Suzanne Couch had a passion for music, people, cooking and life

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Senior staff reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, August 10, 2018

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FOR the second time in as many days, members of the entertainment fraternity celebrated the life of one of their own on Thursday.

It was the service of thanksgiving for the life of singer, songwriter, pianist, and caterer Suzanne Couch at the Sts Peter and Paul Catholic Church in St Andrew. This followed Wednesday's service for Irvin “Carrot” Jarrett, former percussionist with the reggae band Third World.

On the day that would have been her 57th birthday, speaker after speaker remembered Couch, who succumbed to cancer a month ago while seeking treatment in Mexico, for her enigmatic personality, soulful musicianship and catering skills par excellence.

Prior to the traditional Catholic ceremony, music and the spoken word were used to pay tribute to Couch by those who knew her well. Among the tributes from singer Ernie Smith was I'm on Your Side, a track written by Smith with melody arranged by Couch. The members of her band, The Band, were, at times, in tears as they recalled moments with her.

Singer Roveletta Fraser recalled the heart of Suzanne Couch.

“She had the most soulful voice, but her heart was another thing — it came out in her cooking. It's one of those that is rare. I'm still trying to grasp being here... She showed me so much love, both musically and personally. She had a real passion for people, cooking and life.”

Other musical presentations included Velia Espeut, Stephen “Cat” Coore, whose cello solo of Bob Marley's Redemption Song moved the congregation to break out into song; Wayne Marshall also performed his current hit Lord I Pray for “Aunty Suzanne”, as did Feluke, who delivered a personal rendition of his Soul Alive.

The task of the remembrance was the lot of her friend of 35 years, former Miss World Cindy Breakspeare.

She recalled to a packed church that she first met Couch in the 1980s, when a mutual friend suggested they meet since Breakspeare had decided to dabble in music. they became fast friends. She said their relationship grew over the years.

Breakspeare remembered Couch for her passion.

“We performed together under various circumstances and it was not long ago that she played a tape of me recorded in her studio. I heard myself sing in a voice I could barely recognise, and I marvelled at the fact that she still had it. Once there was music involved she encouraged everyone, regardless of the degree of talent, and helped and supported in any way possible. I am sure she will be greatly missed in the music fraternity for that.

“Music was Suzanne's true passion and in reviewing her various performances and videos on You t ube, as I have done repeatedly in the last month, it is truly an impressive body of work. She believed that there was nothing she could not achieve in this arena, and worked with some of the brightest and best. Luther Vandross, Rob Mounsey, Monty Alexander, Roberta Flack, Les McCan, Dave Stewart, Ali Campbell of UB40, and Chris Botti,” she continued.

Breakspeare also spoke of her friend's gallant battle with cancer.

“Suzanne put up a magnificent fight and I cannot say how much I admired her strength, courage and determination to live her very best life each and every day, even in the face of adversity. She never complained and never lost her sense of humour. Suzanne will remain an inspiration to me. Her largesse in every area of her life was unparalleled and, looking back, I realise that so much of what Suzanne embodied were things I wanted to be: an accomplished musician, the consummate hostess and a liver and lover of life that could take your breath away. She was a devoted wife to Peter, an amazing mother to Sarah, her only child, a doting grandmother to Lucas, and a somewhat intimidating mother-in-law to Eric, whom she loved very much. She always put her family first and loved them all unconditionally.,” Breakspeare said.

Couch was born in Kingston in 1961 to Phyllis O'Conner nee Espeut and Albert O'Conner. She attended Campion College where she excelled at music and went on to major in music at university in the United States. She married Peter Couch in 1984. She died on July 9.

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