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Composed and performed in Bermuda by the late Bermudian Hubert Smith of Bermuda (he died on December 3, 2001).
By Keith Archibald Forbes (see About Us) exclusively for Bermuda Online
Kerri Dietz, mezzo soprano, and Leidy Sinclair, violin.
2017. October 28. A prestigious art award has gone to a new winner after the previous holder was disqualified following claims of plagiarism. Antoine Hunt was given the $2,000 third Judge’s Choice spot in the Charman Prize awards for his work Thirty Two Sixty Four after Scott Stallard’s multimedia Wasted Time was ruled ineligible. Linda Wilde, art lecturer and historian, said Mr Hunt’s work was a “unique and interesting combination of classical materials”. She added: “Antoine’s work is an exciting reflection of the spirit of the people of the island — so full of life, love and creativity.” Mr Stallard’s piece was disqualified because it was not created in the previous two years as outlined in the competition’s rules. But there was also controversy about who created his entry. James Collieson contacted competition organizers to claim the artwork was an altered version of a piece created by his father, Will Collieson, several years earlier. The artist confirmed to The Royal Gazette that he sold his piece, Night Shift, to Mr Stallard about nine years ago. It was exhibited at the Bermuda National Gallery as part of the Bermuda Biennial in 2008. Mr Stallard handed back the cash prize after the controversy surfaced. Tom Butterfield, founder of Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art, said: “The important part is the prize opens up a dialogue in the community and gets away from the diatribe and vitriol by understanding what the Charman Prize has set out to do.” He added: “By and large, the response to the Charman Prize in the community is overwhelmingly positive and that’s exactly how it should be. We are delighted of the quality of work this year. The idea is that artists submit fresh work from one prize year to the next.” Mr Butterfield said the competition brought the community together through art. He said: “On opening night we welcomed 500 people from all walks of life, all hues and colors, and economic backgrounds, and I think this is a really good thing.” The Charman Prize was established by island businessman John Charman. Nearly 120 works were entered in this year’s competition, which is held every two years. The competition is open to artists based in Bermuda and Bermudians living overseas.
2017. October 24. Bermuda’s “artistic giants” were celebrated at the Arts Council’s Annual Awards Ceremony on Sunday. The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to six artists who created an original body of art that represented the “Bermudian spirit”. And the Founders Award was presented to three artists who have been mentors and role models for their fellow artists and the generations to follow. Zane DeSilva, the Minister of Social Development and Sport, said: “Their works have not only left indelible markings on Bermuda’s artistic and cultural landscape, but such contributions have literally transformed the arts in our island home. Our lives have been enriched and for that we are most grateful.” Mr DeSilva said the ceremony paid homage to “these artistic giants” and “each of the honorees has infused ‘life’ and ‘vibrancy’ for all to enjoy, be inspired by, and uplifted”. He added: “The recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award and the Founders Award have caused the arts to flourish in Bermuda. Their passion for the arts, and their unfailing commitment to the development of the arts has been monumental; at times involving much sacrifice and always requiring dedication and unwavering determination. The Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to those persons who are considered pioneers in their respective art form and because they would have created significant bodies of original work that is representative of the Bermudian spirit.” The award went to author Angela Barry, dance teacher Linda Manders, visual artists Vaughn and Amy Evans, art educator Olga Simons, and Jean Hannant, who received the award posthumously for theatre. Mr DeSilva added that the Founder’s Award was created by the Bermuda Arts Council “to be bestowed upon Bermudians considered to be the “cornerstones” upon which the arts in this community have been built”. The award was presented posthumously to Terry Brannon for his work in the music industry, as well as Anne Maule and Peter Nash, of the Somerset Lot, for “their impressive contributions to the world of theatre”.
Bermudian, Bermuda-born or domiciled. They include:
Michael Douglas and his wife Catherine Zeta-Edwards
Daren A Herbert
They include the:
Bermuda Strollers, see above
First Salvation Army Young People's Band, mid 1930s
Non-profit. Dedicated to raising the standard of excellence in dance through world-class training. Bermuda's oldest dance organization. It was formed in 1962 by Madame Patricia Gray, MBE with the support of Madame Ana Roje, and since that time hundreds, if not thousands, of students have reaped the benefit of their vision, and the Association's unwavering dedication to dance. Amalgamated in 2005 with the National Dance Foundation of Bermuda (NDFB).
Brings the choral arts to life in our community. Through performances of great composers such as Bach, Handel, Mozart, Brahms and many more the ensemble strives for a high standard of communicating the masterworks of choral orchestral repertory. It meets weekly at the Bermuda School of Music. New members are welcome.
Formed 1972. Founded by Patricia Deane-Gray to foster interest in ballet and to provide a medium through which all persons so interested may participate by dancing or otherwise in the production of shows. Members have mounted a series of ambitious and well-received performances.
Voice Mail: (441) 291-0138. The trade group in Bermuda to which all those shown above belong. All enquiries about individual musicians should be referred to this group.
Seasonal, annually, January and February.
Founded in 2008 as part of the annual arts festival's 2009 gala celebration of Bermuda's 400th anniversary, BFCO members are drawn from a cross-section of resident musicians, many of them teachers, who welcome the opportunity to interact with fellow musicians at a non-teaching level, hone their performance skills, and master a challenging new repertoire. Members have included Kerri-Lynne Dietz, Mezzo soprano,Bermudian; Kent Hayward, French Horn, Bermudian; Ryan Ellis, Conductor; Oliver Grant, Piano, British. Students are also invited to play.
For details of all those below, please refer to the Bermuda Federation of Musicians and Variety Artists.
Larritta Adderley; Jon Armstrong; Toni Bari; Bobby Barton; Clarence (Tootsie) Bean; Gary Bean; Graham Bean and the Latinaires; Moira Bean; Harry Bean; JudyAnn Bean; Sydney Bean; Sydney Bean (died March 2000); Joe (Conchshell) Benjamin (who left Bermuda to live in the United Kingdom and became a well-known activist, preacher and singer); Rob Berry; Gita Blakeney; Carl Borde (who spent many years in Bermuda with the Esso Steel Band and died in Massachusetts in 2002); Kieran Bradshaw; Alvin (Hambone) Brangman; Charles Ambrose Brangman; Tony Brannon; Collie Buddz; Duane Bulford; Tina Burgess; Dr. Gary Burgess; Ghandi Burgess; Quinton (Tiny) Burgess; Bryan Butterfield; Sandy Butterfield; Dale Butler; Violetta Carmichael; Bishop Caines; Bill Caisey; multi-percussionist Keith Caisey and his Brazilian wife Clara; Bishop Caines; Earlston (Duke) Callabras; Earl Cameron; the late Violetta Carmichael; Victor Chambray; Mia Page Chambray; Nick Christopher; the late Michael Clarke; Country Steppers; John Theophilus Clarke; Rudolph Commissiong, Sr; Doris Corbin; Glen Cuoco; Earl Robinson Darrell; Kristen Darrell; Veronica Darrell; Marcus Dagan; Francis Llewellyn Spencer Darrell; Ridgley Darrell; Wayne Davis; Neilson Degraff; Kerri-Lynne Dietz, mezzo soprano; Barrett Dill; Dexter Dillas; Andrew Dobson; Diana Douglas; Steve Dupres; Suzanne Dunkerley; Winston DeGraff (he died in 2003 at the age of only 41); soprano Vivian Deyone Douglas; Steve Easton; Hiram Edwards; Robert Edwards, organist: Dennis Eldridge; late Mrs. Maude Fox (died 1983 at the age of 89, the only female musician in a 13-piece band); Marvin Ford; Laidlaw Fraser-Smith; Jeremy Frith; Candace Furbert; Robert 'Duke' Joell; Gaynor Gallant; "Big Daddy Gates" Donald Galloway; Al Harris; Agatha Catherine Henderson (taught classical piano for 60 years and whose students include many others named here); Jean Howes; Rhona James; Robert Edwards; Robert (Sai) Emery; Rebecca Faulkenberry; Kenneth Sonny Flood; Danny Fox; Dennis Fox; Jay Fox; the late Wilbur Furbert; Olivia Hamilton; Celeste Harris; Kenneth 'Joe' Hayward; Kent Hayward - French Horn, pianist the late Lance Hayward and his quartet; Robert Hayward; Wendell (Shine) Hayward; Daren A. Herbert; reggae singer Biggie Irie; the late Kenny Iris; Kingsley Swan Band; Mairéad Hickey; Robert (Duke) Joell; Will Kempe; Robert Lambe; Randy Lambert; Ronald and Dennis Laws; John Lee; the late Alan Lottimore (died in June 2002); Bandmaster Major Leslie Lowe; Michael King; Cromwell Manders; Aidan McNally; Roddy Marshall; Melvin Martin; Kevin Maybury; Paul Matthews; Stephanie Matthews; Reuben McCoy; Michael McDonough; Glenn Mello; Patrick McDonald (Mac) Mills; Speedy Ming; Ted Ming; Jade Minors; Lawrence Minors; Mishka (brother of singer songwriter Heather Nova); Gary "Lazy Boy" Morris; David Moniz; Dennis Moniz; William Moniz; Andy Newmark; Charles Ebenezer Norford; Heather Nova (born Heather Allison Frith); Jimmy O'Connor; Gene Perry; Erskine Phillips; Joe Pimental; Helena Pipe; Alan Pitman; Ryan Prevost; Peter Profit; Tom Ray (jazz pianist); Howard Rego; Dr. Karol Sue Reddington; Joseph Richards (music teacher); Cyril Richardson; Louise Risby; Celeste Roberts; Vince Roberts; Celeste Spencer Robinson; Milton Robinson; Carl Rodney; Gonsalo Rubalcaba; Frankie Rubain; David Sanchez; Keith Seymour; Stan (Lord Necktie) Seymour (see photo and story below); James Seymour; Busta Simmons; Cleveland (Outta Sight) Simmons; Derek Simmons; Cal Simons; Leidy Sinclair, violin; Arthur Smith; Henry Smith; the late Hubert Smith (see story below); his son George Smith; Kenneth Smith; Maxwell Smith; Lucinda Spurling (filmmaker); Gene (Eugene) Steede; Pinky (Frances) Steede (both were discovered by Don Gibson in 1959, when Gene delivered mail in Pembroke Parish); Robin Spencer-Arscott; Giles (Dudley) Spurling ('Bermudian Gal'); Robert Symonds; Robert Symons; Kingsley Swan; Gerald Swan; Archie Talbot; Austin Talbot; "Blackie" Talbot; Roy Talbot; dancer Ricky Tatem; Judy Tavares (she is a singer and wrote the song "Bermuda, Beautiful Bermuda"); Terry-Lynn Thompson; Ernest Trimingham; James VanLowe; Val Wallace; Val Wallace; John White; Pam White; Jack Whitney; Wanda Ray Willis; Eric Witter; Cal Wilkinson; John White; Reuben "Chico" Williams; Ginea Wolf; Mandy Wong; John Woolridge; Wence Woolridge; Joe Wylie; Lana Young; Erskine Zuill.
The music of musicians is available on old cassettes, LPs or newer CDs and sound bites..Some groups are Gombey dancers, gospel singers, drum majorette bands, live jazz ensembles, modern reggae bands and more.
Graham and Moira Bean. Mr. Bean, before becoming popular in the original Coral Islanders and the Jack Hammer Quintette, studied music with Les Paul. Mrs. Bean started her career working with the Bethel AME Quartet, singing every Sunday morning on the radio, before working with Mr. Bean on her debut album, 'Moria.'
Clarence "Tootsie" Bean. Veteran jazz drummer. Honored in April 2015 as part of Jazz Appreciation Month. Bermuda’s last living jazz legend. Tootsie Bean is the last of Bermuda's jazz legends and there was a “Tootsie” Bean, supper and performances by four local jazz bands, including the Stephan Furbert Quartet.
Sydney Bean, who died in March 2000 at the age of 92, was the "Daddy of Calypso in Bermuda", a prolific songwriter and probably Bermuda's most recognized entertainer and musician. He received his musical training in church. He taught himself guitar and bass and sang with the Mark Williams Band. Always dressed in colorful outfits and rarely photographed without an instrument in his arms, he was a pioneer in creating a distinct Bermudian calypso soundand the first Bermudian to regularly play abroad. Mr. Bean wrote hundreds of songs, including Bermuda's Still Paradise, Where Did You Stay Last Night Caroline?, and Spend Your Money on Me, which was co-authored by Ted Ming of the Bermuda Strollers. He played in hotels across the island and was the entertainer for Bermuda Island Cruises before becoming its cruise director -- a position he held until the early 1990's. He was still working on the boats when he was in his eighties. He was known as the first local entertainer who could do impersonations of jazz legends such as Louis Armstrong. He was older than Hubert Smith or the Talbot Brothers. Mr. Bean, was married three times, lived for many years in Greene's Guest House in Middle Road Southampton until he moved to a nearby rest home.
Alvin (Hambone) Brangman. April 10, 2014. Iconic entertainer, pianist and poet, a luminary of the Islands hotel circuit from the heyday of local music died aged 90. Mr Brangman, who performed throughout the calypso era and remained devoted to music up until his passing on March 25, was laid to rest at a service in Hamilton's Wesley Methodist Church. "It's a tremendous loss, said music historian Dale Butler. "He gave so much to the tourism industry and to Bermuda and you couldn't have asked for a nicer guy. Mr Brangman loved Bermuda and loved music. An outstanding arranger, pianist and entertainer, very well-known and gifted. He was well groomed, well spoken, with a charming personality. He goes with people like Earl Darrell, Lance Hayward and Reggie Goater. We were producing a whole host of great pianists in this country. Such was his stature that in 2011 Mr Brangman was inducted into the Bermuda Music Hall of Fame. Any time you dined at any of our great hotels, you would have seen him playing. Hailing from the Rocklands neighborhood of Warwick, Mr Brangman started out playing at the age of seven and showed instant promise as a performer, his daughter Alvina Brangman recalled. Mr Brangman was father also to Sherlene G. D. Trott and Valerie Arorash. His father, Charles Ambrose Brangman, used to play music as well. He remained active playing up until his death. By Mr Brangman's own account, his career started around 1941. He was the first one to originate the Four Spots and the Five Stars, according to Mr Butlers book Music on the Rock. He toured the US with local musicians in 1952, living overseas for a spell and then bringing his experience with the American entertainment scene back home to promote shows, playing the accordion and organ as well as piano. Mr Brangman also had an abiding fondness for the Motown great Marvin Gaye, and the jazz pianist and singer Nat King Cole. A cricket lover, Mr Brangman made a point of rising early for Cup Match and attending both days of the games. He also enjoyed photography and making kites, as well as writing his own songs and composing poems. His distinctive nickname came courtesy of his mother, Editha Gertrude Simons-Brangman.
Collie Buddz. 2017. May. He said his latest album was a reflection of his life over the past ten years. “This is my first independent release and being fully hands-on in all aspects of the process has been amazing,” he said of the album, entitled Good Life. “Ultimately, it is about perspective, perseverance and working towards a solution.” The ten-song album, available today, features collaborations with artists including Snoop Dogg, Jody Highroller, also known as Riff Raff, and Kreesha Turner. Most of the album, he said, was produced by Supa Dubs, responsible for recent hits including Drake’s Controlla, and the Drake and Rihanna collaboration Too Good. A 17-show European tour in support of the album kicks off in Manchester on October 18, with stops in France, Germany, and the Netherlands, among others. He will also perform as part of Rendez-Vous Tall Ships 2017 in Hamilton on June 2. Collie Buddz (Colin Patrick Harper) was born in New Orleans and raised in Bermuda. He said he was “blessed” with fans that have provided him with support over his career. “I’m really excited to unveil this project to them,” he said. “I’m already working on the next one.” Good Life is available exclusively on iTunes and Apple Music.
"Ghandi" Pendlebury Burgess. Died September 2009 at the age of 84. Trumpeter. First Bermudian to be musical director of an American cruise ship, according to a book written about him by former Minister of Culture Dale Butler. He was also offered record deals with Columbia Records, Decca and Blue note, though he turned them down. The book 'My Blue Heaven' states he studied at the New York School of Music and played with jazz greats such as Dexter Gordon and Lionel Hampton, as well as backing the Temptations and Frankie Avalon. Locally he was musical director at the Forty Thieves Night Club and Southampton Princess Hotel. Twice ran for the Progressive Labour Party, also received the Queen's Certificate and Badge of Honour as well as the international Performing Arts Humanitarian Award. Jazz bible 'Downbeat' magazine named him in the 'outstanding jazz trumpet" section.
