David Comissiong’s Tribute To Adrian “Boo” Husbands
As all former Harrisonians of the 1970s era would be aware, the late Adrian Boo Husbands was a Harrison College legend in his own lifetime!
All of us who attended Harrison College in the 1970s suffered the misfortune of being formally introduced to the study of music via an annoyingly squeaky excuse for a musical instrument known as the recorder. But there was one student among us who possessed the sublime musical genius to take the lowly recorder and transform it into an exquisite purveyor of virtuoso musical performance. That student was Boo Husbands.
Even after all these years, I can still vividly picture young Boo Husbands dramatically poised on the stage of the school hall with the recorder pressed to his lips, enthralling the entire student body with his unmatched virtuoso playing. And, of course, watching on proudly from the wings would be our extremely demanding music teacher, the late Janice Millington.
Adrian Husbands – simply Boo to his schoolmates – was a Harrison College musical giant at a time when Harrison College was choc-a-bloc with budding musical giants. Indeed, an incomplete roster of Boo’s immediate musical peers at Harrison College reads like a virtual Who’s Who of Barbadian musical talent – Nicholas Brancker, Alan Shepherd, Roger Gittens, Andre Woodvine, Dean Straker, David Kid Site Piggott, David Jordan and the list goes on. (And I am deliberately leaving out the slightly older cohort of talents like John Roett, Wayne Poonka Willock, Lee Callendar, Peter Welch, etc.)
But, of course, as a schoolboy, Boo was easily the most enigmatic of them all!
Needless to say, Boo was not only an amazing musical performer both on the recorder and on his mighty trombone, but he was also an outstanding musical leader. