'Fattis' seen as giant

Richard Johnson

Monday, December 19, 2011

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WHETHER it was preceded by gentle, or righteous, the word "giant" punctuated most tributes at Saturday's thanksgiving service for the life of producer and CEO of Xterminator Records, Philip 'Fattis' Burrell.


Kingston's Holy Trinity Cathedral resounded with glowing tributes to the man responsible for the careers of a number of Jamaican artistes including Luciano, Sizzla and Ini Kamoze.


The mid-morning service saw Burrell's widow, Carmelita, delivering a touching message to her late husband and pledge to continue his work. Supported by a friend and with tears streaming down her face Mrs Burrell noted that her husband will be sorely missed, adding, "As we vowed on our wedding day, I will never stop loving you."


The first lesson was read by Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller, who was quick to point out that she was not attending the service in her capacity as a politician, but rather as a member of the Burrell family — being Burrell's cousin.


The tears continued as human rights activist and Burrell's close friend, Flo O'Connor, delivered the tribute to "Philip" whom she called a gentle giant made of steel.


O'Connor remembered her friend as a man who spoke out firmly. This, she said, made him a target, but never deterred him. She also noted that this belief in individual rights and freedoms made "Philip" care more for persons whose rights were being violated. In closing O'Connor saluted her friend: "Warriors never die, music alone shall live and Philip lives on in his music."


The first of Burrell's 12 children, Felechia, was also teary as she described moments with her giant of a father. However, she used the opportunity to encourage the mourners to take her father's passing as a lesson, and pleaded for persons to build relationships with loved ones that when they pass there can be great memories. "Don't be sad, my father lived his life on his own terms... let us build on his legacy," she said.


Burrell's sister, Edris Thompson, offered a glimpse into the life of a man seen from the eyes of a little sister. She recalled his love for books and reading, noting that he introduced her to the works of great writers including Lebanese philosopher Khalil Gibran. The congregation erupted in laughter when she recalled that during their childhood, in order to keep him off the streets, their mother would hide Burrell's clothes and clothe him in her dresses. She noted that this would not be a deterrent as "mother would come home to find Philip playing football on the corner with the boys... in her dress".


The local music fraternity was well represented at Saturday's service. Among those present were: Jamaica Federation of Musicians President Desi Young, VP Records' Chris Chin, Marcia Griffiths, Nadine Sutherland, Lukie D, Stone Love's Wee Pow, Tony Rebel, Admiral Bailey, Donovan Germain, Robert Livingston, Ronnie Burke and Tanto Metro.


The interment took place in the Dovecot Memorial Park.


Burrell died on December 3 at the University Hospital of the West Indies following a brief illness.


 

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