Bryan Robert Dickinson Butterfield. Mr. Butterfield made a name for himself in the shows "Boat in a Bottle," and "Gombey," becoming the drum major for the North Shore Majorettes. After their marriage in 1963, Mrs Sandy Butterfield joined the show "Bermuda is Another World" with Mr. Butterfield as a dancer and the Islands first female steel pan player. A star of Bermuda’s entertainment industry for several decades, he died in June, 2015. He was born on March 6, 1930. From the 1940s onwards, Mr Butterfield enjoyed an extensive career as a leading performer in the Island’s nightspots. He also acted as an ambassador up and down the east coast of the United States in annual Tourism Briefings. Mr Butterfield led one of Bermuda’s first majorette groups, was a key performer in the Easter Parade and entertained visitors with limbo shows in hotels. He won a Founder’s award from Bermuda Arts Council in 2006 in recognition of his life’s work. In addition, he was inducted into the Bermuda Music and Entertainers Hall of Fame. Paying tribute last night, Dale Butler, the historian and author, described Mr Butterfield as “Bermuda’s most progressive, energetic, artistic, stylish and creative entertainer. Bryan was a workhorse during Bermuda’s most progressive period in entertainment, and a first-class showman on the stage. He performed in an era where all of his colleagues could easily have held jobs in top hotels and clubs overseas as he, Hubert Smith, Gene Steede, Talbot Brothers, Michael Clarke and Lance Hayward, to name a few, demonstrated from their performances in Jamaica, New York, Toronto and on the cruise ships. Bryan should have been a national entertainer coach because he had the background, skills and experience. Long may his contributions live. I extend my deepest condolences to his family. I am pleased to say that the book Music on the Rock captures the spirit of this great man.” He was a founder of the Bermuda Foundation of Musicians and Variety Artists which evolved into the existing Bermuda Entertainers Union. He became famous for his distinctive fire-blowing act and dancing on broken glass and formed and led the Bermuda Limbo Dancers. He was a recipient of the Founder’s Award of the Bermuda Arts Council, Adlev Annual Award and awards from the Ministries of Community Affairs, Education and Sports. He was inducted in the Bermuda Hall of Fame In what once was annual Floral Pageant, he was the drum major. He and his first wife Erma were leaders of the North Village Majorettes which were backed by the North Village Band. He was also drum major in many latter-day Easter Parades and Bermuda Day Parades. The distinctive white headpiece Bryan wore with his lily white uniform along with his five-foot baton that he swung, were atop his coffin as it was borne into and out of the church through a guard of honour provided by the Ex-Artillery Majorettes. His last performance was with those majorettes, Heather Lightbourne and Valerie Byron in 2003.
Erma Butterfield. A brilliant dancer and an icon of Bermuda in her heyday. The mother of two, who was described as “a ray of sunshine”, died in April 2016 at the age of 87. She and her then-husband, Bryan Butterfield, danced in both Bermuda and Jamaica during the Fifties and early Sixties. They would make the most of the tourist season on the island and work in Jamaica during Bermuda’s off-season, Erma, along with Bryan, Kenny Bean and King Trott performed every winter in Montego Bay, Jamaica in all the major hotels. Ms Butterfield’s first dance partner was Vince Godfrey, with whom she danced at the St George Hotel. She also had a lead role in the Boat In the Bottle show that was produced by Gregory Gordon and performed at the Castle Harbour Hotel.
Earl Cameron. 2017. October 20. This Bermudian acting legend was back in the limelight in his homeland last night. Mr Cameron, who turned 100 in August, was the star of Our Earl is 100 Years Young at the City Hall in Hamilton. About 300 fans and supporters crowded into the Earl Cameron Theatre, which is named in his honor, to hear him tell his story. Mr Cameron told The Royal Gazette: “I seem to have a fair amount of energy. They seem to be very proud of me here; named a theatre after me. It’s very kind of them.” Mr Cameron made a name for himself in London theatre before becoming the first black star to play a leading role in a British film. But he said his first acting role came about almost by accident. Mr Cameron added: “When I arrived in London, I had no qualifications for anything. It was a period when it was almost impossible for a black person to get any kind of job.” Mr Cameron went to see a friend in a show and, after noticing a number of black actors, asked him if he could have a part. Mr Cameron said: “He said no way. The show was cast, but strangely enough three weeks later he came by late one afternoon and said my big chance had come. He said a guy on the show hadn’t shown up, it was the third time he had missed a matinee so the director said to get someone else.” Mr Cameron made his debut in the chorus that night. Mr Cameron was still able to sing some of his lines this week, more than 60 years later, but he was less lucky on his debut on the boards. “I knew none of the words. All I could see were faces of people in the packed Palace Theatre. I was sweating, my knees were trembling, but I was thinking to myself it’s better than washing dishes. From that night forward, I was bitten by the theatre bug. I never looked back.” Mr Cameron returned to Bermuda after the Second World War, but just five months later he was back on a ship, heading to New York and then to London, where he won a role as an understudy in Deep are the Roots. He said: “That play did me a lot of good. When the show closed, the guy who played the lead went off to live in Paris and I became a package deal with the show for the repertory theatres across England. I owe an awful lot to that play. It was the best part I had up to that period.” Mr Cameron later made the move to the silver screen with a starring role in Pool of London, which made him one of the first black stars in the UK. He went on to earn roles in Simba, Sapphire, the James Bond movie Thunderball, The Queen and The Interpreter. Mr Cameron was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to drama in 2009. The University of Warwick awarded Mr Cameron an honorary doctorate in 2013. Mr Cameron also had some advice for young and aspiring actors. He said: “To be honest, I spent the best part of my life in show business, but I am reluctant to recommend that to young people. It’s a hell of a life. I got the best part of it.” Mr Cameron added he was thrilled to be back on the island where he was born. He said: “It feels wonderful to be here as there’s no place in the world like Bermuda. It’s a delightful place.”
Geoffrey Cauley, world-renowned ballet dancer and choreographer — who was born and spent his childhood in Bermuda — died in Italy in March 2017 at the age of 74. Mr Cauley was born in Somerset and lived in Bermuda until he was 10 when his family moved to live in Plymouth in the southwest of England. He went on to become one of the most respected dancers and choreographers in the business working with the BBC in productions of The Tempest and The Nutcracker. Born in Bermuda in 1942, Mr Cauley as well as a host of other acclaimed ballet dancers returned to Bermuda with the Royal Ballet After leaving Bermuda, Mr Cauley lived with his family in Plymouth where he attended ballet classes with Geraldine Lambe. She sent him to audition for the Royal Ballet School, which he entered successfully in 1954. From there, he joined the Covent Garden Opera Ballet in 1960 and moved to the Royal Ballet itself two years later. Great figures of dance such as Marga Nativo and Luciana Savignano have said that without Cauley, dance will never be the same.” During a professional career that spanned several decades, Mr Cauley worked with the giants of international ballet including Nureyev, Anthony Dowell, Frederick Ashton, Margot Fontaine, Savignano and Fracci. He travelled the world living and working in Italy, Switzerland, Argentina, Germany, England and the United States. About 15 years ago, Mr Cauley moved to Torre del Lago in Viareggio, Italy and taught at the Danzarea school of Viareggio until quite recently. He died on March 17 in Forte dei Marmi.
Nick Christopher. 2018. January 6. Bermudian actor Nick Christopher has landed a top role in a production of the award-winning musical Hamilton. Mr Christopher will take on the role of Aaron Burr when the first national tour of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical begins in San Diego this month. The 27-year-old, who is starring in the musical Miss Saigon, said his new role was a “dream come true”. He added: “I’ll be closing Miss Saigon on January 14 and joining up with the Hamilton crew in San Diego the next day. There are a lot of exciting things about this tour that runs all the way through to November. We’re doing seven cities and sitting down in each from between three and 14 weeks, so there’s no one-nighters or one-weekers which means you really get to know these places.” He added: “One of the real reasons I’m excited, too, is that we finish in Boston, so I’ll be able to perform in my home city professionally for the first time. There’s a lot to look forward to and it’s always an honour to represent Bermuda when I’m on stage.” Hamilton tells the story of US statesman and America’s founding father Alexander Hamilton, who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War. He was killed in an 1804 duel with vice-president Aaron Burr. The show has won numerous Tony Awards, a Grammy Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Mr Christopher previously appeared in Hamilton in 2017, when he stepped in to replace Tony nominee Christopher Jackson as George Washington. The actor, the son of Hamilton town crier Ed Christopher, has been starring as John in a revival of Miss Saigon at the Broadway Theatre In New York that began in 2016. Mr Christopher was also in the limelight in 2015 in Lazarus, a musical featuring the music of iconic rock star David Bowie, written by Tony Award-winner Enda Walsh.
John Theophilus Clarke. A ground-breaking dancer on the local and international stage, he died on September 5, 2017 at the age of 85. Mr Clarke challenged racial barriers during a time of open discrimination and his performances included touring with Les Ballets Negres, Europe’s first all-black dance troupe. He founded his own company in Europe, The Montgomery Dancers, later establishing a dance school back in Bermuda — as well as working in the family business, Wrights Candy Shop, a popular St George’s store. Fellow performer Sandra Butterfield, a contemporary of Mr Clarke’s along with her husband Bryan, recalled him as “creative, brilliant, charming, funny, stubborn, generous, gentle”. Calling him “an icon for sure”, Ms Butterfield said there could be “no duplication” of her longtime friend. Mr Clarke was born in Britain to Ellen Trew Wright from Bermuda and John Theophilus Clarke Sr from Georgetown, Guyana. He grew up in the Wright family homestead of Hillcrest in Old Maid’s Lane, St George’s. His introduction to dance came early, though Gregory Gordon, an American dance instructor who coached many local performers. Mr Gordon’s production of The Boat in the Bottle afforded Mr Clarke his first taste of the stage. Law ran in the family, and in 1949, at the age of 15, he was sent to London to study at University Tutorial College. But he left a year later to pursue dance, studying modern ballet and acrobatics. Health may have factored in that decision: according to his daughter, Belinda Clarke, Mr Clarke had been hit by chronic bronchitis. “A doctor said he would benefit from physical activity, and dancing was that,” Ms Clarke said. She described her father as “a showman in everything he did — the way he walked and presented himself and told stories”. In the troupe Les Ballet Negres, Mr Clarke was pushed to his physical limit in performances that enthralled postwar audiences. A London reviewer said the group danced with “every fibre of the body and every flicker and flame of the spirit”. The company finished in 1953. Mr Clarke joined the ranks of Katherine Dunham’s company, performing in Rome, Naples and Turin. Dunham was a pioneer in black theatrical dance and was also known for her social activism. He performed under the direction of innovative French ballet director Ronald Petitt, as well as Burt Stimmel, and shared the spotlight with Josephine Baker — a dancer who had distinguished herself as the world’s first globally famed black entertainer. Later, Mr Clarke assembled The Montgomery Dancers ballet troupe. In 1955, he briefly married Bianca Cavallini, a Swedish dancer and singer who performed alongside him. He spent the last five years of his dance career overseas in Milan, Italy, before returning to Bermuda in April 1957. He performed in the leading houses in London, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Germany, Scandinavia and Holland operating under the stage name of John Montgomery. Locally, he ran his own dance school in the Arcadia Block, and continued to perform, while Wright’s Candy Shop was “part of everyone’s experience, coming home from school and getting a pineapple slush”, his daughter said. “John performed in the Holiday Island Review in many of Bermuda’s hotels with Kenny Bean,” Ms Clarke added. “He also danced with Dee Dee Simmons, Juliette Bean and Barbara Tatem in the Fiery Limbo Dancers. He added to Bermuda a rich and exciting style of dance that entertained locals and tourists in the nightclub and hotel venues.” According to family lore, Mr Clarke confronted segregation at local venues in the 1960s, when black entertainers were told to enter hotels by the back door. “One night, John told his company they were going in the front door — and they did,” Ms Clarke said. “No one said a word. That was typical of John to buck the status quo, particularly where racial inequity was concerned.” Mr Clarke also crossed the island’s racial divide in his personal life, marrying a white woman, Ingrid Clarke, in 1961. They were together for 25 years. “Black entertainers held Bermuda together in the 1960s — they worked hard over long hours, they got paid less, and they were told to use the back door,” his daughter said. “They persevered because they loved what they did.” Fittingly, Mr Clarke ran into his future wife on the back stairs at the Castle Harbour Hotel while “late as usual”, Ms Clarke said — and impulsively asked her out. They married within a year. Mourning her father with siblings Sita Ingram, Bianca Clarke, Joshua Mayho, Guisti Clarke, Maha Clarke and Veronica Clarke, Ms Clarke called him “incredibly creative. He always wanted us to grab life and give it a good shake, in whatever we did — it didn’t matter that we were girls. He pushed us beyond our limits, to be the very best.” Along with the Butterfields, contemporaries of Mr Clarke included Gene and Pinky Steede, Kenny and Kathy Bean, Herbert Smith, Vernon “Ghandi” Burgess, Stan Seymour, Sydney Bean and Lance Hayward. Popular clubs outside the hotel circuit were the Forty Thieves Club where Mr Clarke’s close friend Winston “Super” Lottimore was the bouncer, and the Clayhouse Inn.
