Entertainment

Brevett buried: Poor turnout for pioneer's funeral

BY CECELIA CAMPBELL-LIVINGSTON Observer staff reporter livingstonc@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, June 04, 2012    

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THE adage, "A prophet has no honour in his own country" rang throughout yesterday's funeral service for Skatalites member Lloyd Brevett.

The empty seats at the University Chapel of the University of the West Indies, told its own story as Jamaica Labour Party spokesman on youth and culture, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, noted, "I'm disappointed that it's not standing room only ... when our icons pass there must be respect."

Brevett died May 2 at age 80 from complications from a series of seizures and strokes.

There were moving moments. Deejay Shabba Ranks' mother, Mama Christie, belted out God Is Standing By for Brevett's widow, Ruth. Brevett's nephew, Pastor Charles Brevett, spoke about the bass player's emotional state in his last days.

"Two things contributed to his demise ... the death of his son, Okine, and the abandonment of his friends," the congregation was told.

According Pastor Brevett, during his uncle's hospitalisation, he had few friends. He urged artistes and musicians to change their attitude, as they never know when they may need support.

Minister of Youth and Culture, Lisa Hanna, hailed Brevett as "a giant of a man", as she spoke about the reach of the Skatalites' music.

"The celebrated music of the Skatalites could not be constrained by Jamaica's shores and was picked up by the rest of the world," she said.

Hanna called for an official institution to "be created as the repository of the stories, images, the footprints and the evidence of Jamaica's principal 20th century art form — reggae music and its precision."

Grange agreed, and presented a "to do" list to the minister for the Jamaica Music Museum and the establishment of a memorial park where Jamaica's music greats will be buried.

Others paying tribute were musician Ibo Cooper, Cecil Cooper (nephew), Coleen Douglas of the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) and singer Denyque.

Relatives said Brevett's health declined considerably following the February 26 murder of his son, Okine, at their home in the Seaview Gardens community of St Andrew.

Okine Brevett had just returned home after collecting a lifetime achievement award on behalf of his father at JaRIA's annual awards show.

Brevett was an original member of the Skatalites which formed in 1964. He played on some of the band's biggest hits including Freedom Sounds and Confucius.

He was awarded the Order of Distinction, Jamaica's fifth highest honour, in 1981.

Brevett also received the Silver Musgrave Medal for his contribution to Jamaican music in October, 2010.

Among those who turned out to pay respect were Junior Lincoln of JaRIA, musician Bongo Herman and Herbie Miller of the Jamaica Music Museum.

Brevett is also survived by nine children, 19 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

His body was interred at the May Pen Cemetery.

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