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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
Bermudian, Bermuda-born or domiciled. They include:
Quinceé Diana Dill
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; Cher-Ann 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; Quincee Diana 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; Wendy 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; Ernest “Tojo” Philpott; 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; Alex Scrymgeour (film-maker); Keith Seymour; Stan (Lord Necktie) Seymour (see photo and story below); James Seymour; Valerie Sherwood, Busta Simmons; Cleveland (Outta Sight) Simmons; Derek Simmons; Leroy 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"); Charles "Tao" Taylor; Terry-Lynn Thompson; Ernest Trimingham; Alan "Hot" Tuzo; Ross Tuzo; 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; Adi Wolf; 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, 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.
Cher-ann Brangman. 2019. April 20. When she picks up her saxophone to perform, something incredible happens: any nervousness disappears and she’s filled with a great sense of purpose. “Playing gospel music has given me a bold confidence that I’ve never experienced with secular music. When I pick up a horn I transcend. I just give in to God and allow the gifting to take over.” She will take the stage today for Uplift Bermuda, a two-day celebration that began yesterday. Organisers Pastor Russell Tomlinson and Cindy Trimm-Tomlinson will give words of encouragement during the free event; local gospel artists will perform. Easter is an exciting time of year for her family, the 41-year-old said. Not only does it offer a chance to take part in Bermuda traditions like flying kites and eating hot cross buns, it holds a lot of spiritual significance. To me, Easter represents something very revered and holy, when Jesus gave His life for us, so how could we not pause and give thanks?” she said. Ms Brangman encouraged people of all ages to join her at Uplift Bermuda. She hopes they leave with a renewed belief in their God-given mandate/assignment. “When I look back on my life I know that music has always been my calling,” she said. “I first realised that God had given me this talent at age 7. I began on the flute at my mother’s request, but convinced my teacher that I was more suited for the drums. A few years later at age 11, I found what would eventually become my true love. Under the instruction of Vernon ‘Ghandi’ Burgess I began on the saxophone. The following year it really hit me that this talent was truly a gift from God.” For her first solo performance, music teacher John Woolridge asked her to play Centre of My Joy. While practising she felt a focus she had never known — from then onwards she was “hooked”. She began playing her horn every Sunday at church. In her teens, she signed up with the Royal Bermuda Regiment Band and the National Youth Jazz Ensemble. She later played in her university’s marching band and Jazz band. “I’m a true ‘band geek’,” she said. Ms Brangman has also played at various church and private events around Bermuda. Throughout her ministry career, people have always called her ‘an anointed player’. She didn’t know what that meant as a child, but as an adult can see how God is using her through this platform for His glory. “I’ve heard numerous people say my music has ministered to their soul,” the musician said. “My family always pass on messages from people who stop them to ask when I’m playing next. I had this one lady who takes every opportunity to encourage me and let me know how I’ve impacted her through my ministry. I’ve even had people stop me when I’m out shopping at stores. They tell me they love to see my name on an event flyer because they know if they come to hear me they will be blessed. I didn’t think I had that kind of effect or impact on people, but just this past Sunday, a lady said her mind was soothed by my playing. I believe this is really why I’m here on this Earth. I want people to see God and know that He is there to comfort and provide peace.” As the music she plays is instrumental, it’s left to her audience to interpret the meaning behind the notes themselves. Ms Brangman describes it as “the only language that everyone can understand. It’s up to the listener to reflect on what God may be telling them through the music or to give them a free space to hear from Him,” she said. “With instrumentals, you don’t have to worry about getting the words wrong. You can free your mind and let God take you where you need to go in that moment. That’s why I say I never step on stage in my own strength. Whatever comes out of my horn is from Him. Sometimes I’m even surprised by what happens when I get on stage.”
Collie Buddz. One of Bermuda's most successful musicians. His real name is Colin Harper. He was born in New Orleans, but moved to Bermuda as a child after his father passed away. He was soon influenced by reggae music and when he was 19 attended Full Sail Academy in Orlando to pursue an audio engineering degree. Since then he has toured the world with his music supporting artists including Cyprus Hill, Rebelution and Matisyahu and has played at major music festivals, including Lollapalooza and Summer Jam. He continues to record new music, which he releases on his own record label Harper Digital and owns Bermudian radio station Vibe 103 on top of being a father.
2019. June 10. Collie Buddz has topped Billboard’s Reggae Album charts. The reggae star’s third album, Hybrid, was released on May 24 and has been at the top of the charts for a week. The self-produced ten-track album follows on from his 2017 song Good Life and includes a rap by Tech N9ne and collaborations with Russ, B Young and Ghanaian Grammy-nominated singer Stonebwoy.
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 101 in August 2018), 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.
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.
Quinceé Kaya Dill. Her dream has always involved an audience. The Bermudian actor is determined to forge a career in America’s entertainment industry. So far she has appeared in short films and web series. She also wrote, produced and starred in the short film Scissors vs Ponytail. Convinced she is at the beginning of a career, she does not have a Plan B. “I don’t allow myself to think that way,” the 21-year-old said. “If I have a back-up plan it means I’ve already accepted failure — and that’s not an option.” She started “writing skits and performing” as a child in Marietta, Georgia, but did not realize it was her life calling until after her parents, Patrika Dill and Quincey Santucci, moved the family here. “I was 15 when I realised acting was a career and that’s what I wanted to do,” she said. Her first stage appearance was in the Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s 2011 production of Animal Farm. “It was exciting when I found out they accepted me and gave me a role,” she said. “I think I was scared a bit, but I went on to perform with [local performance group] Troika, and doing as many production courses in high school as I could.” She got a GCSE in drama and was accepted into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Hollywood, California. “It was amazing,” she said. “I learnt so much and I met great people who helped me understand more.” Ms Dill also landed a spot with Los Angeles-based agency, Green and Green Talent Group. “[In the entertainment industry] they have different agencies for different levels depending on what part of your career you’re in. For me, I went through a process where I sent out pictures and résumés to agencies. They contact you if they’re interested. That’s how I ended up going to Green and Green. They help me with finding auditions and sending me on them. When you have an agent you have access to larger markets. They have access to larger companies that are looking for actors.” She appeared in the film Ho Molto Fame, which came second in the Italian-Thai short film competition in 2017. “It means ‘I’m very hungry’,” she laughed. “I did the whole thing in Italian and no, I don’t speak Italian. But you know what you’re saying so you just create the emotion behind it.” Scissors vs Ponytail screened at Canadian Film Fest in March, showcased in a category of movies that were 300 seconds or less. At the moment, Ms Dill is in Bermuda working at an after-school programme to earn some money so she can return to the US. She is also waiting to hear whether she will be given a bit more latitude in applying for jobs. “The visa process limits what you can actually work for,” said the actor, who does not have a Green Card and is not American. “It’s so difficult. I’m working on getting a visa that would allow me to do more within the industry. I’ve submitted a case with the help of a lawyer and am waiting to hear. I am looking at a range of things currently, commercials, television, short films ... web series is my latest target. I am interested in writing but it’s more of a hobby currently. I’m not the strongest writer but I have a lot of ideas. My goal is to work with other writers to help me format my ideas.” She has not ruled out a move to the United Kingdom or Canada, where finding work might be easier. “I won’t give up. It’s my passion, my love.” Her advice to any other Bermudians interested in becoming an actor: “Believe in yourself. Go for it and save your money because, while you’re waiting for your break, life is not cheap.” Having a healthy self-esteem also helps. “You have to build immunity,” Ms Dill said. “I started at the end of primary school. Because I was moving around a lot, I had to suck it up and be ready to meet new people all the time, and then deal with bullying. You learn to lift yourself higher and walk away. My mom was pretty helpful in letting me know that was what to do: just walk away. But if you don’t get a role it’s not necessarily because you aren’t a good actor. It could be that you don’t have the look they’re looking for. You can be a fantastic actor, just not for what you’ve come in for. What I’ve learnt from some of my teachers is that when you finish an audition, forget about it. Then it’s not weighing down on you. Go in, have a good time and then it’s done.”