Rudolph Commissiong. A pioneer of steel band music in Bermuda, on May 21, 2016, recalls his life and times as a pan man played against a backdrop of revolution and segregation "In Trinidad & Tobago I started learning how to play the steel pan in my late teens — at 17 years of age, actually. I was influenced to do so by one of the most famous bands at that time; a neighborhood band called Casablanca and by one of the best tenor pan players I had ever heard named Ormond “Patsy” Haynes. With about eight friends, we started a band called the Hit Paraders. We were fortunate to have a well-known and talented musician by the name of Art De Coteau teach and arrange the music for us. We soon started playing for private parties and were doing quite well, but most of the guys had other interests as young men and so the band folded. On the advice from one of my friends, I joined a band from the Woodbrook neighborhood called the Dixie Stars. This band was formed after members decided to split from a band called Dixieland, which was the most popular band at that time. This was 1952 and by 1953, I became the band’s leader. Soon we were offered a job by Errol Lau, who lived near where we practised. He was the manager of the Bel-Air Hotel at Piarco International Airport. We started playing there two nights a week and within three months, we were asked by the owner, Sonny Hamid, to do five nights. We became the only steel bandsmen to make a living as full-time musicians then, with each member making $48 per week. In 1953, this was considered a very good wage. There were other advantages as well. For example, by working at the hotel at the airport, it gave us great exposure to the rest of the world. With Trinidad being an international flight hub, all flights going from Europe to South America and vice versa would overnight in Trinidad. Because of this, a lot of influential people from overseas would see and hear us play. The band also became very popular with the locals in Trinidad. We were always overbooked for private parties on weekends and were regular fixtures at the Trinidad Country Club, the Yacht Club, the Arima Tennis Club and the US Naval Base at Chaguaramas. In 1953, we also became the first band to be sponsored by a major company. We became the Shell Dixie Stars Steel Band. Our instruments were painted yellow, with the Shell logo on each drum. In March 1954, we got our first job overseas. We were contracted to play in Barbados at the Coconut Creek Club and later at the Club Morgan in Bridgetown, the capital. For this trip, we adopted the Bel-Air Hotel name and were known in Barbados as the Bel-Air Dixie Stars. It was during this engagement at Club Morgan that we were recalled to Trinidad because the Trinidad Commissioner for Trade with Canada, Rex Stollmeyer, had arranged with Imperial Oil and Esso for their sponsorship in order for the band to play at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. That is when we became the Esso Steel Band. Their sponsorship lasted until 1987, when I left the band. We departed Trinidad for Canada sometime in August and our appearance there was a huge success — the first organized tour of a steel band to play in Canada. After two weeks in Toronto, we went to Montreal. We played about three or four shows there, with the last appearance taking place at McGill University. After the show, a lot of West Indian students studying at the school at that time came backstage to offer congratulations and their thanks. It made them feel like they were back home in the Caribbean, if only for a couple of hours. Interestingly, one of the people who came and chatted for a while was Stanley Ratteray, of Bermuda. He introduced himself and we had a short but very nice talk. Little did we know that our paths would soon cross again. On our trip back home, we stopped in Caracas, Venezuela, and did a half-hour spot on Venezuelan television that was arranged by our sponsor, Esso. We arrived in Trinidad a couple of days later in October 1954 and soon after we were asked by someone in government to take part in a mini-carnival that was being staged for Princess Margaret at Government House grounds. She must have been impressed because she asked that we play again at another reception in her honour at the Princess Building in Port-of-Spain. In March 1955, someone passing through Trinidad from Brazil to his home in Bermuda saw us playing at the Bel-Air. On his return, he suggested to the manager of a nightclub called the Alibi Room in the New Windsor Hotel in Hamilton, Bermuda, that he should fly down and take a look at the band. In a couple of weeks, a fellow by the name of Don Gibson came down to see us, a contract was signed and we were on our way. We arrived in Bermuda in April 1955 and were met at the airport by a couple of reporters from The Royal Gazette and Mid-Ocean News, officials from Esso and representatives from the Department of Tourism. However, what was really special was that we were serenaded by Hubert Smith and the Coral Islanders, who were playing right on the tarmac as we disembarked the aircraft. About one week later, we started doing one show a night at the Alibi Room in the New Windsor Hotel on Queen Street in Hamilton. There were long lines of people, mainly tourists, all the way up Queen Street, trying to get in. The one thing that we were not told, though, before we left Trinidad was that Bermuda was rigidly segregated racially. The only blacks that we saw in the room were the waiters. This really bothered members of the band tremendously, as that was not our experience in Trinidad. One day during rehearsals I took a break and walked through the terrace, which was part of the building at the back and side of the nightclub to a bar, which I thought was part of the hotel and called Casey’s Bar. There were about half a dozen white men drinking and talking. I ordered a beer. The bartender stood there rather frozen, then one of the men who I assumed knew who I was told the bartender something about the band. The bartender then said: “OK, but you will have to take it with you. You can’t drink it here.” That was very degrading and something that lived with me for a long time. I think that it was August 1955 that we were contracted by the Travel Writers Association of America to play at its annual dinner. This was held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City in one of the large ball rooms. It was attended by some 500 writers and their guests, and some really big stars headlined the show. It was a most exciting night for us. We returned to Trinidad in November and by March 1956, we were contracted by Don Gibson and the owner of the Coral Island Hotel in Flatts, Bermuda. Mr Barber had just opened a new nightclub in the hotel, which was called The Pirates Den. The show was headlined by a top American act, “Tony & Eddie”. They were fantastic entertainers and the club was sold out every night. We spent that winter in Bermuda and it was the end of the tourist season, so The Pirates Den closed and reopened in April 1957, a month before my first-born son was born. Again there were large crowds every night. Meanwhile, two executives from Esso Cuba, who had seen us at the Alibi Room in September 1955 while at a convention on the island, went back to Cuba and arranged for us to tour Cuba, Nassau and Jamaica exclusively for Esso Standard Oil, a company originally founded by John D. Rockefeller. We left Bermuda for Cuba in October 1957. This was solely a promotional tour for Esso. We would do television and cocktail parties or any other promotional activity that we were asked to do, such as opening a new plant or gas station. We arrived in Cuba to great fanfare and were met at the airport by the media, executives from Esso and officials from the Ministry of Culture. Esso rented a house in Marianao, a suburb of Havana, for us to stay. This was a fairly big house with six bedrooms and four baths. The reason why they put us there was so that we could practise and store our instruments (drums), which we would not have been able to do at a hotel. We became friendly with a lot of people in the neighborhood because they loved the music. It was a really upscale area, but we were warned to be careful because the house was once owned by a captain in president Fulgencio Batista’s police force. They were major fears at the time that Fidel Castro’s guerrillas, who were already terrorizing Havana in 1957, could have their eyes on the property. At least twice or three times a week, we could hear bombs exploding in Havana. On one occasion, we were booked to appear on TV, so Esso sent a couple limousines, which was customary, to pick us up. As we were approaching downtown Havana, a police officer on a motorcycle rode up alongside the car, waved us to stop, got off his bike with his gun drawn and started talking to the driver, who was forced to explain why these six guys were in his car. Considering that so much was going on in Cuba, we were all very scared when we got to the TV station, as we were searched and patted down about three times before we got to the studio with its cameras and lights. However, we did the half-hour show without a hitch, but the experience was extremely traumatic. We spent three weeks in October, and most of November in Cuba, but because Castro’s fighters were getting closer to the capital, Esso decided that we should leave. They did not want to be responsible for us being caught up in a civil war. Everybody was trying to leave Cuba; it was getting really bad. We were sent to Nassau earlier than they had planned and the timing could not have been better. Soon after, president Batista fled the country and Fidel Castro, Che Guevera and the victorious insurgents entered Havana on January 1, 1959. The morning that we left Havana for Nassau, Jose Marti Airport was in complete chaos. Thousands of people — some middle class but mostly well to do or wealthy — were trying to get out. We were ushered through the crowd by some Esso people and some strongmen that they had hired. It was very chaotic. We had mixed emotions, but we were glad to leave because everything was so uncertain in Cuba. But at the same time, our emotions were mixed, as they were tinged with sadness because of the beautiful people and the great culture that we were leaving behind. We were in Nassau for about three weeks, but after Cuba, this became a sort of a letdown. We left for Kingston, Jamaica, then on to Montego Bay, where Don Gibson from Bermuda opened a nightclub in a hotel called the Chatham. He hired us to perform there and brought Lance Hayward and his quartet from Bermuda to work as the resident band. They became a big hit. Lance was a very talented jazz pianist and had some equally talented musicians, such as Tootsie Bean, with him. For whatever reason, the nightclub did not do very well and closed after a month. I think it was February 1958, and we were essentially out of a job. The contract with Esso was up and the tour ended in Jamaica, so they asked us if we wanted to go back to Trinidad or back to Bermuda, where the tour started. We said Bermuda. We arrived in Bermuda not knowing how long we would be allowed to stay. We did not have a job, but all the guys had some money that we had made and saved from the now completed tour. After about three days, I got a call from Conrad Englehardt, the general manager of the Inverurie Hotel. How he found that we were back in Bermuda and my phone number, I do not know. However, he said he had a great idea and that I should come and meet him. I went over to the hotel the next day. He asked me what our plans were. I told him that I was not sure, but I was open to hearing anything he might have to offer. He said he was thinking of having the Bermuda Hotel Association apply to the Immigration Board for us to stay on the island and work at the hotels. The hotels would apply for and hold the work permit. He was sure he would get the other hotels’ approval and had no doubt that immigration would go along. He based this on us being a holiday attraction and on that there wasn’t anything in Bermuda that was comparable; we would be an asset to the island. That he knew Colonel Astwood, who was the chairman of the Immigration Board, and Colonel Gosling, the deputy of the board, for whom we had once played for no charge on the occasion of his daughter’s wedding in 1955, did not hurt either. It was on the next Monday that we talked again, and with the Immigration Board meeting on Wednesdays, by Friday permission was granted. We started working Mondays and Fridays at the Inverurie, Saturdays at the Elbow Beach, Thursdays at the Bermudiana, Tuesdays at the Castle Harbour and Wednesdays at the Belmont Hotel. It was June or July 1958 when I got a call from Stanley Ratteray. He reminded me that we met backstage the night we gave a concert at McGill University in Montreal. He was now a practising dentist in Bermuda, having graduated in 1956. We met for lunch at the Spot Restaurant, which was one of the only restaurants in Hamilton that served blacks. We were there for about an hour, and except for the first 15 minutes, our conversation was all about the racial discrimination and segregation that black Bermudians had to endure. He was very angry and determined to do something about it. We became very good friends, as a matter of fact, and I asked him to be the godfather of one of my sons. He would visit my home at Spanish Point for cocktails on Sunday afternoons and me and my wife at the time, Vera Le Gall Commissiong, did the same by visiting his house to join him and his wife, Pat, on Middle Road near Somerset Bridge. Not long after, there were friends of the same mindset who would be invited to join these Sunday afternoon sessions. Some of them were friends of Vera, who was a schoolteacher. At that time, some of those who joined us were teachers as well. One of them, Rosalind Williams, and her husband, Ed, became the most important members of the Progressive Group (the name we adopted). Rosalind became the secretary and worked tirelessly. She was the most dedicated to the cause. She and Ed offered their home in Flatts as a permanent venue to meet, which was a huge risk to both. Had the segregationists found out what was going on, they would have lost their home, their jobs and been blackballed for the rest of their lives in Bermuda. At one of the meetings, I proposed that as a first step to break down segregation and white supremacy in Bermuda, we start with a boycott of the theatres. The motion was adopted unanimously and the rest is history. Meanwhile, the band was doing great working at the hotels and it was in 1960 when I decided that we needed something other than the steel band music, so as to add some variety to the show. The idea hit me that I should add a featured vocalist to the band. At that time, there was a group called the Chalets and they were very good, and everybody was taking notice of their lead vocalist, a young man by the name of Hubert Smith Jr. This guy could really sing, so I asked him if he would like to join my band. He said yes. We made a little history as well, as we became the first steel band to feature a vocalist. Harry Belafonte was big at the time and his interpretation of calypso music was really making inroads on the American music scene. Hubert Smith Jr could sing all of Belafonte’s songs; some of them as good as Belafonte. He also had the tourists begging for more whenever we did Yellow Bird. We were on top. By 1964, most of the original members, including me, had acquired Bermudian status, so there was not a need for the Hotel Association to hold our work permits. While there had never been a problem, all the guys in the band felt a sense of being free. Between the years 1955 and 1970, there were other steel pan players who joined the band and made us better: Kelvin Dove, originally from, and one of the founders of Invaders Steel Band, Herman Johnston, tuner, arranger, leader of West Symphony from St James, Trinidad, and Steve Dupres, who rejoined the band after a few years with Pierre’s Dixieland Steel Band and after winning the Music Festival with the Dixieland Steel Band. In 1963, we were sponsored by the largest newspaper in Hartford, Connecticut, to play at the annual expo at the Armory in Hartford. This was for two weeks and I was told that we were seen by at least 20,000 people during that time. During the years we switched from some hotels to others. For instance, we quit the Belmont Hotel and went to the Hamilton Princess. We also quit Castle Harbour when the Sonesta Hotel was built and opened. We also started working two nights per week at the Elbow Beach and one night per week at Southampton Princess. We always worked seven nights per week and life was good. In 1985, we were brought by Mayor Flynn of Boston to appear at City Hall Plaza in conjunction with a series of free outdoor summer concerts put on by the city each year. Some of the jazz shows, for example, would be right on the Boston Common itself. This was such a success that they would bring us back in 1987. Each time that we played at this event, it was estimated that there were at least 5,000 people in attendance. As early as 1984, I noticed that the tourist trade was declining in Bermuda. Some of the visitors that I would talk to would express the view that Bermuda was becoming too expensive. For instance, the cost to take a taxi, whether it was by way of a tour of the island or just to go from Elbow Beach to Hamilton, was becoming prohibitive for growing numbers of visitors. I myself, while travelling during the winter break, noticed that some islands such as Aruba, Barbados, St Maarten to name a few, had more to offer for less than what it cost back home. I told the guys in the band of my observations and that they should consider moving on. In 1987, my present wife and I got married in Honolulu, Hawaii. We chose Honolulu because we had been there at least four times and loved it. I retired from the band, and as a musician, and moved to Boston. We lived there for a short while, then moved to Maui, Hawaii, in 1989. In 1990, my wife, while working at the Wailea Four Seasons Hotel, saw a drummer walking through the lobby with his instruments. Being one who always boasted about her husband and the Esso Steel Band, she stopped this fellow and struck up a conversation. It turned out that he knew everything about the band, having met Neville Paynter. Neville was our vocalist and drummer between 1968 and 1981, after Hubert Smith Jr left the band. He was on his honeymoon when he met this fellow, and sent him three or four of our record albums after returning to Bermuda. A few days later, I got a call. It was from the drummer my wife met whose name was Bryan. He wanted to know if I could come out of retirement and resume playing again. He said there was plenty money to be made. At first, I said no, but after about the fifth call, I said I would try it for a while. I had taken a single tenor pan with me, so I started practising. We soon put an advert in the paper for a bassist, guitarist and a vocalist. A young lady by the name of Eva, who like a great Brazilian footballer went only by her first name, was soon hired as a vocalist. She was more than I could ask for. She was from Sacramento, California, loved to sing jazz, had a really great voice and, of course, star presence. The two guys — Jan Nielson, the guitarist and bassist, and Joe Miles, the congo player — were very talented as well. We called the quartet Steel Groove and started working at a restaurant called Hamburger in Paradise, a very popular place with tourists. Soon we were doing only conventions at all of the large hotels: the Ritz Carlton at Kapalua, The Westin in Kaanapali, Four Seasons in Wailea, the Hyatt in Wailea and others. One day in 1995, we had scheduled a rehearsal for two in the afternoon. I found it strange, however, that Eva was late as she was a real pro and never late. At about one hour later, she came in with tears streaming from her eyes. She informed us that she just came from her doctor who told her the terrible news that she should get all her business affairs straight, as he estimated that she only had about six months left to live because of a diagnosis of cancer. We were all shocked because none of us knew about the cancer that was about to take her life. That information sucked the energy out of the three of us, especially me because I was a cancer survivor, having had cancer diagnosed in my right vocal cords in 1990. Eva — her name means East — was loved by all of the musicians on Maui. It did not matter what genre: whether it was jazz, country, popular or traditional Hawaiian. She lived the true Hawaiian life of being nice to all, loving the land and being positive at all times. She started taking care of her business interests and making sure that the homes she owned in Hilo and Hana were in good shape. She also made arrangements for her son, who was about 12 at the time, to join his father in Germany. She made one last effort to defeat the illness by going back to Sacramento, where there was a hospital that treated people with cancer. I called her about two days before she passed. She was too weak to talk, but told the nurse to tell me that I should tell all the musicians that we knew that she loved them and that she would see us on the other side. Her body was flown back to Maui, where her friends made sure that she had a true Hawaiian funeral out at sea. We were not the same after Eva’s death. I remember taking a couple of jobs after she passed, but eventually we just stopped playing. Maybe we were haunted by her beautiful voice, now stilled. My wife, Patty, and I started thinking about returning to Massachusetts because her parents were much older and developing some health issues. She wished to be closer to them. I told her I would rather live in an area where there were beaches. After growing up in Trinidad and living in Bermuda for 32 years and Maui for 7½, I had to live near the ocean. She agreed. We came back east and bought a house on Cape Cod, and we are still here today. I have not played music since.
Esso Steel Band roll call (1955-1987)
We made eight albums:
Awards and citations:
Doris Corbin. Died September 6. 2015 at 103 years old. Longstanding organist and choir director for St Paul African Methodist Episcopal Church. A former teacher at Central Primary School, now Victor Scott Primary School, Mrs Corbin was awarded the Certificate and Badge of Honour by the Queen in 1983 for her service in the Girl Guide movement. Her funeral was held at St Paul AME Church in Hamilton.
Earl Robinson Darrell. Died February 2013 at age 89. Pianist and war veteran. Played the piano at the Waterlot Inn for more than four decades, performing for many visiting celebrities including British Prime Minister Edward Heath and Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson. He was perhaps most proud of having performed with movie star Elizabeth Taylor when she visited Bermuda, and he kept a photograph of her in his living room. The song he was most frequently asked to perform was ‘Yellow Bird’ in the 1950s and 1960s. He could play many other pieces including Italian and German music. He was born to Melvina and John Darrell and grew up in Warwick in the Spring Hill area. His family was musical and he learned to play the piano by ear at an early age. He started performing professionally as a teenager, playing the piano with the Al Davis Band. He was hired after a musician scheduled to play didn’t show up for work; Mr Darrell was taken on because he knew how to play ‘Blue Moon.’ When the Second World War broke out he joined the Caribbean Regiment, and was stationed in Italy and Egypt. At a military hospital in Port Said, Egypt he was taught how to read music by an English Corporal who played the organ in a church attended by the troops. When he returned to Bermuda in January 1946 he formed a musical group called The Aldarnos. For decades he played the piano all over Bermuda, with much of the time spent at the Waterlot Inn through its various reincarnations the Number One Club, the Rib Room and then the Waterlot Inn. In 2012 he received the Bermuda Arts Council Lifetime Achievement Award for long service to music in Bermuda. He also received a PLP Drum Major Award in 2008. His experiences in the Second World War have been recorded by the Bermuda National Museum, and he was interviewed for their film ‘Bermuda’s Defence Heritage.’ While Mr Darrell was deeply proud of his war record, he was also highly critical of the way that Bermuda war veterans were treated and compensated after the war. He has also been outspoken about the way that Bermuda’s veteran musicians were virtually abandoned in the 1980s when hoteliers decided they no longer wanted local music. He was predeceased by his wife of many years, Winfred. He leaves behind a daughter, Cheryl Phillips, plus numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren, other relatives and friends.
Francis Llewellyn Spencer Darrell. Known as “Merry Mice” — said to be the oldest Gombey captain — died August 22, 2015 the age of 83. Friends, family and fellow dancers paid tribute to a “real giant in the Gombey movement." The former Pembroke resident had moved and resided in Stanford, Connecticut, in the United States, but remained well-loved in Bermuda. Mr Darrell was a protégée of the founding father of Bermuda Gombeys — Charles Ebenezer Norford — and he was honored at the 2008 Gombey Festival. H & H Gombeys, Places New Generation Gombeys, Warner Gombeys, Richardson’s Gombeys and the Warwick Gombeys all performed after his funeral and the programme concluded with the formal recognition and honoring of Mr Darrell. He was the oldest Bermuda Gombey captain alive, even though he was living in Connecticut.
