had two very contrasting experiences. Following the tragic death of superstar Whitney Houston one week before, a spiritually uplifting funeral service was held in her hometown, and ‘home church’ in Newark, New Jersey, USA.{{more}}

Though attendance was restricted to family and close friends, millions of her fans and the global community were able to pay tribute to her life, via television coverage, courtesy the different television networks.

What a touching experience this turned out to be, as the tributes rang out in song and moving testimony. She was clearly not only revered for her musical genius, but was loved as a person by those who knew her best. It was a sad end to a glittering career.

Saturday’s church service was a fitting tribute to a life of achievement. The tally of her accomplishments runs into many chapters, but suffice it to say that in 2009, the GUINNESS Book of Records named Whitney Houston as “the most awarded female artiste of all time”, and her incomparable voice made her one of the best-selling global music artistes with over 170 million albums and music videos sold. It was not just pure coincidence, as the line-up of her talented relatives including godmother Aretha Franklyn, cousins Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick, and an outstanding Gospel singer in mother Cissy Houston could testify.

Yet, at the end, one could only reflect on how much more she could have accomplished. Whitney, like many other artistes, had her share of problems as life “in the fast lane” took its toll. She fell, as several other black superstars before her, in not too honourable circumstances. It was not too long ago that we were mourning the loss of another black icon, Michael Jackson. Almost three decades ago, 1984, it was Marvin Gaye, shot dead by his father, and twenty years before that, Sam Cooke was also shot dead in a motel. This tragic end to the meteoric careers of such black icons has many lessons for us.


On a brighter note, it must be heartening to note the response of Vincentian soca lovers and party people to the renewed attempt to bring soca glory to this little, but lovely land of ours, in the International Soca Monarch competition in Trinidad last Friday night.

This time, our standard-bearer was Delroy ‘Fireman’ Hooper, our 2011 national soca monarch. Thousands followed his effort, at home, in bars, entertainment centres and at the ‘big-screen’ broadcast at the Calliaqua Playing Field, all wishing nothing but the very best. ‘Fireman’ may not have won, but his performance, like that of ‘Skinny Fabulous’ last year, demonstrates that we have the talent to compete with any.

If we wanted further assurance, the pages of SEARCHLIGHT last Friday, provided the evidence. Two other local gems, Shernelle ‘Skarpyon’ Williams and Andy Cruickshank took Cuba by storm, and more was to come in the form of top-notch pannists such as Reajhuan Baptiste, Kingsley ‘Hero’ Roberts and the young Saeed Bowman.

At a time when traditional openings are being closed to us, and with the possibilities of the Economic Partnership Agreement with Europe, we urge our young and talented to take note and put themselves in a position to bring benefit to self, family and country by maximising those talents.