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.
Charles "Jiggs" Douglas. Died November 5, 2018 at age 89. Dale Butler, a former Progressive Labour Party MP and music historian, said Mr Douglas’s death was “a great loss to Bermuda’s music heritage”. He added: “He was an absolutely outstanding conga player who established a reputation all over the island.” Atlantic Publishing, owned by Mr Butler, gave an award to Mr Douglas last year to mark his contribution to the island music scene. Mr Butler said “Jiggs” made a trio of conga-drumming greats with musicians Freeman “King” Trott and Gene Steede. He added: “It’s a sad occasion. He was a very quiet, humble man who often freelanced, showing up to perform at venues like Hubie’s.” The Angle Street bar, a popular spot for jazz, closed in 2010. Mr Butler said he was lucky to have seen the performer in action at the legendary Queen Street bar the Jungle Room, where top local talent was showcased. He added: “I saw him in action there with the Fiery Limbo Dancers group. I also saw great performances at the Southampton Princess. He was part of that hotel circuit.” Mr Butler’s book, Music on the Rock, said Mr Douglas started performing at age 19. He played with notable acts such as Graham Bean and the Tropicanos, as well as Hubert Smith. Lance Furbert, a drummer during the heyday of Bermuda’s live music scene, said Mr Douglas was a mentor to younger musicians at the Jungle Room. Mr Furbert added Mr Douglas was “an incredible drummer”. He said: “I worked with him with Bryan Butterfield’s Fiery Limbo Dancers. He used to do a great solo with all kinds of action as he played, talking to the audience — he could crack people up.” Mr Furbert added Mr Douglas’s music was “like thunder — it was incredible how much rhythm he had. It was a deep booming sound that took over everything. As a person, he could be really comical. What I liked about him was that he was always helpful. To those of us who were younger than him, he was really a teacher. In the early days, the Jungle Room drummers were teachers to the younger guys coming up.” Mr Douglas’s death came about a week after Ernest “Tojo” Philpott, a guitarist and singer, died aged 81.
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].
Geoff Faiella. Actor. He appeared in fall 2019 Bermuda at the BMDS Daylesford Theatre in Killing Carlisle by local journalist' Owain Johnston. Billed as “a dark comedy with light weaponry”, Killing Carlisle is about “a trained hit man and a jilted lover who breaks into the luxurious Bermuda home of Carlisle Mooney on the same night with murder on their minds — completely independent of one another”. His father’s mother, Isabelle ‘Puss’ Faiella, encouraged him to get out there. She used to perform in clubs in Bermuda in the 1950s and 1960s. "In school at Saltus, I liked performing on stage and when I went to high school in the States, I started getting even more involved in drama and performing arts. So it’s really been a lifelong hobby.” On returning to the island in 2010, Mr Faiella rejoined the local theatre scene, getting involved in shows with both BMDS and the Gilbert & Sullivan Society.
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.
2018. November 6. Bermudian actor Julia Frith has been robbing banks across the UK — and loving it. Ms Frith, 23 in 2018, is on a British and Irish tour of the hit show The Comedy About A Bank Robbery. She said: “The amount of times I’ve heard people remark that they haven’t laughed like that in years — if ever — has really shown me how important it is to create shows that give people a chance to express their pure unfettered delight. I can’t get over the fact that it’s my job to make people cry with laughter.” Ms Frith added: “Another highlight is that being on tour means I’m getting paid to travel all over the UK, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. I get to explore the towns, castles, forests, and perform in some of the most beautiful theatres, not to mention getting to know the people along the way.” Ms Frith said the play was about a bank robbery complicated by love triangles, mistaken identities and hidden agendas. She said: “I play Caprice Freeboys, con artist extraordinaire and leading lady of the show. She is constantly trying to fix the messes her fellow robbers are creating, using her wit, charisma, aerial singing charm and surprising charades skills.” The show, already a hit in London’s West End, was created by the Mischief Theatre Company. Ms Frith said she had not seen the show before she won her part, but was aware of the company’s previous productions, including the international success The Play That Goes Wrong. She said: “I dreamt of one day working in their shows. It was one of those ‘Gosh, maybe one day after I graduate I’ll be working with Mischief’ kind of dreams. All of their productions were incredibly physical, fast-paced, smart, hilarious. I took my brother to see The Play That Goes Wrong, and my partner and I saw Peter Pan Goes Wrong. They were the funniest shows I’d ever seen. We cried with laughter, along with every other audience member watching with us.” Ms Frith said she met Sooki McShane, the play’s casting director, while she studied at London’s Rose Bruford College and contacted the theatre company on her advice. She auditioned three weeks later. Ms Frith said: “From there it was a typical audition process. I went through three rounds of acting in front of the directors, writers, producers, founding company members and potential cast. It was intense, and before I knew it I had gotten my first job, two months before graduation, with one of the best comedy shows in London.” Ms Frith added that the production was demanding, with countless props and quick fire jokes. She said: “I am onstage for a lot of the show, and when I’m not, I’m in a quick change, grabbing props, or climbing ladders for the next bit. The energy output is huge. Being able to do that and still have breath to shout, sing, and connect with the emotion of the story is the ultimate goal. I’m learning a lot about consistency. I’ve gone from doing only four shows in a run, to doing eight shows in five days, every week for a whole year. So far we’ve done over 80 shows and to keep up the same amount of energy and fresh zest for every show is something I’m still learning how to do.” Ms Frith is far from the first in her family to take to the stage. Her relatives include international musician Heather Nova and celebrated puppeteer Michael Frith. She said anyone interested in the performing arts, or any profession, had to commit to their passion and take action. Ms Frith said: “People will give you all the reasons in the world why you shouldn’t live the life of your dreams. I was terrified of writing to Mischief, I was scared of auditioning, and even now I’m afraid as I write to agents inviting them to my show, but every time I was scared and made the choice to do something anyway, I’ve seen amazing results in my life. I’ve become a fire spinner, an aerialist, Bermuda’s first professional mermaid and just graduated from the best drama school. I now have an amazing job and am truly living the life of my dreams every day.”