Kristen Darrell. 2017. December 27. This Bermudian actress has landed a role in one of the biggest video games of the year and a place in the Star Wars universe. Kristen Darrell’s voice is among those featured in Star Wars Battlefront II, which has sold millions of copies since its release last month. “Realising that I was going to be a part of the Star Wars universe was amazing,” Ms Darrell said. “It was like Christmas and my birthday all at once. I still can’t believe it has happened.” Ms Darrell, who has appeared in numerous theatre productions locally, moved to London, with the goal of making a career in acting. She has landed several roles since, including in music videos and a commercial for Kyleena. “It’s been great hearing from people telling me that they have seen me on TV,” she said. “I came home for a bit this summer, and I was amazed at how often the commercial was playing. Every time I see it, I smile.” She said her most recent role came about after her agent won her an audition. “I loved the material they gave me at the audition and I really hoped I’d get the role,” she said. “I didn’t hear back for a while, and then my agent called me to ask if I was available for recording, and I said I was definitely available. I enjoyed the voice acting process because you don’t have to worry about what the rest of your body is doing, you just have to make sure it’s all in your voice. It was challenging at times, but in the best way. It helps you to realize how important your voice is in acting, and that you need to take care of it just as much as the rest of your body.” Unlike theatre acting, she said she had to create much of the scene and story for her character in her head. “You have to have a really good imagination, and you have to be good at taking direction because they can ask you to do a take five times, and you have to do something different every time,” she said. The game features a story mode, which details the period between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and an online multiplayer mode set throughout the Star Wars series. While Ms Darrell said she couldn’t say much about her character, she thoroughly enjoyed the game. “I thought it was amazing,” Ms Darrell said. “It’s really cool to see the direction they took it, and it was amazing to hear myself while I was playing. It was distracting sometimes though, and I would lose a life sometimes because it took me by surprise.” Ms Darrell has many other projects in the pipeline, many of which she cannot discuss, but she also has a role in the Bermudian-based Maternal Secrets. Asked what advice she could give to other Bermudians looking to pursue a career in acting, she said they need to learn where their strengths lie as a person. “When you get in front of people in the industry, they want to see you, not what you think they want you to be. Most, if not all, of the best actors in the business are successful because they stayed true to themselves. Also, if acting is what you truly see yourself doing, you have to keep at it. It’s not going to be easy, but eventually the hard work will pay off.” Ms Darrell said those interested in acting can start locally by working with theatre groups around the island. “There are many local drama organisations that put on shows and workshops in Bermuda, and they are always looking for new people to get involved.” The advice and encouragement I got locally is one of the reasons I decided to pursue acting as a career, and I will always be grateful for it.”
Patricia Deane-Gray, MBE. She studied with various dance teachers on the Island before traveling to England to train as a professional classical dancer. She attended both the Legat School of Ballet in London and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, before going to the International Ballet School in Split, Yugoslavia (now Croatia). Later she became a soloist with the National Theatre of Yugoslavia, and traveled to New York with Ballet Russe, where she performed at the Yugoslav Embassy for the United Nations. Returning to London, she obtained her teacher’s degree from the Federation of Russian Ballet. Upon her return to Bermuda she taught for the Department of Education before opening and directing her Bermuda School of Russian Ballet. Since 1958, Mme Deane-Gray has been indirectly responsible for most of the ballet performances given in Bermuda, including the Bermuda Ballet Weeks from 1959-1965, which became the forerunners of the Bermuda Festival. She is the founder and was the director of the Bermuda Civic Ballet from 1972-2002, and danced in its first production, ‘Devil in the Village.’ She is a two-time past president of the Bermuda Ballet Association, which she co founded with Yugoslav dancer/teacher Madame Ana Roje in 1962. From 1977 she has been a representative of the Society of Russian Ballet London, and is a past president of the American Society of Russian Ballet. In 1982, she lectured and demonstrated the syllabus to students and teachers for the American Society of Russian Ballet in New England at Harvard University. Mme Deane-Gray’s work as a dancer/teacher/choreographer has been formally recognized with several awards. In 1984 she was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) by the Queen. She has been honored twice by the Bermuda Arts Council, first with its Performing Arts Founders Award, and then its Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2003 she was honored by the Ministry of Education for her contributions to education of the arts. Overseas, she has been recognized by the Society of Russian Ballet as a teacher, examiner and consultant. In 2011 she was a judge at Zagreb Theatre’s International Dance Competition in Croatia. Mme Deane-Gray is the director of the Ana Roje International Ballet summer school, which this year has been held in Bermuda to coincide with the Civic Ballet’s 40th anniversary, in which some of the students will participate. She is a teacher, examiner and consultant with the Legat Foundation in Croatia, and the international coordinator of the Legat summer school in Croatia. Mme Deane-Gray has taken the Legat traveling exhibition, ‘One Hundred Years of Croatian Ballet’, to 27 different venues in Canada, the US, Russia and Austria.
Eddy DeMello. Died March 6, 2013 at the age of 75. Music promoter and businessman, owner of Music Box on Reid Street. He recorded many Bermuda musicians and organized many music concerts and musical events on the Island. He also worked tirelessly on behalf of the Island’s Portuguese community and was president of the Vasco da Gama Club for 17 years. He received numerous Bermuda honors for his work and was also recognised by the Queen and Portuguese government. Mr DeMello’s wife, Elsie, said he was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2008 and died peacefully at home. “He put up a brave fight and had a real will to live which he never gave up until the end. He was a man who wore many hats and always wanted to keep busy. But he was also incredibly kind. He would give you the shirt off his back.” Mrs DeMello recalled how staff at the Music Box would always try and prevent Mr DeMello from serving customers because he was always giving discounts to clients who couldn’t quite afford their purchases. “He was generous to a fault but never talked about that side of things,” Mrs DeMello said. Mr DeMello was born in the Azores in 1937, but came to Bermuda in 1949 at the age of 11. He attended Dellwood School for a few years but, as the oldest of four children, had to go out to work while still a teenager to support the family. A love of music soon landed him a job at the Music Box, which was then located on Queen Street. He bought the business in the 1970s, turning it into one of the most popular music retailers on the Island. Mr DeMello was also highly successful as a promoter, bringing many top-of-the-bill recording stars to Bermuda, including Charlie Pride, Mahalia Jackson, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Amalia Rodrigues and the Merrymen of Barbados. For more than a decade DeMello Productions organized an annual concert by soca legend Byron Lee. His recording of Jungle Bermuda Tree Frogs chirping Christmas Carols - see http://www.amazon.com/Jingle-Bermuda-Tree-Frogs-Daune/dp/B0000523LP - was a classic. Former Culture Minister Dale Butler said that Mr DeMello did more than anyone to promote culture of all kinds on the Island. Pointing out that Mr DeMello had already been inducted into the Cultural Hall of Fame, Mr Butler added: “That man needs a monument in his honour because he is a national hero. His emphasis was on what it means to be a decent human being. He wasn’t interested in black or white or where you were from or anything. He just wanted to work with anyone, as long as it was for the betterment of Bermuda. Obviously he was very interested in Portuguese culture but he also had a love for Bermudian culture I don’t think I ever saw him wearing long pants. He was an outstanding promoter and a truly outstanding citizen. His passing is a big, big loss for Bermuda.” Never one to forget his roots, Mr DeMello worked tirelessly to keep alive Portuguese traditions and promote Azorian culture here. His interpreting skills were often called upon to assist Portuguese nationals struggling to deal with officialdom. He served on the Portuguese Cultural Centre Committee and was also a member of the Committee for Long Term Residents. Vasco da Gama Club and all of its members were deeply saddened. His passing will be a large loss in the Portuguese-Bermudian community of Bermuda. In 1979, Mr DeMello’s work was recognised by Portugal when he was made Knight Commander of the Order of Prince Henry for his contribution to the Portuguese community. He received the Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honour twice the first time in 1988 for his work with the Portuguese community and the second time in 2006 for service to the Bermuda Independence Commission. He was presented with a Bermuda Arts Council Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 for his contribution to the arts and last year he received a Senior Citizen Community Service Award from the Bermuda Government. As well as his wife, Mr DeMello leaves his son, Duane, sister Mary, brothers William and Joseph and a granddaughter.
Diana Douglas (Diana Love Webster (née Dill; formerly Douglas and Darrid). Born January 22, 1923, died July 3, 2015. A Bermuda-born and bred from a prominent local family American actress. She was known for her marriage to actor Kirk Douglas, from 1943 until their divorce in 1951. She was the mother of Michael and Joel Douglas. In 1942, Douglas began her career as an actress and appeared in more than 50 films. Some of her well-known roles were as Susan Rogers in The Indian Fighter (co-starring Kirk Douglas) and as Peg in Planes, Trains and Automobiles. She was also known for her recurring role as Martha Evans in Days of Our Lives (1977–79, 1982). In 2003, she appeared in It Runs in the Family with her ex-husband Kirk, her son Michael and her grandson Cameron. She retired from acting in 2008.
Steve Easton. 2018. January 22. This Bermudian singer, songwriter and music producer died on Friday at the age of 54 after suffering from complications related to diabetes. The father of three recorded Beyoncé when she took part in the Bermuda Music Festival in 2008, collaborated with David Bowie on a number of songs while the British star lived on the island and recorded voice-over actors for the 2005 Star Wars movie Revenge of the Sith. Described as a humble man, the owner and producer of Just Platinum studio never forgot his roots and was always on hand to help aspiring locals make their way in music, production and recording. Aside from his love for music, Mr Easton was a family man. His brother, Mikko Ingham, said: “My greatest memories of Steve would be outside the music. I enjoyed my brother for the family man he was and he really enjoyed family gatherings and talking about old times. I will really miss that. I used to make it a point that every Friday I would go to the studio and would be there for two or three hours just talking because that’s what he loved to do.” Mr Easton’s other brother Shondell described him as “a big brother I looked up to”. He said: “I was always proud of his accomplishments. He was a big influence on me. I do music as well and he taught me everything I know in that world. I’m a producer and recording engineer for Just Platinum. Steve was a very charismatic person. He was extremely knowledgeable about recording and the whole music world. He was always trying to figure out how electronics worked. When he was young, he got a radio as a present and he took it apart to see how it worked. A large portion of people in Bermuda that have recording set ups were helped by Steve. I used to see people come to the studio to pick his brain. I used to tell him that they want to become your competition, but he would give them the information anyway and they would set up as his competition.” Mr Easton came from a musical family. His mother, Gloria, was a choir director for the Southampton Seventh-day Adventist Church, his father Raymond sang as does his sister Lisa Smith. He attended Atlantic Union College in Boston in the 1980s before studying accounting at York University in Canada. After graduating, he went on to study recording engineering at the Trebas Institute in Toronto. He then joined what was to become Canada’s most popular gospel band, Selection, which toured Canada and the US. Mr Easton’s first recording studio was StudioVII, which he set up in Toronto with Tim Fray in 1992. He moved to Bermuda in 1998 and opened Just Platinum studio, where he worked with many musical legends including David Bowie, with whom he made regular recordings in the early 2000s. He also recorded Catherine Zeta Jones’s voice-overs for her T-Mobile adverts and wrote advertisements for corporations on the island. Glenn Blakeney, the founder of Bermuda Soul Records and chairman of Inter-Island Communications, worked closely with Mr Easton and said the news of his passing was “devastating” for the island. “He was one of the most selfless people that I know,” Mr Blakeney said. “He was always willing to assist particularly those who were aspiring to be in the music industry. We go back many years and started our writing and producing jingles together. He was a consummate professional and very knowledgeable about the music industry. He has worked with so many different people. He did a master class seminar along with Orville Malcolm and Bruce Swedien, who is renowned for being the engineer on all Michael Jackson produced by Quincy Jones. Bruce had offered the chance to do an audio engineering class with him in Florida. They were selected among seven or eight people around the world to attend and were graded highest among those who attended the class. He was an unsung hero, he was humble, he just went very quietly about doing what he did best to help other people in their musical aspirations.” Elmore Warren, owner of Fresh TV, described Mr Easton as a world-class singer with a commitment to high-quality music. Mr Warren said: “The nice thing is, he has a legacy that time is never going to forget.” DJ Jason Ford, also known as Jugglin Jason, said Mr Easton was instrumental in helping him. He said: “I’ve known Steve for more than 20 years. Obviously we found that we both had a common interest when it came to music. He revolutionized production here on the island. He was always willing to sacrifice his time even though you may have been in competition with him.” Mr Easton leaves behind his wife Shevy, his daughters Loren “Bunni” Ramey, Tia Easton and Stephanie Easton, his brothers Shondell Easton and Mikko Ingham, and his sister Lisa Smith.
Rebecca Faulkenberry. 2016. December 14. Bermuda’s Rebecca Faulkenberry is getting set to play a role in Broadway’s ‘Groundhog Day,’ which opens in March 2017 in New York City. A report from Broadway.com said “The Citizens of Punxsutawney have been announced. Barrett Doss and more will appear alongside Andy Karl in Broadway’s Groundhog Day." The much-buzzed about tuner is set to begin performances on March 16, 2017 at the August Wilson Theatre and officially open on April 17. Newcomer Doss [You Can’t Take It With You] will star as Rita Hanson. The ensemble company will feature Rebecca Faulkenberry [Rock of Ages], John Sanders [Matilda], Andrew Call [Found], Raymond J. Lee [Honeymoon in Vegas], Heather Ayers [Young Frankenstein], Kevin Bernard [Billy Elliot], Gerard Canonico [Spring Awakening], Rheaume Crenshaw [Amazing Grace], Michael Fatica [She Loves Me], Katy Geraghty [Shrek], Camden Gonzales [Matilda], Jordan Grubb [Mary Poppins], Taylor Iman Jones [American Idiot], Tari Kelly [Something Rotten!], Josh Lamon [Finding Neverland], Joseph Medeiros [Matilda], Sean Montgomery [Matilda], William Parry [Sunday in the Park with George], Jenna Rubaii [American Idiot], Vishal Vaidya [1776 at Encores!], Travis Waldschmidt [Wicked] and Natalie Wisdom [Billy Elliot].
Marvin Ford. 2018. February 3. Bermudian Marvin Ford has joined the touring cast of a musical written by rock star Sting. Mr Ford said he was surprised to have landed his first professional role in The Last Ship. He said: “My first thought was that they were joking. I was shocked.” Mr Ford, a regular on the Bermuda stage, left the island several years ago to pursue a career as a horse trainer. He was lured back on stage by his wife, who signed him up to appear as an “unexpected star” on Michael McIntyre’s Big Show in December, but it was his work in Bermuda that landed him an audition for The Last Ship. Mr Ford said: “The musical director for the show, Richard John, was actually the musical director for The Full Monty when we performed it in Bermuda. They were looking for someone to do the part. Richard suggested that they look for a singer and go from there. I got a call at 8am on a Wednesday and I had my audition on Thursday.” He said having Mr John there made the audition more comfortable, but he didn’t feel he had sung his best. Mr Ford added: “I don’t know what they saw, but I got the call the next day saying I had the part.” The Last Ship tells the story of the return of Gideon Fletcher to the Tyneside shipbuilding town of Wallsend after 15 years to find the community facing an uncertain future. The story is based on the life of Sting, who is from the town, and features some of his popular songs including Island of Souls, All This Time and When We Dance. The show enjoyed a brief run on Broadway and won two Tony Award nominations. The touring production will be the first performances in Britain. Mr Ford said rehearsals for the show begin in London on Monday and the actors will move to Newcastle before the show’s opening on March 12. The production will spend four weeks in Newcastle before embarking on a tour of the British Isles, with performances in Liverpool, Cardiff, Dublin, Edinburgh and York. The show is directed by Lorne Campbell and features set design by the Tony Award-winning 59 Productions, the team behind the video design for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Jeremy Frith. A celebrated Bermudian poet and musician who died in 2009. Mr Frith received acclaim for his 1996 collection Oh Gawd, I Vish Dis Ig’rance Vud Stop!, which featured a range of poetry and verse about life on the island, largely written in Bermudian vernacular.
Candace Furbert. Actress, singer, dancer. At the age of 22 she began her employment in the West End, London, where she appears now. In November 2017 she landed a part in a show in London’s prestigious West End based on the career of singing legend Tina Turner. Ms Furbert will appear in Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. Ms Furbert is an experienced performer on the London stage. She was a part of the original London cast of The Book of Mormon and played the Dragon in the UK touring production of the Shrek musical. She last year appeared in the hit show Dreamgirls in London. Ms Furbert was in the limelight in Bermuda in the 2016 Troika production of The Colour Purple, where she played Celie. The Tina Turner show was written by Olivier Award-winning playwright Katori Hall and directed by Phyllida Lloyd. The Tina Turner musical will open in March at London’s Aldwych Theatre.
"Big Daddy Gates." Died July 21, 2017. A legend from the heydays of musical local entertainment, he died in Florida at the age of 77. Known universally by his stage name, Donald Galloway performed alongside world-famed bands and Motown luminaries as well as the island’s top musicians. Lucky enough to know Stevie Wonder as “a tremendous guy”, Mr Galloway could list a pantheon of names he had worked alongside: the Marvelettes, the Shangri-Las, the Temptations, Solomon Burke, Jackie Wilson, Joe Tex, Marvin Gaye, Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield, the Supremes, Lou Rawls, and Martha and the Vandellas. He recalled taking the stage in Bermuda with Little Anthony and the Imperials, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Sister Sledge, and the Isley Brothers — then featuring Jimi Hendrix on guitar and Buddy Miles on drums. Married for 53 years, Mr Galloway credited his wife Ursula for keeping him grounded. Mr Galloway’s first stage act was a duo called the Stepsters with his brother Kenneth, known as “Little Gates” — but his career as an MC was his instant, definitive success. “I started working with one of my mentors, Olive Trott, when I got started in the business,” he told the Mid-Ocean News in 1996. I MCd my first show when I was 17 years old, at the Clay House Inn. I wasn’t old enough to be in the club, but I was the MC anyway. If I’m not mistaken, it was the Supremes, on their first visit to Bermuda.” A charismatic performer, Mr Galloway effortlessly charmed crowds. Offering condolences to his family, former MP and music historian Dale Butler said he “mesmerised Bermuda with his ability to describe entertainers and bands performing at the Rosebank as though they were at Carnegie Hall. He was never lost for words and was always well dressed with a beaming smile and effervescent Bermuda personality. Producers knew that if they wanted a successful concert, they had to have Big Daddy Gates. May he rest in peace.” An actor as well as a promoter, Mr Galloway spent some of his career abroad, including at London’s famed Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, where he performed with other Bermudians in the Electric Soul People. Musician Lance Furbert remembered his first full-time job with the Arpeggios, the band that backed Mr Galloway. “I learnt so much from the guy. He was enthusiastic about everything; he had a ball. One time I made a mistake and he said, ‘Don’t worry about it. If you look happy, the people are happy; if you’re enthusiastic, they are too’ — which is true. He was certainly a great help to me, and a really dynamic entertainer.” A drummer, Mr Furbert was advised by an older musician: “Just watch his leg, and you’ll never be out of time. We went to Trinidad to work in 1966. On the way, the band leader and a few other guys said he never learnt the words to songs, just got up there and made it happen. In Trinidad, with calypso, people were used to the words, so the band asked him to please learn them. He got up on the stage and just talked nonsense — but the people loved him like he was James Brown; it was incredible.” For one of his signature songs, Give Me Money, crowds would oblige by tossing notes onto the stage. Mr Furbert recalled “Big Daddy” telling him that he bought his first car that way. “He went through different outfits. After each act he’d come out in a different suit — a green suit with a white cape, then a burnt orange suit. He’d come to work with four or five changes. Audiences would wonder what he’d come out with next.” Asked what he would say to a youngster set on becoming an MC, Mr Galloway said: “I’d advise him to be the best at his craft. Being an old hand, I’d give him as much pointers as possible. It may not be as lucrative here as in the US or the UK. I believe one has to market one’s self. I know that when people see Big Daddy Gates is MCing, people come to see the show and know it’ll be all right.”
Alphonso Harris, Big Al, was a Bermuda music legend, a phenomenal pianist and made a significant contribution to the development of live music in Bermuda. By 1945, Big Al formed his own 12-piece orchestra and later his Calypso Band. In addition to being an accomplished pianist, he also coached many aspiring vocalists such as Pam White and Violetta Carmichael.
Lance Hayward. Born in Spanish Point, Pembroke, in 1916 he was blind but as a pianist he and his quartet created their own unique claim to fame in Bermuda and the USA. At 13, he was sent to the Perkins School for the Blind in Massachusetts. It was here, his son Stuart Hayward says, that the musician refined his craft. When he returned to the island after three years abroad, he began a career in music that would last almost 60 years. It began modestly enough in local churches, but soon Hayward was a fixture in the island's nightclub circuit and was the accompanist of choice for artists like Carmen McRae and Marvin Gaye when they performed in Bermuda. Then, in the Golden Age of Bermudian tourism, he arranged and directed the Hayward & Hayward Ensemble, a mixed-voice chorus that toured the island's packed hotels. In the '50s and '60s it was hard for musicians when the hotels closed in the winter, soHayward took his act to Jamaica where he found employment at a hotel on the island's north-west coast. The membership of his quartet changed over the years, but it then included the likes of Milton Robinson, Frankie Roban, Ernest Ranglin, Clarence (Tootsie) Bean and Max Smith. In 1963 he moved to New York City where a long career in the city's jazz clubs awaited him. He got his start at clubs like West Boondock and Jacques-in-the-Village until he moved to the Village Corner, where he appeared regularly for 16 years. While in Manhattan he formed the Lance Hayward Singers which continue to perform his choral arrangements. Though Hayward spent the rest of his life in the United States, he never lost touch with his island roots. His son says: "He would come back to Bermuda every year for Cup Match and Christmas or else my mother would go to visit him. That allowed them to spend time together and apart, which I think was good for their relationship. When he would come here he would play in the Bermuda Festival. I think he was one of the first Bermudians to have a spot in it." He died in November 1991, after a long fight with cancer. His obituary was published in The New York Times.
Mairéad Hickey. 2017. October 26. This Bermuda-born musician is to return to the island next week to perform with the Bermuda Philharmonic Society. This award-winning violinist said: “I am delighted to be returning to Bermuda to participate in Autumn Classics. I can’t wait to see my first violin teacher, Jyrki Pietila, and all my Bermuda friends again. I am really looking forward to performing some beautiful music with Bermuda’s musicians.” Autumn Classics will feature a range of local and international musicians performing pieces by Mozart, Haydn and Handel. The concert will be led by Alison Black, a Bermudian-based violinist and president of the society. Ms Black said: “The works we will be playing embody the very best of the classical period, full of rich colors, poise and beauty and evocative of the European style of the day. Having a Mozart concerto played by such a fine young artist will be a highlight.” The concert will be held at St John’s Church, Pembroke, on Sunday, November 5, starting at 7pm. Tickets cost $30 or $15 for students and seniors with $60 front-row seats for patrons. Ms Hickey has won numerous awards for her performances, including winning the Jeunesses Musicales International Violin Competition in Romania in 2012 and the Antonio Salieri prize in Italy in 2010. Ms Hickey said that her love of music began while she was on the island. She said: “My dad played in a lot of bands — three or four bands in Bermuda — and I used to follow him around. Then I had a really, really fantastic teacher, Jyrki Pietila. I started to take lessons four times a week.”
Jean Howes. Television personality and musician remembered as a dedicated, charitable, loving woman who lived her life to the fullest, despite being blind for most of her life. Mrs Howes, who celebrated her 90th birthday this year, passed away on August 15, 2016. Renowned for her entertainment and educational shows, she was determined not to be hindered by her blindness caused when she was struck in the eye with a stone at the age of just 9. She championed local musical talent and co-hosted the popular TV Christmas show with legendary Bermuda musician Gene Steede for some 20 years following her retirement. She was also a founding member of the Beacon Club in 1954 which was later to become the Bermuda Society for the Blind and traveled the island educating children about the danger of throwing stones. Her only son Terry Southern said his mother, who died just a few hours before the birth of her fifth great-grandchild Kenji, was a strong yet giving person. “She was a lovely mother — strict but patient. “She wrote a book of poems. I had a son named Aaron — he died about 40 years ago from cystic fibrosis. One of the poems is called A Letter To Aaron because they loved each other so much. She made about $8,000 from the sales but gave every single dollar away to charity. She was a very giving person. She would go to the hospital to sing until she was getting so old I had to tell her to slow down. She had to be independent being blind. She would learn things by the hard knocks and would always have to know how to do something herself.” Michael Dunkley, the Premier, also paid tribute yesterday, saying: “She dedicated a great deal of her time to charitable work and despite being blind she had an independent spirit, led a full life and was an inspiration to us all.” The Progressive Labour Party added: “We thank Ms Howes for her dedication to our community, and we extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends during this most difficult time.” Mrs Howes moved from Nova Scotia to Bermuda at the age of two with her parents and four siblings but temporarily studied in Canada at a special school for children with sight loss. Returning to Bermuda, she took up a full-time job in the pricing department at Medical Hall where she remained for 35 years. She went on to become a talented musician, playing the piano, the accordion, the mouth organ and guitar. Along with her band she played at venues across Bermuda and also played at residential care homes and the hospital. In December 1993, she was awarded the Queen’s Certificate in the New Year’s honours list for her contribution to the island’s charities and the community. She later worked for Fernance Perry, former owner of the Bermuda Broadcasting Corporation, answering the phones at Mayfair Limited until her retirement when she took up his offer to start a music show. It was there that Ms Howes’s iconic holiday television show Jean and Gene’s Christmas was born. Her co-star Gene Steede described her as one of his best friends. “She is a big, big miss,” he said. “She was a wonderful, charitable person. She loved everybody and she never turned anybody down. It breaks me up just to think about it. It was easy to work with her because she was very talented. It was her show but she just made me feel a part of it. I liked to keep her laughing. She loved to laugh. She was one of my best friends. Musically you could do anything you liked — her favourite was country music. She was Bermuda’s Gene Autry,” he laughed. Mrs Howes’s love for country music was such that she would often call up radio personality David Lopes, who plays the genre often on his morning show. He recalled: “She would call me on the David Lopes Morning Show on Inspire FM and she sure was an inspiration! She did a Bermuda version of This Land is Your Land and she did a song called If You Could See the World Through The Eyes of a Child. She was always up — there was never a time that I ever spoke to her despite her being blind and her setbacks that she wasn’t positive.” Darlene Ming was the producer for her TV Christmas special and described Mrs Howes as being “in touch with the community. She had a real skill when it came to keeping her finger on the pulse of any type of new, unknown talent. Come October, when we were ready for production, she would come with a group signed, sealed and delivered. She was a wonderful person. She always tells the story about her mother who insisted that she should never pity herself because of her blindness. Her other senses were sharper; she was very intuitive and her memorisation was extraordinary — she didn’t use a telephone directory. It was all in her head.” Mrs Howes was the first blind resident to have a guide dog and taught Braille to people with visual impairments. She was a great advocate for the blind in Bermuda and in 2012 author Ellen Kelly wrote a book called Through My Eyes inspired by her life. President of the board of the Bermuda Society for the Blind, Amanda Marshall said: “She was the most famous blind person in Bermuda and was therefore an advocate, mentor and spokesperson. Jean really believed that being blind didn’t matter and that you should live life to the fullest — she showed everyone how to do that. From our point of view she was the spirit that we hope everyone with vision loss in the community would embody.” Her friend Ronnie Lopes described her as “a wonderful, giving person”. “She would call me up out of the blue and say ‘hey bie, I need you to play the drums for me on such-and-such a day — I’ll see you when you get there — it was not ‘can you do it?’ [Laughs]. And when I got there she was so gracious and nice — so thrilled and happy. You couldn’t tell her ‘no’ when she asked you something and you know why? Because she would never refuse anyone. She made you feel so important, like you were larger than life. She was the one who was my hero, she just didn’t know it.” Mrs Howes lived at Westmeath residential home for 13 months and in the last month her health started to deteriorate. She was married twice, first to Lorraine George Southern and then to George Howes. She leaves behind her son Terry, three grandchildren — Julie, Kelly and Cecilia — and five great-grandchildren, Jamie, Aaron, Charlie, Kayla and Kenji.
Ronald Lightbourne. Artist, musician, activist and teacher. Died June 25, 2018. Was hailed as Bermuda’s “renaissance man”. An accomplished piano and trumpet player, Mr Lightbourne, who was 71, performed with top island artists in the heyday of Bermuda’s music scene. Gene Steede, a veteran musician who played with Mr Lightbourne at hotel venues for years, said Mr Lightbourne was a “brilliant” teacher. He added: “He was an excellent player and a writer and what made us friends is that I love comedy — he was a very funny man who loved to joke. He was a great guy who loved to travel — he spent time in Egypt, South Africa, you name it. He’d been there. Whenever I worked with him I had no worries. He was one of the best. “A great writer, generous and easygoing and soft-spoken — all the qualities of a great teacher and great friend.” Mr Steede added that Mr Lightbourne was also “a great cricketer” and “loved it, right to the end”. Meredith Ebbin, a journalist and historian, said Mr Lightbourne was “one of my dearest friends”. She added: “Our love of books, writers and writing established our friendship when we were young adults. A brief conversation would be all one needed to be aware of the breadth of his talents. He was a gifted writer, musician and a thinker.” Ms Ebbin added that Mr Lightbourne was a prominent member of Bermuda’s anti-apartheid movement and had lobbied for its abolition during his student teacher days in London during the 1960s, long before such activism became widespread. She said: “His friendship with the late Margaret Carter informed his activism on behalf of people with disabilities and his world view of inclusion for all, no matter your race, gender, nationality, ability or sexual orientation. Born in Guyana, he was a Bermudian, thanks to his Bermudian father, and a child of the Caribbean, because of his mother, who was from St Kitts. He did not live in Bermuda until he was a teenager when he entered The Berkeley Institute to do A-levels.” Mr Lightbourne’s parents Albert and Violet were Salvation Army officers who worked in several Caribbean countries during his childhood. Ms Ebbin said: “Their last posting before relocating to Bermuda was Jamaica, where Ron was educated at one of the island’s top schools.” She highlighted Mr Lightbourne’s “multifaceted” interests that made him “a poet, playwright, songwriter and mentor to writers”. Ms Ebbin said: “He spoke Spanish fluently. His wife Grisell was Cuban and he spent many summers in Cuba. He was a devoted son, husband, father, brother, and grandfather, and a friend to many, of all races and nationalities, both here and abroad.” Glenn Fubler, a community activist who taught alongside Mr Lightbourne at The Berkeley Institute, said he was “a renaissance man” mentored by musical great Lance Hayward. Angela Barry, a former Bermuda College lecturer and author, said Mr Lightbourne wrote plays like Dead Lines for the Bermuda Musical and Dramatic Society, and Wilson’s Weekend for Black Box productions. He was a member of the Bermuda Writers Collective, contributed fiction to several local anthologies, and received a James Michener creative writing fellowship at the University of Miami. Ms Barry said his poetry earned him invitations to overseas conferences. Mr Lightbourne was also a regular contributor to the Bermudian literature class at Bermuda College and presented a variety of classes at the Lifelong Learning Centre. Dale Butler, a historian and former Progressive Labour Party minister, said Mr Lightbourne was one of Bermuda’s “truly best” trumpeters and pianists. Mr Butler added: “I don’t think he ever received the recognition that he deserved. He was very humble, always trying to be of assistance.” Mr Butler said he had hired Mr Lightbourne as an English teacher when he was principal of St George’s Secondary School. David Burt, the Premier, said in the House of Assembly yesterday that Mr Lightbourne was “without question instrumental in the arts in Bermuda”. The Premier was among several MPs who knew Mr Lightbourne as a musician, a teacher and friend. Jeanne Atherden, the Opposition leader, told MPs that Mr Lightbourne had been an asset to the island’s West Indian Association, but was a special help to residents who wanted to visit Cuba at a time when travel to the Caribbean island was restricted. Michael Weeks, the sports and social development minister, said he was taught saxophone at Berkeley by Mr Lightbourne, who later became a friend. Rolfe Commissiong, a PLP backbencher, added that Mr Lightbourne was “a quintessential renaissance man”. Mr Commissiong said: “There were few of his generation that shone brighter than him.” In addition to Grisell, Mr Lightbourne is survived by his son, Jonathan, daughter, Jessica, and stepdaughter, Shirley.
Roderick Anthony "Roddy" Marshall. Died December 2015. Song-writer, musician and fisherman. Roddy is survived by his brothers, Eddie (Jan), Jeffrey (Frances) and Allan (Kietny), and by his sisters, Norma (Mike deceased) and Joanne (Eugene). Roddy's parents, William and Blanche Marshall pre-deceased him.
Lawrence Minors. Died July 19, 2016. A popular member of Bermuda’s shrinking fraternity of veteran calypso artists, at the age of 73. The bassist played with the Bermuda Strollers, one of the island’s internationally known acts that grew out of the heyday of performers on the local hotel circuit. “Lawrence was my buddy; he had the finest personality in the world, really comical,” recalled Ridgley Darrell, a drummer for the group. The Bermuda Strollers went on to travel extensively through college towns and clubs in New England and Canada. Mr Darrell recalled early days at Elbow Beach, where the group performed for college crowds, and used material from the hotel’s “prettiest curtains in the world” for their first sets of trousers. “We went from there to the Forty Thieves for years, and places like Casey’s. We had a ball.” Led by Ted Ming with John Ming, the group featured Stan “Lord Necktie” Seymour and Rudy Ford; musicians such as Lance Furbert also played with the Strollers, whose sound was billed as rock calypso. Mr Minors had come from an earlier group, the Sprites. Mr Furbert, taken on as a drummer with the Bermuda Strollers, recalled him as a highly accomplished player. “An inventive, very solid player who held the band together,” Mr Furbert said. “He actually partially taught me to play the bass. When he got tired of touring he was kind enough to stay on and coach me.” Mr Minors was “a terrific bass player who was doing things that later became popular; for example, he was one of the first guys I saw thump to the bass with his thumb”. Mr Furbert added: “Minors was the kind of guy who, when you least expected it, would come out with something really funny. He had a quiet sort of way; you never knew what he was going to say.” A resident of Roberts Avenue in Devonshire, Mr Minors moved to Lorraine Rest Home. Mr Seymour described him as “a hell of a nice guy, likeable, very talented and a very good performer — we got along well. I will always remember him. He did a lot for entertainment in Bermuda. A lot of the guys I worked with are gone. I just turned 87; I hope they are not calling me. We had a fantastic time singing on the cruises, working all the hotels. As I said, most are gone. Time will do that.”
