by Donna Sealy
John Roett has a big heart.
He might not wear it on his sleeve (forgive the cliché) but the musician is quietly going about doing whatever he can to help friends and any one he knows he can.
To some people he is a champion but to the keyboardist who played with Spice & Company and Splash Band, he is just a regular guy.
“If you can help people you help them. There is nothing much to it,” he said matter-of-factly.
His latest effort will culminate on September 1 with a fund raising concert in New York for George Jones, a former keyboardist with the band Square One, who needs a kidney transplant.
Roett told Bajan Vibes it was after a conversation with Jones during rehearsals for Soca Royale that he was moved to do something.
“Bag and I spoke. I called Alison and Blood and Mikey and Biggie and everybody and they said they will be there so it actually turned out to be a best of Crop-Over concert at the same time which we may actually do annually,” he said.
John has undertaken marketing the concert and has contacted several organisations and individuals.
“My wife died with lung cancer last year and it was terrible, terrible, terrible, so maybe that has galvanised the actual fact that our time here is not guaranteed. I’ve always known that, but when you actually face it head on it’s a different thing,” he stated.
What he is also doing is sharing artistes trades on his Facebook page to drum up more support and bring the level of awareness to the cause.
Earlier this year he was the driving force behind the successful cricket benefit match for Keana Banfield., the student of Christ Church Girls’ who was gravely ill and had to seek emergency medical attention at a Miami hospital, where she remains.
This is what he wrote on his Facebook page last month regarding that effort.
“I know it took a little long, but after a couple weeks of collecting sponsors donations and making deposits and a week of battling dengue and a week of rehearsing for Party Monarch, a cheque was made to Keana on Saturday for Sixty Five Thousand, One Hundred and Fifty Dollars.
“I have no words for the kindness shown by everyone who was a part of the event, the players, sponsors, people who helped in every way needed, and all of you who came and supported the cause. The photo is with Mark Evelyn who was my right hand and always had my back for the weeks leading up to the game and on the day itself, Arlene Quintyne, who administers the Keana Banfield Medical Fund, Keana’s Grandparents Zelly and Kirk, and Fund administrator Debbie Nicholls. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”
He is not done with that effort either, he said.
There is a shirt, and not just any shirt, that can bring in more funds.
“There is this huge item that I’m trying to raffle but I haven’t gotten around to it …. Desmond Haynes gave me a [purple beach] shirt autographed by the West Indies team including Viv Richards and him, that used to play the beach cricket in Australia so … hopefully I’ll be able to [auction] that. I called him and he came … he also gave me the coin that the West Indies used to toss with as a personal gift for [Keana] but I have to speak to the family to see if I can auction both of them,” he shared.
The musician said he knew the girl’s grandfather and after speaking to him, he acted.
“It was tragic and even though we managed to raise just over $65,000, I sold a couple more drinks and what ever stuff was left over, so we might end up with $67,000 for her. She’s been given a cheque which should keep her for another couple of months up there doing rehab. But it is tragic, she’s had nine operations at eight years old and still has spirit.
“When I did the charity for him and Smokey [Burke] about three years ago when they had cancer and I called all the artists and they came out, that was good because it meant that they are alive,”
“There isn’t anything in it. If you have friends and you have a way, I don’t have the actual money to give them, I spent every cent trying to keep my wife alive. If you can in any way help somebody, whatever it is that you can do to help somebody, there’s nothing in it for you. There’s no financial gain. As I said watching my wife die … I lived moment by moment,” he said.
And of course Roett will be there performing in New York with the others for Jones. [email protected]oday.bb