Michael Frith. Celebrated puppeteer.
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.
2019. January 12. A show tonight to highlight the talent of this Bermudian actress who has performed in London’s West End has been postponed until March. Candace Furbert was due to have performed at the Ruth Seaton James Centre at CedarBridge Academy in Memoirs of the Entertainer tonight and tomorrow but was forced to call off because of illness. Ms Furbert said that the shows would take place on March 29 and 30 instead. She added that tickets already bought will be honoured for the later dates. For more information or to change ticket dates, e-mail email@example.com. Tickets for the shows are available at bdatix.bm
"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.
Aliana King. 2019. March 30. This Bermudian model has appeared as the cover girl in the Mexican edition of the world’s biggest fashion magazine. Aliana King features on the front of Elle’s April edition for the Latin American country — but she almost missed the job because of other work commitments. Ms King, 19, was in Sweden on a fashion shoot when she got the call about the job for Elle, scheduled to be shot in New York. She said: “I was doing a job in Sweden right before the photo shoot so I wasn’t even sure if I was going to be able to be back for it. As soon as I left my job in Sweden I got to the airport, flew all night, got to New York in the morning and went straight to my job from there. It took a lot to make it happen.” Ms King, who lives in New York, said that her appearance in a prestige magazine such as Elle was a great career booster, but it is the latest in an impressive list of achievements. She added she had already featured in fashion giants Vogue and Marie Claire, and now had the last of the big four magazines, Harper’s Bazaar, in her sights. But Ms King said she might never have made it in an industry dominated by taller women because she is only 5ft 4in. She explained: “Although I am proportionate to a taller model there are many different things in the job that I can’t do as well because of my height. I’m not saying that I have any less talent — it has to do with the sizing of the clothes and not being able to look the same in photos when compared to the other models.” But Ms King said her star role in Elle Mexico showed she could compete in the tough world of international modelling. She added: “I always knew that if I was going to do this then I had to put everything I had into it and push as hard as I could. It’s definitely happening very fast, but I didn’t expect anything less.” Ms King said that she hoped to bring a modelling agency to Bermuda. She wants to scout Bermuda talent to thank the island for its support. Ms King added: “The amount of people that congratulate me and recognize me in my own country is amazing and I really feel the love and support. It doesn’t matter how much I do or how far I go, I always get the most support from my own country. That feels absolutely amazing.”
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.
Seán O’Connell. 2018. October 30. Were it not for a long-lost relative, his folk songs might never have been heard. His guitar was in a closet gathering dust, the melodies and lyrics he’d carefully composed forgotten. Then he met his Irish cousin Morgan. With his prodding, he picked up the instrument, having left it alone for 25 years, and “started from scratch”. Roughly a year and a half ago he headed into Just Platinum Recording Studios and recorded his first CD, Father of One. “People were wondering, ‘You’re so old, why are you doing this? Why not go to a rest home and put your feet up?’” the 76-year-old laughed. “I like to stay active, to keep my mind sharp.” Aware that fellow Bermuda Folk Club musician Valerie Sherwood had recorded two CDs, Dr O’Connell followed her lead: “I thought, ‘I’ve composed songs, I could do it too’.” And so began a 20-month process — of selecting eight covers and eight original songs, and recording them. “John Woolridge did a wonderful job of helping me put together a professional package of songs,” he said. “He was meticulous. His passion for excellence was infectious. It was wonderful to work with him and bring out the beauty of those pieces.” Ironically, he didn’t find his first music lessons that appealing. Despite that, he stuck with the piano classes he’d signed up for at 13, for four years. The drudgery came to an end soon after he entered St Andrew-on-Hudson seminary, in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1959. “I was raised to be very religious by Roman Catholic parents,” Dr O’Connell said. “I saw it as the highest ideal and thought it would be the best thing to do with my life and so I entered a Jesuit order. In the seminary, I was only able to practise [piano] one hour a week, which prevented any real progress.” In 1966 “an instructional TV series” got him interested in the guitar. He borrowed one from a friend, and was soon hooked. “I enjoyed it for several reasons,” he said. “It was less demanding than the piano — all you need to know are a few chords and you can play an awful lot of songs. With the piano, you had to be so much more advanced before you could even dream of performing.” On a break from the seminary, he travelled to California and met Laura Weber, the woman he had followed on TV. “She asked if I would appear on her programme. At this stage I had composed some songs and she had me play a few. It was great for her, she was showing her audience that they could learn too — look at what my pupil has done.” He quit the seminary in 1968, two years into his doctorate in mathematics at City University of New York. “I left because I became more mature,” Dr O’Connell said. “I was exposed to things I never realised in [my Roman Catholic] high school where everything was limited and nothing social existed. The seminary was up in the woods, in a cloistered environment, it was a cocooned experience. While studying for my PhD, I met Jews, agnostics and atheists; a hodgepodge of different people that I’d never been exposed to before. There was a gradual unfolding of realization to awareness.” Work called after graduation. Dr O’Connell spent time in Sweden and England before he decided he was ready for a change. “In 1974, I got a job at the Bermuda College,” he said. “I didn’t know much about Bermuda at the time, but once I got here I loved it.” In 1976, he made Bermuda history as the first person to swim the entire way around the island, completing the feat in 43 hours and 27 minutes. He also fell into the rhythm of the Folk Club, where he took his wife Celia on their first date. The couple met at Horseshoe Bay, on April Fool’s Day 1979, and married in 1986. Dr O’Connell left Bermuda College after 29 years as professor of mathematics, in 2003. “I continued to play, but over the years I let it die and my guitar gathered dust in the closet,” he said. “My long-lost cousins in Ireland discovered me on the internet that mentioned my round-the-island swim. I visited all seven of them over Christmas in 2013 and one of them, Morgan, comes from a very musical family. He was shocked and appalled that I had let my guitar playing die and demanded that I take it up again.” Before he knew it, he was working on a CD. “I chose 16 songs, those of my own composition that I particularly liked and some traditional songs such as Wild Mountain Thyme, Black Velvet Band, Morning Has Broken, House of the Rising Sun and Annie’s Song. I wrote many during my last year in the seminary — when I was starting to experience events but still had a lot of time to sit and reflect. The melody usually came first and then I found a topic to fit the feeling of the music.” He’s already performed a few songs at the folk club. “I always felt a sense that [making an album] was what I wanted to do but never had the opportunity,” he said. “I had a model now to do it, with Val Sherwood who had actually done it. I thought, ‘If she can do it I can too’. I was encouraged that someone right here in Bermuda did it and did it well. It opened it up as a practical opportunity, not just a theoretical one. We didn’t seem to have that years ago. Forty years ago I didn’t know if people did this here in Bermuda.” His next move depends on how Father of One is received. At the moment he’s happy busking in Washington Lane every Tuesday, between noon and 1.30pm. “It’s kind of fun to just sing for the joy of it,” he said.
Joe Pimentel. One of the three original members of the Travellers of Bermuda.
Ernest “Tojo” Philpott. A guitarist and singer, died November 2018 aged 81.
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.”
Howard "Howie" Rego. Died May 2019. One of Bermuda’s star musicians who performed in what was dubbed “Bermuda’s answer to the Beatles". A gifted drummer, he was 69. Rego’s music career took him from being a teen heart-throb to working with Sly and the Family Stone and Peter Frampton at the height of their 1970s fame. As drummer for The Savages, he helped build an enthusiastic following among island rock fans and thousands of “college kids” from East Coast universities and he co-wrote with bassist and singer Bobby Zuill what some musicologists consider a classic example of “garage rock” and proto-punk, >The World Ain’t Round, It’s Square. Rego died last Saturday and a private funeral was held yesterday. The graduate of the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston worked abroad as a session musician for more than 20 years. He returned to his homeland and formed several bands on the island and turned his hand to teaching music. The long-haired, svelte rocker, who had a flamboyant stage presence, provided a foundation for all his bands, with a throbbing pulse and great crashes of cymbals. After the break-up of The Savages at the end of 1966, Rego eventually made his way to Boston, Massachusetts, and New York City, where he was introduced to many famous musicians and served a stint with albino rock guitarist Edgar Winter. Bermudian drummer Andy Newmark, who was making his name on both sides of the Atlantic at the same time, got Mr Rego a slot on Broadway for The Rocky Horror Picture Show, behind Meatloaf. Tours followed with jazz and rhythm and blues icon Michael Brecker, a neighbour and friend, and Englishman Frampton, who had shot to stardom in the wake of the success of his seminal album, Frampton Comes Alive. The Frampton band performed before arena audiences as big as Bermuda’s population until the disco revolution took the air out of his sales. Rego told the Mid-Ocean News years ago: “Every time my career needed a boost, Andy would pop up out of nowhere and set me with up something interesting.” It was a call from Newmark that got Mr Rego a one-year gig with the mercurial funk genius Sylvester Stewart, aka Sly Stone. Mr Rego said their first meeting was nerve-racking. He added: “The audition consisted of Sly asking me to sit down behind the drums and play to some of his recorded music. He liked what he heard, and said, ‘prepare yourself, we are going on tour in the next couple of days’.” But Mr Rego had to turn down an offer from Swiss pianist Joe Zawinul of the jazz fusion supergroup The Weather Report to take the job. He said: “I often wonder where I would be today if that call had come in first.” The Savages formed in 1962, with the amalgamation of The Fugitives, guitarists Paul Muggleton and Jimmy O’Connor, and The Gents, Rego and bassist and singer Zuill. Mr Rego was just 12 years old, three years younger than the others. The Mount Saint Agnes Academy pupil had been encouraged from age 8, by his father, a grocer and amateur musician. With his friend, Roddy Marshall, credited as an influence on the band, Mr Rego saw the Vanilla Fudge, with its wild man drummer Carmine Appice, live in Newport, Rhode Island. Mr Rego said: “Our music immediately departed to a funkier, R&B sound.” With businessman and producer Eddie DeMello at the helm, The Savages recorded the local hits No, No. No, No, No and She’s Gone over the space of two years. Fans lined the streets to see standing-room-only performances at what is now the Hog Penny on Burnaby Street in Hamilton, Elbow Beach and other venues around Bermuda. The band met or played with The Young Rascals, Tiny Tim, The Doors, and at The Scene Club in New York with Jimi Hendrix. They also allowed Desi Arnaz Jr, an actor and musician, to sit in at Mr Rego’s drum kit at the Hog Penny, watched by his superstar mother, actor Lucille Ball. By this time they were also known in the Caribbean, where they performed for large crowds in Barbados and Antigua, where they shared a stage with The Wailers, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston. Musician Tony Brannon said last night that Barbadian musician friends still fondly recall The Savages’ tour. The band split up at the end of 1966, but Live and Wild, recorded in February that year at The Hub, a club in the Hamilton Princess in front of an adoring and raucous crowd has survived the decades. Collectors now pay hundreds of dollars for the grungy record.
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.
Jordan Claire Robbins. 2019. April 18. This Bermudian actor booked a spot in a Netflix series a week after she submitted a video audition. The tape landed her a major role in the first season of Netflix series The Umbrella Academy, which premiered in February. Ms Robbins landed the role as Grace after a friend suggested she audition for it. She explained: “She thought I would be a great fit and, since I loved the role and project, I asked my agent if casting were open to me auditioning for it.” She submitted a tape because she was in Vancouver on Canada’s west coast at the time and casting was in Toronto on the opposite side of the country. Ms Robbins, 28, said: “I heard back within a few days that I was on their shortlist and then, about a week later, I found out I’d got it.” Grace is an Artificial Intelligence robot built to be the perfect mother for seven young children born with superpowers. Ms Robbins said: “I absolutely loved every moment of playing Grace. It was a challenge in the best way, as I wanted to constantly give the audience that little something that made them wonder what was going on under the surface for her.” She added: “This was my first experience of being able to develop a character from the very beginning of the show, which meant I was able to build the world of these characters with the other actors and our show-runner, Steve Blackman.” Grace was created in the image of a “perfect 1950s housewife” by Sir Reginald Hargreeves who “adopted” the children to turn them into a team of superheroes. Ms Robbins said: “It was important that I moved and spoke in a way that accurately represented women from that time period as well as being non-human.” She said she took ballet classes, danced around her apartment with books on her head, took voice coaching, watched series and movies which portrayed that era and researched artificial intelligence in preparation for the role. She added: “It was such an amazing experience getting to learn and grow through playing such a fun and challenging character and I completely fell in love with each of the charming, troubled, quirky characters.” Ms Robbins added that the show, based on a comic book by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, had pleased audiences and won good reviews. She said: “This is really the best thing you can hope for as an actor, to see the story you helped tell affect and inspire your audience. I have absolutely loved hearing from fans all over the world and social media has created a great opportunity to be able to connect with audiences.” Ms Robbins added that aspiring Bermudian actors should get as much experience as possible. She said: “Acting classes are an important way to practise and learn, but 2019 is an exciting time because there is also so much available to us without even leaving our home. Reading books, taking online master-classes by professionals in the industry, and watching YouTube interviews such as Inside the Actors Studio are all great ways to expand your knowledge.” Ms Robbins acted in school plays while at Saltus Grammar School and went on to do a degree in drama in Toronto. She also took film and TV classes for a year before she signed up with an agent. Ms Robbins added: “I think it’s very important that you have taken the time to practise and learn before you get an agent because it’s a very competitive industry and experience gives you that extra confidence to carry you through the more difficult times. There's no such thing as quick success — it is a very rewarding career, but it requires a lot of hard work, patience, determination and grit. There is no clear path, everyone’s journey in this industry is different, so you have to love it so much that you can hear ‘no’ over and over and never lose sight of why you’re doing it.” Ms Robbins will guest star on Netflix’s iZombie next month. She also produced and co-starred in a short film she wrote called Driver Is Arriving Now, a dark comedy about a woman forced to relive a past relationship, which will screen at festivals this year.