David Moniz. Died March 2015. Celebrated local musician and original member of popular band The Bermuda Strollers. They reached international fame in the 1970s and 1980s, playing iconic songs such as Bermuda Buggy Ride, Bermuda is Another World and Yellow Bird. The group, led by Ted Ming, also performed regularly on the annual Jerry Lewis Telethon, giving them exposure across the east coast. Mr Moniz was inducted into the Bermuda Music Hall of Fame in 2014.
William Moniz. Died June 2018. Better known as Dennis, he was remembered as a passionate and prolific performer who lived for music. Andrew Chamberlain, a veteran musician, said he was introduced to Mr Moniz’s music as a teenager. Mr Moniz’s band Life Sentence played at Mr Chamberlain’s Mount Saint Agnes school dance. Mr Chamberlain said: “Here was this revolutionary funk band, mostly all black guys, not playing rock and roll but blasting out this amazing funk sound very loudly in an all-white school chaperoned by all these nuns. They left an impression, believe me.” Mr Chamberlain was speaking after Mr Moniz, who was 66, died last week, days after his bicycle was in collision with a motorbike on Middle Road, Devonshire. Mr Chamberlain said he later recorded some tracks with Life Sentence and also performed with Mr Moniz in a band called Better Half. He added the two had played together since 1978. Mr Chamberlain said his good friend was a “typical artist”. He added: “To say we always got along would be a lie. You couldn’t argue with him, but he was one of the most influential people in my music career.” Mr Chamberlain said Mr Moniz was fearless and an old-school Bermudian performer. He explained: “He could engage with the visitors and really get them on his side. Those who saw him perform as a percussionist would be treated to something truly special. He literally could make his congas talk, and he had more rhythm in his pinky than I had in all ten of my fingers. Like many of the great artists, we shall speak of him as one of a kind.” Dale Butler, author of Music on the Rock, said that he greatly admired Mr Moniz and that his passing was a “great loss to Bermuda”. He added: “I just regret never having the opportunity to interview him.” Mr Butler’s book detailed many of Bermuda’s most prominent musicians. He said Mr Moniz played a key role in getting local band The Unit into the 2009 Havana International Jazz Festival. Mr Butler added: “Dennis was key in winning the audition, although unfortunately he was unable to go.” Kandyelyn Pimentel said her older brother had been a performer since he was a child. Ms Pimentel said: “The stage was his world.” She added when they were children he would perform James Brown songs at the former Clayhouse Inn on North Shore. Ms Pimentel added: “The crowd would just go crazy.” She said that music was all her brother ever wanted to do and was “his calling, his passion, his life”. Danilee Trott, Mr Moniz’s niece, added he was an outgoing man who was “always on stage, even when he was home”. She said: “He was playing music, or he was practicing music, or he was dancing with my grandmother, or singing to her or writing a song. There wasn’t much else, it was all just entertainment. He lived to perform.” She added her uncle was a “true Bermuda ambassador”. Ms Trott said: “He loved tourists and he loved visitors. He was the musician that others could count on when acts needed support. He didn’t have his own transportation, but he was so valuable to everybody that they would literally come to the house and pick him up. He could just pick up anything — he just knew it.” Ms Trott said that her uncle was also passionate about animals and fishing, and was a devoted and loving son. She added: “He was just a genuine person. He had his challenges, but he had a good heart.” Mr Moniz was father to one son, also named Dennis.
Charles Ebenezer Norford. Founding father of Bermuda Gombeys.
Heather Nova. (born Heather Allison Frith. )2018. January 11. Bermudian International recording artist Heather Nova will perform in tribute to her uncle Jeremy Frith as part of the Bermuda Festival. Ms Nova, along with Christina Frith, will join Kim Dismont Robinson, Patrika Ferguson, Nick Hutchings, Debbie Lombardo and others for The Uniquely Bermudian Musings of Jeremy Frith and Friends. The show will highlight the work of Mr Frith, a celebrated Bermudian poet and musician who died in 2009. Mr Frith received acclaim for his 1996 collection Oh Gawd, I Vish Dis Ig’rance Vud Stop!, which featured a range of poetry and verse about life on the island, largely written in Bermudian vernacular.
Joe Pimentel. One of the three original members of the Travellers of Bermuda.
Helena Pipe. 2018. June 23. She had no idea the challenges she would face when deciding to leave home and pursue a career in British theatre. The hardest part? Trusting God in the midst of uncertainty. However the experience helped the 30-year-old grow her faith. She’s now in her biggest role to date as part of the ensemble cast in Britain of the long-running Broadway musical, Oklahoma! Ms Pipe was “overwhelmed with joy” on opening night at the Grange Park Opera this month. “I didn’t let it show as I didn’t want to be an emotional mess in the dressing room. However, as I journeyed back home on the bus I couldn’t contain the tears,” she said. “I reached one of my dreams and I was overwhelmingly thankful to God. Everything He promised had happened and nothing I had gone through had been in vain.” She went through some dark and lonely days after moving to England nearly 18 months ago. Finding work was tough in the beginning; she had to rely on her family for financial support. “I applied for jobs that would work well for the schedule of an actor and I wouldn’t hear anything back or I’d simply not get them,” she recalled. “One place turned me down because ‘I didn’t have the right energy’. I’m still scratching my head at that one. I needed to work, so I humbled myself and signed up with an agency to clean houses. Having to clean houses was potentially my worst nightmare, but I did it and I’m very glad I did. I grew so much in my faith during that time. I would listen to sermons every time I cleaned a new house. I literally worshipped my way through scrubbing toilets and I would do it again if I had to.” To cope with some of her anxiety and depression, she started seeing a therapist who she described as a “true Godsend. All these things happened before I got on the stage in Oklahoma!, and that’s exactly why I speak of God’s strategic and perfect timing. Each one of these things has prepared me for where I am now. He knows all things.” Her agent got the audition for Oklahoma!. Although she felt confident, she wasn’t sure if she would get the job after she missed a chorus in her audition song. She was shocked when her agent called and said she had a role in the month-long production. It was her first official casting since leaving Bermuda. The experience has taught her a lot. For starters, God is in control. Every situation she’s been through has served as a lesson, test, or opportunity to grow her faith. “Even the darkest days have aligned me to His glory and for that He will always receive all of my praise,” she said. “When I first moved, after all the excitement of moving had worn off, I was very closed-off. I didn’t really want to go anywhere and being alone was my safety. Now I’m learning to be more open to saying yes to things, making connections with people of different backgrounds, challenging myself to share more of who I am with strangers, and experiencing life overall. Life is about experiences and there’s so much to learn from people who aren’t like you.” She’s also more self-aware than she’s ever been and has found that no matter how weak or down she feels, God’s strength can always carry her through. “Listen to God. If He tells you to stop, then stop, and when He tells you to go, go,” she advised. “Trust the process, if it doesn’t happen the way you intended that’s okay. God’s plans are greater than we can imagine. Stand strong in your faith, remember who you are in Him and never forget that He has the final say. Don’t compare yourself with anyone else, be good to people, and trust your journey.”
Cyril Richardson. Died in late August 2016 at the age 78. Mr Richardson, one of the greats of Bermuda’s music scene, was well on his way to being inducted into the Bermuda Music Hall of Fame for his long career dedicated to entertaining as a pianist and organist. Family and friends say there wasn’t a major Bermuda venue he hadn’t played at and he had performed with all of the best musicians the island had produced. Aside from his music he was a loving family man — father of nine children, one of whom, Ralph — passed away last year. His son Cyril Jr said: “He was a devoted father. He raised and took care of nine children and managed to keep us all fed, clothed and schooled and he was a real strict disciplinarian. He was loving and supportive of whatever endeavors we pursued. He would always help if someone wanted to take up music and would send us to music lessons. He has always had his own band and if you can name all the greats that played on the island he definitely played with them. He had the Richardson Quartet — he always had his own thing going. He toured Europe and did some stints in the US and all around playing his music. Music was his life but he didn’t start up with music, he started in construction and in the stone quarry. He was an outstanding person and a role model. He is going to be one of those greats of Bermuda who will be missed greatly.” Throughout the years Mr Richardson played at countless venues including the Jungle Room, the Musicians Club, Sea View, Clayhouse Inn and Swizzle Inn. He was known in recent years for performing in the Doc Simons Trio with Edwin ‘Doc’ Simons on saxophone and Clarence ‘Tootsie’ Bean on drums. Mr Bean recalled: “I met Cyril years ago. I went abroad to play music and came back about nine years ago. When I came back Doc Simons came and got me and said him and Cyril wanted to form as trio — the Doc Simons Trio — so we did some rehearsing and we went to work down at Swizzle Inn. We used to play down the Jungle Room. We played together about three years, then Doc Simons got sick. Cyril and I played with Max Maybury for a while. Cyril was a very good musician — any tune you called he knew and he was good at learning new tunes. He had a drive on the organ bass that I don’t think anyone else in Bermuda ever had. We played a little jazz, a little rock and calypso and blues because Doc liked to sing blues. Cyril was a good guy, easy going, never complained about anything — we were always joking. He was well versed in all the happenings in Bermuda and about the world. He took some trips too, I believe. When I came back from abroad Cyril had retired and when he heard that I was joining the band he said “well, if Tootsie is going to play, I’ll come back out”. Publisher and author of Music on the Rock, Dale Butler, said he was planning to enter Mr Richardson into the Bermuda Hall of Fame, which can still be done posthumously, and was saddened that he didn’t get to interview him on video before his passing. Mr Butler said: “He was about to be inducted. Had we not lost the facility it was my intention to induct him given his outstanding service which meant we would have had an opportunity to interview him on video but I never got the chance. He was an organist — one of the best ever produced. In his last combo he was playing with Clarence ‘Tootsie’ Bean and Edwin ‘Doc’ Simons. They played for a number of shows including at the Swizzle Inn. He was known as a jazz performer — piano but mainly organ. I would say he played in every single hotel and nightclub in Bermuda. He was a very likeable and quiet sort of guy. He took his music very, very seriously. It is a great loss to Bermuda because he gave first class service in everything he did. He played a number of years ago at the Showcase for local talent over at Elbow Beach and he was really able to captivate the audience’s attention. He did a first class job.” Mr Richardson leaves behind Marlene Scraders, Cyril Jr, Dianne, Michelle Lewis, Neville, Jean Ann Edwards, Rachael Robinson, Leon, Leo and the mother of his children Phyllis Gayle.
Celeste Spencer Robinson, Bermuda's Queen of Calypso, reluctantly entered the calypso scene when Lancelot and Robert Hayward heard her unique raspy voice and wrote her into their stage show at the Opera House. Her popularity was at its peak when she sang with Kingsley Swan's band at Angel's Grotto and then later at Harmony Hall with Al Harris. In 1958 she toured the military bases in the US with Preston's Love Band and two years later to every American state with Dinah Washington, her highlight was a weeklong appearance at the famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem, New York.
Milton Robinson. One of the Island's greatest jazz musicians, acclaimed as the "father of every musician here" died in May 2010 at the age of 77 after collapsing at the Bermuda School of Music. He was trained in classical guitar and up to his last days was still improving his skills in cello and composing new songs. He leaves behind a wife of 52 years Renee, and three children Dawn, 50, Michelle, 48, and Dean, 42; as well as grandchildren Bradley Mitchell, Joshua Wood and Isaiah Sousa. Mr. Robinson was the only child of Bermudian Fred (String) Robinson and Canadian Eileen Gibson. He was brought up around music and taught himself to play guitar while in high school in Montreal. He never put the guitar down and after studying for some time in Canada, returned to the Island to perform with the Lance Hayward quartet, performing at hotels around Bermuda and Jamaica. He played the flute, the steel pans, the trombone, electric base, the classical guitar and more.
Terry “Termite” Simmons. Died in January 2017, aged 62. He personified Bermuda’s unique Gombey art form — not only dancing, but creating the elaborate Gombey regalia. His handiwork still proudly adorns the St Monica’s Road residence of daughters Dawnae and Terrieka, and their mother, Dawnette Simmons. Mr Simmons grew up near by at the family homestead in Government Gate, where he first heard the distinctive drumming of the Gombeys and joined at an early age. He joined his godfather Charles Norford’s troupe as a child and performed with other groups, devoting himself to the Gombeys for the rest of his life. “Termite” was also a footballer and played for Centaurs, North Village and Young Men’s Social Club in his early days — and worked for more than 30 years at the Bermuda Telephone Company. Mr Simmons was also a sous chef at the Fairmont Southampton, additionally working for MarketPlace’s produce section, and Redeem Construction as a mason. Former MP Dale Butler, a Gombey scholar and cousin of Mr Simmons, recalled him as “a personable, well-known, extremely friendly young man. He had passion for Gombey dancing, its history, and for remembering the older performers. It ran in his veins. He was talented, gifted, and had the greatest respect for the tradition.” Deeply committed to the culture, Mr Simmons passed on Gombey traditions to his family — most recently to his grandson, Ricaija.
Edwin “Doc” Simons. Died on November 23, 2015 at the age of 75. Celebrated Bermudian saxophonist and mechanic. His younger sister, Maxine Dillas, described Mr Simons as a consummate hard worker, dedicated to his family, engines and entertaining the public. “That was his life,” she said. “He would work on cars and boats all day and then play music at night. He never liked to sit down. He was always a very loving brother to me, and a caring father to his two boys who did everything he could to make sure they were on the right path.” Mr Simons first became involved in the local music scene at the age of 18 under the influence of guitarist Jimmy Landy and later Ghandi Burgess. He, along with Mr Landy and Calvin Carmichael, formed a band called The Arpeggios, who became a local fixture, sharing the stage with artists including the Blues Brothers, Jimi Hendrix and even a 14-year-old Stevie Wonder. The band were a staple of the Island’s nightlife, performing for thousands of visiting college students at Elbow Beach. The saxophonist later formed a second band, The Warren Experience, joined by Harold Pimental on bass, Howard Rego and later Peter Profit on drums and Darrell Fubler on keyboards. The band regularly performed at the Guinea Discotheque on Burnaby Street and were a fixture at The Reefs. Off the stage, Mrs Dillas said Mr Simons was fascinated by engines and developed a reputation at a young age as a skilled mechanic. “He was so well known people would just call him all the time, so he set up a business out of his home and people would find him there all day, even in the wee hours,” she said. “He always wanted to help everybody. He was such a people person. People kept on asking him to look at their boats, so he bought a little boat so he could go out and repair boat engines. He was just so well known and well liked.” While a stroke kept Mr Simons from the stage for several years, Mrs Dillas said he worked hard to recover and was later able to return to the music scene, performing with the Doc Simons Trio. Fellow saxophonist Wendell “Shine” Hayward expressed his condolences to Mr Simons’s friends and family yesterday. “Doc will always be remembered for the energy that he brought on and off the stage,” he said. “Although he was not a very technical player, he surely made up for that with his soulfulness and ability to read an audience to know exactly what was needed to either have them singing, dancing or simply giving up that applause. He has been a miss for a while, long before his passing.” Author and historian Dale Butler described Mr Simons as a “giant of a saxophone player”, recalling his days performing at The Hog Penny and Hubie’s.
George Smith, died October 17, 2008 at the age of 67. A well-known entertainer who sang with his father, the late calypsonian Hubert Smith, in the Coral Islanders band. He also had his own group, Xanadu, and played the maracas, congo drums and guitar besides singing. He had four children, Stacey, Sonya, Scott and Sean Smith, 12 grandchildren and one great grandchild. In addition to being an entertainer, he also worked as a self-employed painter and enjoyed deep sea fishing. A Justice of the Peace and former president of the Diabetes Association, Mr. Smith suffered a stroke in 1999. His death was due to a combination of diabetes, stroke and kidney failure. As well as playing local hotels and guest houses, Mr. Smith had also entertained Princess Margaret and Prince Charles during royal visits to Bermuda and travelled with his music overseas. He was given Government awards for his contribution to tourism and in the 1970s was also handed a bravery award for saving a child's life.
