Musician to the core
Stephen “Cat” Coore entertains the audience (Photo: Craig Harley)

The Jamaica Observer’s Entertainment Desk continues with the 24th in its Child Month series highlighting some of Jamaica’s young performers who shot to stardom.

At 10 years old, Stephen “Cat” Coore was among a handful of children selected to play the cello for Princess Anne during her 1966 visit to Jamaica to open the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Kingston.

Decades later, he says that remains one of the outstanding moments in his career.

“I was studying cello at the time, and the people who were doing entertainment for Princess Anne had requested youngsters and my music teacher at the Noel Foster Davis School of Music picked me as one of the performers ‘cause I had done well in my recent cello exams. It was at King’s House, and there was a lot of preparations. It was a very successful moment. It is definitely one of those stand-out moments in my career. Not many kids my age would have had a chance to do something like that,” Coore told the Jamaica Observer.

During that time, preparations were stringent.

“It was very difficult. You weren’t really given the freedom to play every minute, so when that time came, you had to buckle down. A lot of sacrifices were made to play cello. Then, when I was 12 or 13, it was the same thing with the guitar. A lot of practice and sacrifice,” he said.

Coore is the son of former finance minister and deputy prime minister of Jamaica David Coore and esteemed music tutor Rita Coore. He eventually chose a career in music and became a member of reggae band Inner Circle at 13.

He became a founding member of Third World four years later.

“I wanted to get into something where we were writing our own music, and it seemed like it was a positive thing because, shortly after the other members of Inner Circle began doing the same thing. The nice thing about it was that two bands came out of one. I’m still great friends with them [Inner Circle] today,” he said.

By the time Coore was 19, Third World were opening for Bob Marley and The Wailers in the United Kingdom. They also signed to Island Records, which released Now That We Found Love, their biggest hit, in 1979.

In 2008, the band received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Charles R Drew University in Los Angeles, while in January 2013, Third World were awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival in Montego Bay as they celebrated their 40th year in music.

Coore was recognised for his exceptional contribution as a musician (instrumentalist) by Jamaica Reggae Industry Association in 2021.

He noted that he had a smooth transition from child star to adulthood, and has learnt many lessons along the way.

“I’ve learnt what it means to be a performer, what it means to travel…it’s fascinating to see other countries,” he said. “One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is that hard work and dedication is what you really need in anything that you do. Also, doing something that you enjoy.”

Stephen “Cat” Coore
Stephen “Cat” Coore on cello
Kediesha Perry

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