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.
Alex Scrymgeour. Eddie’s Bar & Grille in Venice Beach, California might be 3,000 miles from Bermuda, but there’s a decided Bermuda flavor running through the place. A Bermuda flag hangs in the corner of the watering hole, and at least one of the patrons drinks Dark ‘n Stormys, exclusively. The bar is the fictional setting for Bermudian filmmaker Alex Scrymgeour’s new sitcom Eddie’s, about a bar owner Eddie who fends off real estate developers while keeping his customers happy. “The show contains several Bermuda Easter eggs,” Mr Scrymgeour said. “As a Bermudian, it was important for me to have some nods to my island home such as the Bermuda flag as part of the bar’s decor.” He received permission from Goslings to use the iconic Bermuda cocktail. Bermuda is never directly mentioned in the pilot, but Mr Scrymgeour said it might be if the show is developed further. He’s currently looking for a broadcaster to pick up the show and has his eye on Amazon Prime. “They have a great distribution model,” he said. Mr Scrymgeour wrote the part of Eddie specifically for his friend, actor Eddie McGee, one of the first winners of the reality show Big Brother in 2000. The two acted in the Spanish film Renko in 2013. “In 2014, I visited him at a beach bar in Santa Monica, California called Big Dean’s,” Mr Scrymgeour said. “He was working the door there as a bouncer, and was the first point of contact for anyone coming in, and for dealing with any unruly customers. His general disposition and how he handled clientele was very friendly and the customers reacted very positively. Everyone knew who he was and everyone had a story and a smile to share with Eddie. I said to him, hey Eddie, what if Big Dean’s was yours in a situation comedy?” Mr McGee liked the idea. Mr Scrymgeour went as far as fleshing out the characters in his imagined television show, but got distracted by other projects. Then last October his wife Julie, gently reminded him of Eddie’s. “She said it was one of her favourite projects of mine,” he said. “I talked to Eddie about it. He is a great actor, and I started developing the story." For the project, Mr Scrymgeour enlisted Tony Prado, of ABC’s show Greek, as producer. He connected Mr Scrymgeour with director Michael Lange, also from Greek. “Michael really loved the story, script and characters and signed on,” Mr Scrymgeour said. “Michael has over 30 years television directing experience and was the perfect person to direct Eddie’s. The level of professionalism and experience he brought to Eddie’s can’t be understated. Working with him was an honour. Afterward, he said: this is a funny show. Your heart is in the right place with this show. ” Mr Scrymgeour was also thrilled to have George Wendt, who played Norm in the old hit show Cheers, in the cast as a sea captain. He grew up watching Cheers. “I was there in Boston the final night of the show,” he said. “I was a big fan. I would say that Eddie’s is a modern version of Cheers. It has a nice undertone. The tag line is: Every hour is happy hour and everyone is welcome.” Mr Scrymgeour’s aim was to produce something with a positive message. “It’s a wholesome family funny show,” he said. “There’s no foul language. I was so sick of seeing these shows on TV celebrating mean people doing mean things.” Mr Scrymgeour grew up in Bermuda and attended Saltus Grammar School before going on to boarding school in the United States. I am proud to be Bermudian as Bermudians are respectful, well mannered, cultured, helpful and care about one another,” he said. “Wherever I go around the world I am always cognizant of the fact that I represent my island home and do my best to impart the spirit of Bermuda. A nice smile and a polite ‘good afternoon’ goes a long way.” Even as a kid he knew he wanted to work in television. He got his start in 1995, working for Fresh Creations in Bermuda as an intern and production assistant for Peter Backeberg and Elmore Warren. “Working on numerous professional projects with various budget sizes was a great learning experience,” he said. “The experience gained with Fresh Creations was invaluable as I got to work as an intern or production assistant on many different projects such as the music video for Hootie & the Blowfish’s Billboard Top 40 hit Tucker’s Town along with other music and corporate videos, cooking and entertainment shows, and television commercials.” He has worked steadily in entertainment since 1995 both in front of and behind the camera. In 2002, he produced and starred in the short film Whoa: The Influence of Art. “Whoa was written and directed by my longtime friend and Emmy Award-winning director and editor Thurston Smith and was winner of Best Visual & Special FX at the 2006 Houston International Film Festival, an Intermedia-Globe Award at the 2005 World Media Festival in Germany, Best Short Film Award at the 2004 New York Festivals, Official Selection Screening at the 2004 Bermuda International Film Festival. Last year, he started filming a series, called Pizza Perfect combining a passion for travel and pizza. Pizza Perfect obtained worldwide distribution through Espresso Media in October 2017 and is looking to attach a broadcaster to air the show,” he said. “We are in pre-production now to shoot episode two here in Los Angeles in the next few weeks. With all the fresh local ingredients in California there is some tasty pizza in town.” Right now he is living in Santa Monica, while he finishes up work on Eddie’s. “Don’t ask me where I’ll be in six months though,” he said. He is also developing a television show in Barcelona, Spain called Barcelona Caballero’s, with Spanish actor César Pereira. Mr Scrymgeour said he would love to one day shoot a television show or film in Bermuda. “An hour-long crime drama would work in Bermuda,” he said. For a trailer of Eddie’s see: www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlV456kTGVI&;feature=youtu.be.
2019. August 6. This Bermudian film-maker has won top honours at an international film festival in the US for a sitcom pilot with a touch of Bermuda. Alex Scrymgeour, producer, creator and writer of Eddie’s, said he was “beyond thrilled” to take home the best pilot prize at the Long Island International Film Expo. He said: “People who have seen the show enjoy our feel-good story and characters and say that it’s a welcome break from all the negativity on television. I am working to get the show picked up so Eddie’s cast and crew can get back to work so we can continue to entertain and make people laugh and smile.” Eddie’s stars Eddie McGee, a veteran of shows including NCIS: Los Angeles and Chicago Med, as the owner of a beach bar in Venice, California. But Scrymgeour, a former reporter with the Mid-Ocean News, made sure the show had a Bermudian flavour, with a Bermuda flag displayed in the bar and a regular — George Wendt, who played Norm Peterson in the long-running hit show Cheers, also set in a bar — drinking Dark ‘n’ Stormys. He added that he wanted to create a positive, wholesome show with a diverse cast led by McGee, an amputee who lost his left leg to cancer. Scrymgeour said: “Eddie’s is a fun, happy show with a strong diverse cast and Mr McGee as star and producer is giving voice to 25 per cent of the population who have no strong presence on TV or in film as, for all the talk of diversity in Hollywood, there is no discussion regarding diversity and disabled actors. He added: “On June 19, CBS signed a pledge to audition more disabled actors to give opportunities to disabled actors and producers who have no voice or who only continue to fill stereotypical negative stigma roles that aren’t reflective of the one in four US adults with a disability.” Scrymgeour said the show had not yet been picked up for distribution by a network, but it had already gained fans internationally through film festivals. He added: “Eddie’s is screening in Spain on August 11 at the Madrid International Film Festival. It has been nominated for three awards at that festival — Best Actor for Eddie McGee, Best Director for Michael Lange and Best Editing for a short film/pilot. We have won three awards for best pilot at various festivals across the United States — Best Pilot at the California Film Awards 2019; a Gold Remi Award for Best Pilot at the 52nd annual WorldFest Houston; and now Best Pilot at The Long Island International Film Expo. We are also waiting to hear about the New Orleans International Film Festival and should know in the next ten days or so.” Scrymgeour is also working with McGee on another project, a short film called Kill Switch. He added: “We are raising funds now to shoot in the fall/winter. I’m also writing a new dramatic action thriller one- hour scripted television show. I’m always creating and working on something.”
Valerie Sherwood. Singer and songwriter. In November 2016 she released two videos to correspond with her “Be Fabulous” album, including visuals for tracks ‘The Railway Song’ and ‘The Aquarium Song.’ To date, Ms. Sherwood’s works include two musical albums, along with three visual products and a selection of poetry, most of it “whimsical for kids, but also some serious poems for adults.” When asked about her history with music and art, Ms. Sherwood told Bernews, “My sister Wendy took me to the Bermuda Folk Club, where I was exposed to a range of international folk songs including English, Irish, Scottish, Canadian and American. In the 70s, I listened to Joan Baez and Judy Collins; I hugely admire our own Heather Nova. I had guitar lessons and have written over 60 songs, performed at most local pubs, as well as Chewstick, facilitating a songwriting workshop for them last year on Paget Island. I probably do one of my songs to every two cover songs, with some adaptations of cover songs for humour. I write about what matters to me; love songs, social commentary, and environmental issues. I recorded first in the United Kingdom. My first CD of original songs, “Never Tell Them Why,” came out in 2004, produced by Bermudian Michael Spencer-Arscott. John Woolridge was producer and arranger of my most recent album, “Be Fabulous,” in 2013.I was honored to be one of nine local artists in the Bermuda Entertainer’s Showcase put on by Gina Spence Productions in partnership with Communications Plus in May of this year.” The Railway Song. When asked what drives her to celebrate Bermuda in particular, Ms. Sherwood said, “Growing up in a small family-run hotel meant helping visitors enjoy my island home. I was inspired by the beauty and particularly the bright colors which lent to my most popular song, “Colours of Bermuda,” on my Be Fabulous CD. I was involved in developing the Railway Trail in the 1980s, and that put me in a perfect place to write about it authentically twenty years later. A recent focus has been on the marine side with the Aquarium Song, promoting the island to our overseas visitors and locals. Finally, we have such amazing characters, from Johnny Barnes to Neil Burnie – I call them local legends. I am also passionate about conservation, having worked for the Bermuda National Trust, and appreciate our culture. My next performance will be at the Bermuda Folk Club on Saturday, November 19, followed by Thursday, December 1 at the Neil Burnie Foundation Night at Mariner’s Club, and Friday, December 2 at the Bermuda National Trust St. George’s Walkabout, where I have sung at the Perfumery for the last seven or eight years.” The Aquarium Song. Also from her experiences after visiting the Aquarium.
Leroy Simmons. 2019. April 8. Gospel artist, broadcaster and staunch advocate for local musicians, has died at 58. David Burt, the Premier, commended him as “an inspired, consummate star musician”. Mr Burt added: “He will be remembered also as a champion of rights of Bermudian entertainers, as the president of the Bermuda Entertainers Union.” Mr Simmons was also known across the island for his Sunday inspirational radio show Get Your Praise On, which aired on HOTT 107.5 since inception. Mr Burt extended condolences on behalf of the Bermuda Government and people of Bermuda to Mr Simmons’s wife Yvonne and his entire family. Mr Burt said: “His musical touch and heart for music education will always be remembered.” Glenn Blakeney of Inter Island Communications told The Royal Gazette: “Today marks a very sad day for many in the community on the passing of Leroy Simmons. Leroy has left an indelible mark on his legacy given the incredible contributions he selflessly made as a proficient music teacher, concert promoter, consummate broadcaster and more recently as president of the Bermuda Entertainment Union, where he became a fierce advocate for performing artists and local entertainers. Moreover, Leroy was an invaluable member of the Inter-Island Communications, Ltd family, and was the longest serving employee of the company until his passing.” The BEU also issued a statement: “It is with heavy hearts that the executive of the Bermuda Entertainment Union acknowledge the passing this morning, Tuesday April 9, 2019 of our president, Bro Leroy Simmons. We take this opportunity to express our condolences to his beloved and most supportive wife, Yvonne, his mother, brother and the rest of his family. Bro Leroy had unfinished business, but with the help of the Bermuda public we hope to bring his vision to fruition. Our Tribute of Song and Word will take place on Sunday April 14th 2019 as planned in Bro Leroy’s honour.” The Progressive Labour Party said: “He is remembered for his heroism as he fought for the rights of Bermudian entertainers as president of the Bermuda Entertainment Union. In addition to his activism, Brother Leroy travelled all over the world touching lives as a minister of music, recording artist and music educator including Florida, Georgia and New Jersey. For many years he was an active member of the Stellar Awards Gospel Music Academy, Bermuda Education Council, St George’s Cricket Club, the Bermuda Government Labour Advisory Council and the Bermuda Trade Union Congress where he invested countless hours and was known for his passion and commitment. The public will fondly recall his Sunday inspirational radio show Get Your Praise On which aired on Hott 107.5 since inception. Brother Simmons has left an indelible imprint on the hearts of so many. Our community remembers him as a passionate musician and one who insisted on inspiring others to find their purpose in life and to meet everyday challenges through biblical principles and personal testimonies. The PLP I extends heartfelt condolences to his wife Yvonne Simmons and his entire family on the loss of their husband, father, and friend.”