Hubert Smith, who died on December 3, 2001 at the age of 83 after a massive heart attack started to play around with the ukulele when 6 years old; at nine he began writing jingles about his friends; by 13, he was singing to tourists on Front Street; at 15 he was spotted by local bandleader Mark Williams, 'grandfather of local jazz', who took Hubert under his wing to play and sing at the Colonial Opera House. In 1951 he formed his own band, the Coral Islanders, known nearly as much for their colorful attire as for the quality of their music. He was such a hit at Clay House Inn that Hamilton Princess invited him to play there. He eventually became the hotel’s music director. Hubert wrote more than fifty songs, the most famous being Bermuda is Another World. He performed for US President John F Kennedy and the Queen at Government House. Hubert was founder and first president of the Bermuda Musicians Union. He was asked to compose a song initially entitled 'Bermuda is Different World' in 1969 for a briefing tour. On his year-round ritual morning swim at Spanish Point, he composed the entire song - lyrics and music composition - but made the change from 'different' to 'another' to create his signature piece and the island's unofficial national anthem. He became a legend in the local music scene, spent 70 years in the business, was a major influence in shaping the traditional sound of Bermudian music, such as calypso and jazz. But his dedication to the local music scene went far beyond his singing and song writing talents. His son George spent about thirty years with him working with his band The Coral Islanders. He traveled extensively for the Department of Tourism spreading the culture of Bermuda to the US, England and Canada. He was a true ambassador for Bermuda. Also he was a music ambassador for the Department of Tourism when ever it went to the USA to drum up business. He was a keen golfer and a founding member of the Ocean View Golf Club. In 2002, the late Hubert Smith was singled out for a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Bermuda Arts Council.
Kenneth Smith. 94 in 2016. (His father, Arthur Smith, was the band leader for the Warwick Amateur Marching Band). Before and during World War he worked until 9pm as a ship machinist on submarines, battle cruisers and other vessels. But he was determined to continue with music in some way, so he taught himself to play the drums. In 1945 Ernie Leader, one of the top band leaders in Bermuda at the time, invited him to play with his orchestra. He left after six months, playing with well-known band leader Al Davi at Belmont and later, the Freddie Matthews Band at Castle Harbour. He was then approached by piano player Earl Darrell to help form a new group, the Aldarnos, later the Aldano Sextette. Other members came and went, but he stayed from 1955 until 2004. He was awarded the Queen’s Badge of Honour in 2002 for musical contributions.
Kenneth 'Sonny' Flood, Kenneth 'Joe' Hayward, Robert 'Duke' Joell and Cecil Emery started playing together in the 1940s. The Four Deuces were renowned for their aptitude for rhythm. The ukulele and an upbeat tempo that made you move your feet created their distinct sound. Besides calypso, they also performed rumba, samba and the waltz.
Stan Seymour, Lord Necktie. Calypsonian, one of a long line of superb local entertainers whose names became household words, among them his friends and mentors, the Talbot Brothers. He once sang with Hubert Smith and the Coral Islanders. Like his grandfather, James Seymour, before him, `Lord Necktie' not only sings, but is also a one-man band who plays harmonica, guitar and drums. Some of his songs have become legends, including `Diddly Bops and Gooseneck Handlebars', which The Merrymen of Barbados also recorded. Hesang for Lord Mountbatten just before he died, and for Princess Margaret he composed and sang a calypso "Streakin' Rosie." Thrice-crowned `King of Calypso' in competitions, he is also an author and artist. He published `Bermuda Folklore and Calypso Poems', and together with his wife and fellow artist Margaret recently painted the mural of Horseshoe Bay on a pre-admissions ward at the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
Lucinda Spurling. Award-winning Bermudian Filmmaker, best known for directing Rare Bird and The Lion and the Mouse.She has a Bachelors degree in Communications from Tulane University, and a Masters in Film and Television from Bristol University. She worked as a journalist and editor in Britain, prior to starting her own independent film production company ‘Afflare Films’ in 2002. Her company’s productions range from commercials, dramas to documentaries for local museums. In 2009 she was awarded the Doreen Lightbourn/Lionel Pearman Award by the Bermuda Ministry of Culture and Social Rehabilitation and Department of Community and Cultural Affairs. The award honours people or projects which focus on Bermuda’s history and culture. Her films have won numerous awards including Indie Fest 2009- Award of Excellence, The Lion and the Mouse; Nevada Film Festival- Golden Reel Award-2009; National Trust Award 2009- The Lion and the Mouse; Audience Award, Bermuda International Film Festival 2009, for The Lion and the Mouse; Special Jury Award, Bermuda International Film Festival, 2006, Rare Bird; Special Jury Remi Award, Worldfest Houston Film Festival 2007, Rare Bird; Honourable Mention, International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula Montana, Rare Bird; Documentary Award, The York Film Festival, 2001, The Light That Followed. Her first feature documentary “Rare Bird” is about a boy who discovered a cahow; a species thought to be extinct for over 300 years. Produced in 2006, the documentary has been shown on the PBS Channel, and at film festivals locally, in North America and as far away as India and New Zealand. Lucinda's most recent film is Maternal Secrets, shot in 2017 and released in 2018, distributed by Marvista.
Gene Steede. Became known for his recording of the song 'Moongate,' and locally for his performance of the song 'Phantom of the Opera,' along with his writing and performing music for local commercials. He lives in Bermuda.
Pinky Steede. In 1959, she and her first husband, Gene Steede, became the stars of The Holiday Island Revue, organized by Don and Elspeth Gibson. The couple performed in all the local hotels throughout the 1960s. Among their albums: Step Through A Moongate with Gene and Pinky and You’re Gonna Hear from Us.The Steedes divorced and Ms Steede left Bermuda to take her career further. In 1978 she performed in London’s West End in the hit musical Bubbling Brown Sugar. While performing she met her current husband, Mike Wall, who was in the audience. At this time, she entertained Prince Charles in a Royal command performance. Throughout the 1980s she toured the world as a cabaret singer. She has appeared in such television programmes as The Pearl K-100 Show on TVB Hong Kong, Duets for Piano and Voice on Ireland’s RT Eire and a BBC adaptation of Bubbling Brown Sugar. In 1980 she took the lead role in the touring production of Guys and Dolls in Hong Kong. She was based there for 16 years. In 1994 she sang in Bermuda at a banquet featuring American comedian Bill Cosby. In 2000 she was a headline artist in the Millennium Celebration Show in Dockyard. In 2009, she was inducted into the Bermuda Musical Hall of Fame. Today, she sings in nightspots and casinos in the Algarve region of Portugal. Her latest album, Love Is, was made in 2014 in Portugal. She has two children, two stepchildren and 13 grandchildren.
The Talbot Brothers started as a "Barber shop" four-part harmony in the 1930s. The original members were Archie, Austin, Roy and their cousin Stovell. In the '30s, as part of a Government effort to promote Bermuda's tourism industry, the Talbot's and other families were relocated so that Tucker's Town could be developed as an enclave for the rich. (Today H. Ross Perot, the Texas businessman, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York own vacation homes there). Roy Talbot was born in Tucker's Town, Bermuda, one of ten siblings. His father cut coral stone in a quarry, and his mother played organ in the local Methodist church. When Roy, his brothers Archie and Austin and their cousin Ernest Stovell decided to form a singing group, Roy's mother instructed them in the intricacies of four-part vocal harmony while playing piano accompaniment. The group gained local fame performing at weddings and clubs. They first began their musical endeavors singing in church and then performing for their aunties and at private parties. They were prolific songwriters on the topics of love and current local and world issues. The Talbot Brothers were renowned for their spontaneity and ad-libbing and incorporating members of the audience into their songs. In the early '40s, as the new sounds of calypso drifted over from Trinidad, Roy, Archie and Austin joined with their brothers Bryan and Ross and their cousin Cromwell Manders to form the Talbot Brothers of Bermuda, a calypso group with a difference. Unlike Trinidadian calypso groups, the Talbot Brothers did not use percussion, except for an occasional conga drum, and their instrumentation was unusual: a blend of acoustic and electric guitars, harmonicas, a ten-string ukulele called a tiple, an accordion and Roy's booming bass. The group performed in floral shirts and straw hats. Bermuda Buggy Ride, a swing ballad recorded in the United States, made the Talbot Brothers the musical act that tourists to Bermuda wanted to see. In addition to original songs like Razor Razor and the nuclear-bomb ballad Atomic Nightmare ("I'm going to run, run, run like a son of a gun"), the group recorded popular cover versions of the calypso classic Yellow Bird and the infectious Is She Is, or Is She Ain't? which was originally recorded by Louis Eugene Walcott, professionally known as the Charmer, who later achieved fame as Louis Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam leader. Roy Talbot and his band of singing brothers were one of the major draws of the emerging nightclub scene back in the 1950s. In fact the band was so accomplished that their uniquely Bermuda-flavored sound travelled brilliantly. The band cut a number of discs in the US and also made numerous television appearances overseas The New York Times wrote this in May 2009. "Roy Talbot, the last surviving member of the original Talbot Brothers of Bermuda, one of the top calypso groups of the 1950s, died on May 15 in Paget, Bermuda. He was 94 and lived in Harris Bay. Mr. Talbot is survived by his wife, Mary; a sister, Etta Talbot; three sons, Delmont, Vance and Brent; seven grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren."
Mr. Talbot lent his voice to the Talbot's' distinctive blended harmonies and cut a striking figure onstage with his homemade bass - see photo above. Called the doghouse or the Bermudavarius, it was fashioned from a Swift meatpacking crate and had a single string made from fishing line. As the Talbot Brothers toured the world, fans would sign the instrument, among them Babe Ruth, Bing Crosby and Tommy Dorsey. In their heyday, the late 1940s and '50s, the Talbot Brothers were a major attraction at Bermuda's hotels and clubs and at the private homes of wealthy Americans who were discovering the island. Their popularity is often credited with playing an important role in putting Bermuda on the tourist map. Songs like Bermuda Buggy Ride and Bermuda's Still Paradise, with their smooth harmonies and easy, swinging beat, helped establish the islands' image as a carefree, no-worries leisure destination.
American enthusiasm for the group led to two appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and two albums on ABC Paramount Records, Calypsos and Talbot Brothers of Bermuda. Roy Talbot's nephew recently published a history of the group with two CDs, Bermuda's Famous Talbot Brothers: A Celebration in Pictures and Song. Although the Talbot Brothers stopped recording in 1962, they continued to perform until the 1980s.
Allan Warner. A Gombey captain deeply rooted in the traditions and culture of a quintessentially Bermudian art form, died on October 27, 2016 at the age of 59. “For him, it was all about keeping the heritage and the culture alive,” Mr Warner’s wife, Tracey, told The Royal Gazette. “He didn’t want the younger generation to lose it.” Beginning his career in 1959 at the age of 3, courtesy of his uncle Llewellyn “Termite” Warner, Mr Warner set about mastering every aspect of the Gombey: he emerged as a gifted dancer, created most of his first costume at the age of 9, and at 16 began drumming for Warner’s Gombeys, the troupe that he ultimately captained. Mr Warner championed the Gombey legacy, which blends African culture with American Indian, Caribbean and British elements. “The spirit of the Gombey is the core of one’s soul,” he said in an interview for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, adding that “every costume in my group depicts some African in its greatness”. In 1995, he became the first Gombey captain to receive the Queen’s Certificate of Honour, and his stature was acknowledged at last year’s Gombey Festival with special recognition from the Department of Community and Cultural Affairs. Under his leadership, Warner’s Gombeys represented the island worldwide, as well as touring establishments across Bermuda. The troupe was dedicated to performing at charity events every year, entertaining crowds at seniors’ homes and government school fairs. A stickler for the different rhythm patterns that connected with various dances, Mr Warner’s drumming was influenced by greats that included “Shorty” Maynard, Henry “Gropher” Wilson, Reginald “Way Way” Wainwright, Eugene “Pond Dog” Parsons, John “Pickles” Spence, Roy “Rocky” Hassell, Gerald “Beesie” Greene and Roy Young. His influence was picked up by other drummers such as David “Tootsie” Darrell, Gary “Sully” Wellman, Jimmy “Furb” Furbert, Ken “Ting” Douglas, Ricky “Rick” Smith, and Granville “Sticks” Hughes. Sylvan Richards, the Minister of Social Development and Sport, said yesterday that a giant had fallen whose “spirit, impact and legacy” would live on in hearts and minds. A keen follower of Gombey culture who had worked with Mr Warner at a local exempt company, Mr Richards recalled a running joke of being asked when he planned to join the troupe, where a costume was said to be waiting for him. He hailed Mr Warner as “a standard-bearer of preserving traditional Gombey culture”, and gave condolences on behalf of the Bermuda Government to his wife, his daughter, Algina, stepchildren Trakia and Rayshun, his special aunt, Janice Warner, and all other family and friends. A legend in his field, Mr Warner gladly contributed to research on Gombey culture. “Gombeys don’t stop,” he once said. “They just step aside and let somebody else come in.”
John White. He headed a prominent advertising agency in Bermuda and wrote many of the Bermuda songs for the Travellers of Bermuda - such as this lively one - see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erK4ELpTnzI, resided in Florida until he died on November 7, 2013 after having been unwell for some time. His death came as a great shock to many Bermudians and their friends.
Jack Whitney, died August 2015, at the age of 90. Mandolin-playing Mr Whitney was raised in the Riddell’s Bay area of Bermuda and attended Warwick Academy. At 17 he ran a small A1 grocery store in Riddell’s Bay and went on to form Jack Whitney and the Bermuda Plowboys in 1947. The group regularly performed at Rowley’s Guesthouse in Southampton as well as other venues on the Island. Mr Whitney also worked as an actor double for US star Sandy Kenyon in the US television series Crunch and Des that was filmed on Darrell’s Island in Bermuda. He married his first wife Verna Legge in 1956 and the couple had one daughter, Beth. After his first wife passed away, he later married his second wife Loraine in 2002. Up until a few years ago Mr Whitney and his musical friends including Jean Howes would entertain residents at care homes across the Island and patients at the hospital.
The late Jack Whitney, when younger
Reuben “Chico” Williams. Started his career making music in Bermuda but his “passion for music” led him to Canada where he ended up living for 45 years. At 77 years old, the popular Sixties musician died on August 5, 2016 after a long battle with cancer. He was born in Bermuda in 1939 and as a teenager he formed a group called the Bermuda Merrymakers, a calypso steel band that wrote an album titled At Horseshoe Bay under the Bermuda-based label Edmar Records, founded by well-known promoter Eddy DeMello. In 1969, a 30-year-old Mr Williams traveled to Newfoundland on a two-week booking with his band — and he didn’t return. There he formed a new band called Chico and Bermuda Life, playing the piano, guitar and singing island music to hundreds around the country. He also met his wife and best friend of 35 years, Betty, and became a blended family with five stepchildren and six of his own. Once Chico and Bermuda Life split up, Mr Williams continued to play his piano as a solo act, performing shows in several hotels before he retired in the late 1980s. He then went on to gospel music and played the organ for his local church choir, Cowan Heights United Church in St John’s for more than 20 years. In 2003, Mr and Mrs Williams moved home from St John’s to Bellevue. There he joined three different choirs — the Faith United Church, where he was a soloist, Norman’s Cove Pastoral Charge Choir and the community choir which performed and hosted benefits in the Trinity Bay area. Mrs Williams said: “Chico was extremely well known and well loved. He had a beautiful voice and his talents will be missed by many people.” Mr Williams is the brother of singer, body builder and martial artist Sensei Burnell Williams. “Chico was always a very passionate, talented and humorous person. He could make you laugh in two minutes. When he went to Canada with Lloyd Simmons and his band and did not come back, everyone told him, you must be crazy. But he loved it there.”
Lana Young. 2018. January 17. This Bermudian actor Lana Young won a role as a series regular on the latest show on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Erskine Zuill taught himself to play the ukulele, causing passing tourists to stop along the roadside to listen to him. He was Bermuda's first entertainer on board the cruise boat Pricilla and was renowned for singing for two hours straight and never repeating a song. Throughout his time as a musician, he contributed songs to many local records and released a solo album, 'Calypso at the Carlton Beach' with local producer Eddie DeMello.
Bermuda postage stamps issue to honor Bermudian musicians
For any performers not shown above, consult the:
Partly in honor of The Bermuda Islands Pipe Band and also because of the many Scots and Irish who are resident in Bermuda and Bermudians with Scots and Irish forebears, there are many recordings available in Bermuda of Scots and Irish bagpipe bands and bagpipers, both civilian and military. In the 18th and 19th centuries, an Irish unit of the British Army was here. Scottish regiments were several times in the British Army garrison here until 1953. A Canadian Scottish regiment was based in Bermuda for a while during World War 2. Their bagpipes and drums accompanied the soldiers on Church Parades from Prospect Garrison in Devonshire to the city of Hamilton, waterfront on Pitts Bay Road and back. The idea became a Bermuda civilian tradition.
Once there were two bagpipe bands here. One was the Bermuda Police Pipe Band which began in 1959. It proudly wore the Prince Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie") tartan. Composed at first largely of members of the Bermuda Police and Prison Services, and other local enthusiasts, including some formerly in the Cadets Pipe Band, they were soon performing at the Police Passing Out and ceremonial parades, a tradition maintained by the BIPB to this day.
There was also the older Bermuda Cadets Pipe Band, so-called because it originated in 1955 as "A" Company of the Bermuda Cadet Corps when Captain Henry Hallett was the Company Commander. (Paddy Coyle of the Gordon Highlanders, whose idea it was to start the Bermuda Cadets Pipe Band, was in the detachment of the Highland Brigade stationed in Bermuda at the time. In his honor, the band wore the Gordon tartan). Bagpipe celebrities or those who contributed mightily since then include Denis Stuart; Captain Arthur G. Card, Commandant of the Bermuda Cadet Corps; Lillian Hallett; Mary Card Gibbons and Joan Tite. On the disbanding of the Corps in the early 1960's, the Band continued as a body of civilian volunteers under the name of the Bermuda Cadets Pipe Band. Wearing the Regimental Gordon tartan, the Band's first public performance was in the Remembrance Day Parade in 1956 when they began a tradition of leading the war veterans on and off parade.
Both were disbanded in 1992 when the Bermuda Islands Pipe Band was established. The Bermuda Islands Pipe Band is a spectacular sight on ceremonial occasions, often included in Beating Retreat, musical displays and other events. Individual bagpipers go to hotels and weddings. The 17-member contingent still wear the Gordon Highlanders tartan kilt with a white jacket. Experiences include playing at local and international tattoos
active tradition of the BIPB began in 1963 with the weekly performance by the
Cadets Pipe Band of the "Skirling Ceremony" at Fort Hamilton. Yet another
long-established relationship began in 1965 with both predecessor Bands and now
the BIPB appearing with the Band and Corp of Drums of the Bermuda Regiment in
the Beating Retreat in Hamilton, St. George's and the Royal Naval
The BIPB has an equally strong tradition of representing and promoting Bermuda internationally having performed overseas on 18 occasions in the United States, Canada, Scotland and Germany. In 2003, the Band proudly promoted Bermuda at the Nova Scotia International Tattoo. The Band, bearing the Bermuda standard before it, has twice appeared in New York City leading other pipe bands. The Band's more recent international performance came in January, 2005, at the Musikschau der Nationen in Bremen, Germany, Norfolk VA, Birmingham UK and Hamburg, Germany.
See under "Bermuda Islands Pipe Band" in Bermuda Books.
Daylesford, Park Street, Hamilton. Telephone 295-5584. An active local group offering a menu of plays and productions, usually at its own small theatre. There is also an annual Christmas pantomime.
A 12--strong group of young jazz musicians. It had a very successful opening concert on June 16, 2001.
Private sector part-time orchestra and choir. Registered charity 323. The chorus generally consists of between 40 and 60 members while the orchestra has about 30.
Phone 296-5100. With 1000 students and approximately 25 faculty teaching strings to percussion, voice, brass, woodwind, guitar and piano. Incorporates the former Bermuda Conservatory of Music. Also mounts several public annual events.
Established in July 2008 and aims to introduce, and provide continuity for students who wish to play the steel pan. Students from nine different public and private schools meet after school on Wednesdays and Fridays to learn to play the iconic Caribbean instrument, which originated in Trinidad and Tobago in the 1930s. The steel pan has a long history of association with Bermuda, having arrived here within a decade of its invention. The pans unique sound was originally the result of carefully shaping and stressing sections of the base of standard 55-gallon oil drums, and though now methods of production have been refined, the design and tuning of each instrument are done by hand. For more information about the Steel Orchestra, contact the Bermuda School of Music 296-5100.
P. O. Box HM 661, telephone 293-4147 or 295-8621 or fax 293-8789 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Studio at 292-2192.
The following are especially noteworthy:
Three songs — 'I Need All The Sunshine', 'All My Dreams Are Gathered Safely In', and 'Child of the Ocean' - all by Marcus Dagan - reflect his connections with, and deep love of, Bermuda.
Virtually all other songs heard or played in Bermuda - like Yellow Bird - while nice, are not Bermuda songs at all. Beautiful Bermuda by the Merrymen of Barbados is actually Beautiful Barbados by the same group. Bermuda Farewell is actually Jamaica Farewell with Bermuda substituted for Jamaica. Bermuda Woman by the Merrymen of Barbados is actually Barbados Woman by the same group. Most of the calypsos played in Bermuda by local musicians are not Bermudian or written in Bermuda. Always contact the authors directly for more information on songs.
For all songs about Bermuda, if authors or agents both in Bermuda and abroad will reciprocate the free courtesy website link, a free courtesy active link will be established to their website or song or both.
Made up of current and retired members of the Bermuda Regiment Band. The five-member group got together over a shared love of music. These days their goal is to get people grooving at corporate, church or community events Island-wide. Comprises Tuba player Gerald Swan, Major Barrett Dill and Neilson Degraff on cornet, Henry Smith on trombone and James VanLowe on the clarinet. They had all retired from the Bermuda Regiment Band and didn’t want to stop playing, so would get together on Thursday nights and have a little rehearsal. Then word started to get out and they started performing at functions like birthdays and anniversaries. Their first performances were actually at Christmas time, when they would do caroling at some of their friends’ houses. They really enjoyed bringing Christmas cheer to people during the holidays. "After that we got together for a birthday performance at one of the Princess hotels and it just went from there." Major Dill, was a Director Of Music in the Bermuda Regiment Band, while the others were Sergeant, Color Sergeant and two were Sergeant Majors. They play everything, but consider themselves to be more of the New Orleans blues style. Most times when they go out and do a performance, Major Dill does most of the talking and he says they are the blues band flown in from the New Orleans via North Village — that’s where a few of them are from. We just try to give everything we do a Bermuda style. To contact the band, call 537-0224.
In March 2008 the Bermuda Government issued a set of stamps in honor of some of the most famous local calypso singers and troubadours (see graphic).
Calypso originated in Trinidad & Tobago in the 19th century, as rhythms brought there by African slaves. At the time, the rule was that slaves were not permitted to talk while working, but were allowed to sing. Their songs were a mixture of their tribal languages and Spanish, English and French that their colonizers insisted they learn. When colonial domination of their region ended, they continued their custom of singing, but added new elements to their traditional songs or mixtures of songs. They argued, discussed, lampooned, got political, became sexually explicit and injected a lot of macho rubbish into their songs as well (like "When women say no they mean yes"). In Europe, Nina and Frederick, from Holland and Denmark respectively (Frederick had studied at an agricultural college in Trinidad), introduced a sanitized version of calypso to their fans. In the USA, Canada and Bermuda, Harry Belafonte did so, followed by Norman Luboff (whose version of "Yellow Bird" became the standard by which all other versions are copied).
Like Nina and Frederick and Belafonte, Luboff accentuated the more exotic and less ribald or licentious side of calypso for mass consumption. His idea was to make it authentic again, as the choral music it once was. What these pioneers in American-composed, Americanized and Europeanized versions of calypso came up with had a mass appeal to the audiences of their day. Their music was gorgeous. It is the kind of music many visitors still hope for when they visit Bermuda and Caribbean destinations further south, instead of the modern rubbish - not calypso or steel pan music - they too often find today.
Bermudian musicians copied liberally from the mass appeal calypso music of Nina and Frederick, Belafonte and Luboff. Not known at all is other beautiful original music - also superb - of more Caribbean islands, like ballads unique to their lands sung in patois or English from Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, St. Vincent, Montserrat, Saba, Aruba, etc. Such music of before and during the 1950s and 1960s is no longer in vogue. Sadly, only reggae, from Jamaica - and now soca - seem to be popular among the youth of Bermuda. Bermuda has virtually no equivalent at all to Caribbean music, yet it does not lack in poets who could write good, unique local words, which good local musicians could put to music if they were given some incentives to write music truly from Bermuda in every way.
Frequently, Bermuda was visited by great calypsonians and steel band greats like Byron Lee & The Dragonaires from Jamaica (their 1970's and 1980's recordings of calypsos and the much more tuneful reggae then than now were superb),The Mighty Sparrow from Trinidad & Tobago, The Merrymen from Barbados. Steel bands were imported to Bermuda, stayed, became Bermudianized and are still here.
Steel pan music is more recent than calypso. It also began in Trinidad and Tobago in the late 1930s, long after slavery ended. It too was seen as reactionary, from young rebels of society. When the Bishop of San Fernando in south Trinidad recognized its worth and praised it as positive not negative, people noticed. Then the Esso Steel Band came along, among the pioneers. They moved to Bermuda in the 1950s but played worldwide as well. Carl Borde was their leader. Rolf Commissiong Sr was another prominent member. They thrilled audiences with their steel pan calypso music and selected classical pieces beautifully arranged for steel pan. It blended exquisitely the culture of the Caribbean, Africa and Europe. In the 1960s, a Trinidadian convent pioneered yet another form of calypso and steel pan music, with a choir that sang in a hauntingly melodic way a selection of Negro Spirituals and local spiritual melodies to a lilting steel pan accompaniment.
In many local churches, this is a long established tradition. Sundays are alive with the sound of religious music. The custom traces back to England. A lay member of the church acts in a volunteer post as choir master or choir mistress.
2017. December 14. Sue Riihiluoma had always loved Bermuda’s Gombeys and marching bands. The beat drew her in. So when she saw the crowd of drummers on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue she stopped, gob-smacked. “It was just outside the Apple Store,” she said. “A bunch of 80 women, drumming. The whole front of the glass building was shaking.” The group was Batala NYC, part of an all-women Afro-Brazilian band that plays samba-reggae rhythms all over the world. “It planted the seed,” Mrs Riihiluoma said. Five years later she’s started a female troupe in Bermuda, Coral Beats. The group of mainly untrained drummers made its debut on May 24, performing for runners and race spectators near LF Wade International Airport. “We only knew one song and we stood at Stone Crusher Corner and drummed,” Mrs Riihiluoma said. “The runners loved it. They didn’t know we only played the one piece, because they only heard it for 30 seconds or so. The spectators, well that was a different story.” It was an auspicious start for 20 people with little musical experience. Mrs Riihiluoma pulled together the group, ranging in age from 25 to 70, from all parts of the island: friends, friends of friends and people who just happened upon them as they practiced at Warwick Academy each week. The jump-start came after a trip with her husband, Jay, to Salvador de Bahia, Brazil for the 2016 carnival. She’d been told she’d be able to see Batala in action and buy drums and costumes for the band she had in mind here. “My children laughed before we left and said: ‘Mom, dad, you’re going to the biggest party in the world. What are you thinking?!’ I should have listened. I didn’t realize carnival starts at 10pm and ends at 5am, way past my bedtime.” Mrs Riihiluoma returned home empty-handed, thinking her dream “was never going to happen”. She wasn’t completely defeated however. She decided to take drum lessons while she figured out her next move. An introduction to musician Kim Deuss, stepdaughter of the late vet and ocean conservationist Neil Burnie, proved “serendipitous”. She’d studied drums for nearly a decade, performed and recorded with bands in New York City and Los Angeles and recently played at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas. “I love music,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what instrument, what genre, I love it all. I had a period where I was obsessed with samba and when Sue approached me I liked the concept — all female, the drums especially. It’s not an instrument you think of females as playing. I found it very empowering. I’ve done theory training and composition so I can interpret music and write. We had no sheet music and I hadn’t studied Brazilian music but I went on the internet and did research. The first song was my interpretation of some Brazilian music I’d heard.” The pair started practising and then had to work out the next hurdle, finding drums to accommodate the band they had in mind. “I had a group of crazy ladies willing to give it a go,” Mrs Riihiluoma said. “I brought my friends together and Kim brought a few friends. I knew it would take off and we did it without advertising. Just one person saying, ‘Can my sister come? Can my friend come?’ We had a core group of 12 who were committed to it and we’ve since grown to probably up to 25 committed, with no real [music] training.” She learnt of an American woman selling drums and got on a plane to Manhattan. “I kept coming across stumbling blocks and then, I stumbled on to them. My husband and I brought 16 drums back in the middle of a snowstorm in New York. The biggest is about 24 inches across. They pack like Russian dolls so we had four bags containing four drums each.” Ms Deuss was able to provide a few more and then a music teacher offered to help them learn “a few rhythms. We’ve been practising once per week since the beginning of March,” Ms Deuss said. “That says a lot for a group that had never played, to pick something up and start performing with not even a year’s experience. I think that’s truly incredible.” They performed their new repertoire at a fundraiser for the Neil Burnie Foundation last month. “We don’t typically dance, but we do step in time with the music and often there is lots of hand movement so it adds elements of entertainment and adds to the energy.” Added Mrs Riihiluoma: “What’s important is that we have fun. Nobody’s going to know the difference if we’re not perfect. But we’re having a ball and people enjoy it.”
Leading local artistes have included Dr. Gary Burgess - once an opera singer overseas and more recently a Bermuda Government official and conductor of the part-time Bermuda Philharmonic Orchestra; opera singer Marcelle Clamens who used to spend much of her time abroad but returned to Bermuda; concert pianist (and gardener) Peter Carpenter; Joyce Mary Helen DeShield; Suzanne Dunkerley; mezzo-soprano Jane Farge; and teacher of music at Whitney Institute Middle School (and gardener) Lloyd Matthew. Organizations involved include the Bermuda Philharmonic Society and Menuhin Foundation of Bermuda. (The late Lord Menuhin visited Bermuda to set up this organization himself). Also hear the Mozart Players Trust; Bermuda Middle Schools Orchestra; Mandy Wong and Dr. Karol Sue Reddington, pianist.
Individual Bermudians who have distinguished themselves in this genre include Sophia Cannonier, Barbara Frith, Patricia Gray, Suzette Harvey, Mrs Sal Hodgson (Somerset School of Dancing), Louise Jackson, Conchita Ming, Nikia Manders, Liz Pimental, the late Robert Simmons and Ray Tanver. Dance organizations and schools are shown separately above and below.
Dancers similar to those in Africa and certain parts of the Caribbean, from black families. They dance at certain times of the year and on special days. They appeared in the 2003 Edinburgh Tattoo. The word Gombey comes from the African Bantu language and means both rhythm and drum. Noteworthy and quoteworthy are the books "The Bermuda Gombey; Bermuda's Unique Dance Heritage" by Louise A. Jackson and "Bermuda: Traditions and Tastes" by Judith Watson. The Gombeys are unlike any other folkloric dance in the region. Bermuda Gombeys have always been completely covered so that you are unable to identify the persons involved. They are a serious and disciplined art form, not something that parents just simply send their children to. It's not ballet, the involvement of the entire family in the whole ritual is extremely important to the preservation of the culture. Most captains of troupes monitor very closely the performance of their students in relationship to their school work, for example, and if they are not doing well in school they may not get to dance. It's a totally integrated social enterprise, a way of life. Bermuda's only female Gombey troupe are Alisa Kani Girl Gombeys, a collective of fifteen women whose families are traditionally involved in the male-dominated performing art.
There are several. Bermudian James Richardson is a professional jazz pianist. Jazz groups include the Stephan Furbert Quartet.
See our Marriages in Bermuda.
P. O. Box HM 1179. Hamilton HM EX. John Campbell, Chairman. Bermuda Registered charity # 118. Founded after Lord Menuhin first visited. Qualified musicians are teachers.
With students from 10 to 13 years old from five middle schools, Clearwater, Dellwood, Spice Valley, Whitney Institute and Sandys Secondary Middle School. They are taught by Menuhin Foundation teachers.
West Hall 250, Bermuda College, South Road, Paget, telephone (441) 239-4091. Amalgamated in 2005 with the Bermuda Ballet Association (BBA). Founded in 1980 and a registered charity, Dedicated to the development of exceptional local dancers and choreographers.
Established in 1980, it existed until 2003. It was born out of the Bermuda Dance Theatre founded in 1977 by Louise Jackson, Barbara Frith and Conchita Ming. It offered development and performance opportunities for Bermuda's dance community by providing access to training opportunities with world-class teachers, performers and choreographers, professional level productions and the opportunity to earn international scholarships. NDTB gave performances where the work of local choreographers was featured along with choreographers from abroad. The company performed in the U.S. Quincentennial Celebrations in New York in July 1992 and at Carifesta in Trinidad in August 1992. In 1994 the company performed for Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh, on their visit to Bermuda. In January 1995 the NDTB was the opening performance at the Gala Showcase of the IABD Dance Conference in Philadelphia, USA, a second invitation to perform at this event. NDTB performed at The Bermuda Festival in 1979, 1993 and 1996. In September 2001 NDTB, at the invitation of the Department of Tourism opened the 46th Annual Society of Travel Writers Convention here in Bermuda.
Studio Location: Old Berkeley School extension. Berkeley Road, Pembroke, Bermuda. Mailing Address: Sal Hodgson (Director). PO Box 76, Mangrove Bay, Somerset, MA BX Bermuda. Studio Phone:441 292 0446. Office Phone: 441 234 2164. Office Fax: 441 234 3830.
2017. August 19. Bermuda’s newest dance company Vision held its first dance showcase last night at the Earl Cameron Theatre at City Hall. Vision, which opened earlier in the summer, comes under the umbrella of the Jackson School of Dance and is located on the same premises on Burnaby Street. The showcase — The Power of Dance — combined a variety of dance genres including ballet, jazz, contemporary, tap and hip hop. Vision’s first dance showcase is under the direction of choreographer and instructor Angelina Hayward-Simas, also known as Miss Angie, and featured some 42 dancers ranging in age from 2 years old to 25.
Last Updated: July
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