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. Died on December 3, 2001 at the age of 83 after a massive heart attack. He 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.
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.
2018. July 20. A film shot in Bermuda has won top awards at an international film festival. Mother of all Secrets claimed two prizes at the California Women’s Film Festival. Director Lucinda Spurling has been amazed by the achievement of winning. She added: “I just feel gratitude that we were able to get some recognition for all the people that worked really hard on the movie.” The picture claimed the Best Feature and the Best Director honours at the awards ceremony in Los Angeles. It was also nominated in three additional categories — Best Actress, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actress. The movie, shot last year, features several Bermuda attractions and resorts. The cast included Emmy award-winner Kate Mansi, Top Gun star Kelly McGillis, Real Housewives of New York star Luann D’Agostino, as well as Bermudian performers, including The Royal Gazette’s Owain Johnston-Barnes, who plays a police officer. The thriller follows a young couple on vacation in Bermuda before the birth of their first child. The trip takes a sinister turn when the father-to-be disappears. Ms Spurling said that the Bermuda Arts Council had helped to fund the film’s entry in the festival, which was held last weekend. Ms Spurling said she was unable to attend the awards ceremony. She explained: “I knew that we were going to get the best feature award, but I only found out about that a week before. That didn’t give me enough time to get all the way out there, unfortunately.” The competition is open to films that have at least one woman in a key production position such as director, writer or cinematographer. Films produced or directed by men are accepted if there is a lead female protagonist or the story is based around women. Ms Spurling said: “It also puts a magnifying glass on the issue of gender parity in our industry.” She added she was on a search for a production company for new screenplays. Ms Spurling said: “I was still quite shocked at how many companies there are out there that are totally run by men.” She added that festivals designed to recognise women in film were “really important”. She explained: “There is an audience out there. Movies by women, for women, actually make more money. There’s a whole viable financial model which is not being widely used.” Ms Spurling said that an additional festival announcement for the film was in the works, but that she could not reveal more. She added it would provide a “great opportunity” for the movie. Ms Spurling said she was also in the early stages of a new comedy-drama project called Me and Jezebel. The film will focus on American film star Bette Davis going into hiding in 1985 to avoid the media after the publication of a tell-all book by her daughter. Ms Spurling added: “It’s about how she bonds with her biggest fan and kind of turns this suburban family upside down, but then, eventually, more right side up.”
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.
Drummer and singer Charles “Tao” Taylor died at the age of 71 in June in Toronto, Canada. He was a prolific musician who set the tempo for one of the island’s hottest acts from the 1970s and 1980s, Burning Ice. A memorial jam session for him was held at the Leopards Club, on Saturday. Mr Taylor played with a host of bands in the prime of Bermuda’s entertainment scene, but was best known locally for Burning Ice. He also backed several famous visiting artists including Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Temptations and Marvin Gaye. Pat O’Connor, his sister, recalled growing up as one of six siblings in a vibrant musical household on Parsons Road in Pembroke. Their parents, Robert and Gwendolyn Taylor, were both artists. “Everybody used to come, and rehearse at our house. We grew up around music,” she said. “Music was passed through the family. Charlie had his drum set and I grew up singing. Most drummers are not singing people, but my brother could do both.” She described her brother, who called her “Earth Angel”, as “outgoing, outspoken, sometimes hardheaded”. Ms O’Connor added: “The way he played was awesome.” She said she had been “blown away” to hear strangers recognize her brother’s style in the drumming of her son, Tajai O’Connor, who plays in the Royal Bermuda Regiment Band. Mr Taylor’s niece, Patrina O’Connor-Paynter, known professionally as Powergirl Trina, said her uncle’s career took flight with the musician and band leader Michael “Curtis” Clarke. She said: “He was a drummer for many years with Gene Steede. I remember growing up, going to all the different hotels where people performed, and being so proud. That was his life, his bread and butter. He would sleep during the day and at nights, he would perform. It was a time when the entertainment industry was booming.” A consummate joker who could improvise songs for fun, Mr Taylor “loved to pull pranks on people, especially his wife, Stephanie”, Ms O’Connor-Paynter added. His obituary at the memorial celebration listed local bands including the Cortinas, Six Love and Three Plus Three Explosion. John Burch, a guitarist with Mr Taylor in the 1960s group Green Forest, said the band’s name came from a picture hanging on Mr Taylor’s bedroom wall. Mr Burch said: “He was a Motown type of guy and sang nice. Charlie was funny, always speaking with folks. We’d play weddings at places like Castle Harbour and Elbow Beach.” With the 1970s, Burning Ice grew into a top act. Along with Mr Taylor, it comprised Colin Lee, Jeffrey Marshall, Basil Burns, Danny Rowling, Gregory Seymour, Wendell Darrell and Antonio Dill. Mr Marshall said: “It wasn’t very often you would see Charlie in a down mood. He kept a positive attitude about everything.” He added: “Charlie was a phenomenal singer and an amazing drummer. Nothing flashy. He didn’t aspire to a lot of chops. What he played was massive, massive grooves. You could not sit still.” June Caisey, a singer and contemporary, traced Mr Taylor’s career back to “Curtis” Clarke in the late 1950s. She said: “He was part of my life more than 60 years. Charlie was philosophical and loved everyone unconditionally. Burning Ice saw the future — they were visionaries.” Cleveland “Outta Sight” Simmons said he helped promote the band for its Canada tour in the late 1970s. Mr Simmons said: “Those guys stayed out there for ten years. To start with, they didn’t have permits. They used to work non-union places. They used to go to this club on Yonge Street for jam sessions every Saturday afternoon when Prince was the main feature. That was the same year Prince recorded the song Purple Rain.” Dale Butler, the music historian and former MP, wrote in his book, Music on the Rock: “The ‘Ice’ placed profound emphasis on originality — and an all-out effort to overcome their audience.” Mr Butler added: “Charles was an exceptionally talented drummer, who I first got to see when I was a teenager, when he rehearsed with Charles Michael Clarke, in Curtis Clarke and the Cortinas on Angle Street. He was a much sought-after drummer, who could play anything. He was a major icon in Bermuda music, when we transitioned from mainly calypso and began to explore a variety of music.”
Ross Tuzo, a master carpenter and saxophonist from the heyday of local music, died on November 20, 2018. Mr Tuzo was 90. He was also a prolific letter writer to The Royal Gazette in correspondence that spanned decades. Topics ranged from politics, particularly the Progressive Labour Party, to racial problems to tributes on the deaths of prominent figures. Dale Butler, a former PLP minister and music historian, said that Mr Tuzo and his late wife, Gloria, were known as “the lovebirds who loved jazz, and were spotlight dancers known for their grace and poise”. Mr Tuzo and his wife, who died last year, met as pupils at the Berkeley Institute and married in 1949. Mr Tuzo’s music career in the 1950s established him as an accomplished saxophone player with the Gilbert Rowling Orchestra, where he played with artists who included his brother, Alan “Hot” Tuzo. Mr Butler said Mr Tuzo played “during the era of Alexandria Hall and the Colonial Opera House”. Mr Tuzo looked back on “playing ballads, rumbas, waltzes, congas and the jitterbug, which had everybody on the floor for dance after dance from age 16 to 62” in a letter to The Royal Gazette in October 2017. His letters often highlighted the era of dance bands and ballroom dancing and he was among the Warwick musicians featured in Mr Butler’s 2007 documentary Profiles in Harmony. His building and carpentry career began with the art of traditional box-frame windows, which became one of his specialties. Mr Tuzo told the Mid-Ocean News in 1994: “In my family, my father always recommended that all six children get a trade or a profession, so my eldest brother became a blacksmith, the second a plumber, my older sister a seamstress and the other a teacher. Both my younger brother and I took up carpentry.” Mr Tuzo opened his own carpentry business at his home on Cedar Hill, Warwick, in 1962, which he ran for more than 40 years. His building handiwork has endured in houses all over the island, including his own home.
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.”
Wanda Ray Willis. Bermudian actress Wanda Ray Willis. In 2019 nominated for Best Female Tribute Artist, Best Theatre or Stage Performance and Best Live Performer at the Los Angeles Black Music & Film Awards. The awards ceremony occured on September 29, 2019 at Los Angeles’ Globe Theatre. Earlier, she was nominated by theNational Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP] Theatre Awards in June. In recent years Los Angeles-based Ms Willis has come close to making the role of iconic 1940s and ’50s Hollywood and theatre actress, singer and dancer Ms Dorothy Dandridge her own.
Rory Wilson. Actor and film maker, 23 in 2018. 2018. November 24. A Bermudian who found film festival success in Britain is reaching out to other locals so they can learn from each other’s experiences. He said: “One of the main things I have taken from my experiences is how key the collaborative part of it is. “In Bermuda, I think there is a bit of a quiet front. There are two film-makers everyone talks about: Bayard Outerbridge and Lucinda Spurling The Bermuda Arts Council has been very good to me. Because they have supported me so much, I wanted to do something to help create something that adds to the talent pool in Bermuda.” Mr Wilson also added that it he would love to return to film a movie in Bermuda one day. He said: “The dream is always to go back and film in Bermuda, tap into that scenery and that weather.” Mr Wilson, originally from Paget, spent a year at the London School of Dramatic Art after graduating from Warwick Academy. After landing roles in a series of short films, Mr Wilson wrote, directed and starred in his own film, Keep Me, Run, which was supported by the Bermuda Arts Council. Since then, Mr Wilson has kept himself busy both in front of and behind the camera in Liverpool. In the past two years he has produced, directed and acted in the short films Prince Jodie and cicatrix, the second of which he also wrote. “Cicatrix means a scar over a healed wound,” he explained, describing the film as the story of two brothers dealing with a tragedy. Mr Wilson said: “When we shot Prince Jodie, there were a number of obstacles. We got there in the end, but it made me aware I was still a novice in some respects. I wrote cicatrix as a challenge. It basically just takes place in a car, so I didn’t have to worry about locations. It was more about how I could tell the story through acting. There’s a lot of silence, which is a risk, but I think it came out well.” Both shorts have now been featured in film festivals along with the short film Trolley, in which he had a starring role. He said: “The response for the films has been really positive. I’m not naive, I’m not expecting them to win at Cannes, but I have been putting them to appropriate film festivals. I just got a letter today saying cicatrix is going to be in another festival. That’s three for that film so far. It’s a long process, but I’m really happy. Even if it’s just having people over, showing the film and having that discussion afterwards. We want people to engage with the narrative and think deeper. That’s really the most exciting part.” Mr Wilson said he is submitting both Prince Jodie and cicatrix to the Bermuda International Film Festival and is now preparing for his next film project, Drop.
Adi Wolf. 2919. January 9. This Bermudian actress and singer has landed a plum role as Tina Turner’s grandmother in a German production of a musical based on the superstar’s life, despite a struggle with the language. Adi Wolf won the role in Tina — The Tina Turner Musical after two auditions. The 53-year-old mother of three, who has lived in the port city of Hamburg with German husband Jorg for six years, said: “I have really worked on my German for a bit, but I thought there was no way. My German wasn’t good enough. “I got a call back, and so I started working more on my German. I went back in thinking I still had no chance, but they seemed to be OK. As soon as I got home, they called me and asked if I could come in the next day.” She added: “I found out later that apparently they already knew they wanted me for the part from the first call, but they wanted to know if I could learn the German.” Ms Wolf admitted she almost decided against going for an audition. Ms Wolf said: “I saw it and I thought it would be cool, but I thought I wouldn’t bother. Then I thought about it more and I decided I would just audition. I thought I was too old to play Tina, but maybe I could be her mother or her sister. Then I got there and they said they would like to see me for the grandmother, GG.” Ms Wolf said she was stunned after she won the role and excited to be a part of the show, which focuses on Tina Turner’s humble beginnings in Nutbush, Tennessee, and her rise to world fame. Ms Wolf said: “I’m really excited about this because it deals with a part of Tina Turner’s life that people don’t know a lot about. People know What’s Love Got to Do with It, but this is something completely different. This follows a younger, earlier part of her life and the people in her life. That’s what excited me about it. I think it’s going to be epic.” She added: “It’s also important that this is an official show. Tina Turner has been involved in every part of it. I think that’s really exciting.” Ms Wolf was an experienced performer before she moved to Germany and has since had roles in several major musicals. She has appeared in productions of Showboat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Leonard Bernstein’s Mass, as well as singing in several bands. The Tina Turner musical premiered in London’s West End last year with another Bermudian, Candace Furbert, in the cast. Rehearsals for the German production are now under way at Hamburg’s Stage Operettenhaus and the premiere is scheduled for March. Ms Wolf said she would be happy to return to the island to help encourage young Bermudians to achieve their dramatic dreams. She added: “I tried a few years ago to organize something with the National Gallery. I think jazz is a dying art and I thought it would be great to get young people involved in art and jazz, so the idea was to get artists to paint while I am singing.” However, Ms Wolf said the project failed on cost grounds, but that she still hoped to find a way to show young Bermudians that an international career in the performing arts was achievable. She added: “There are a lot of Bermudians who are doing their thing out here and I would love to show the younger Bermudians that it can be done. You really can have the life. I know for a period I didn’t think I could ever be anybody in Bermuda, on this little island. I want to put Bermuda on the map, but first you need Bermudians to know they can be on the map. The most important thing is for people to know it can be done.”
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.
September 26, 2019
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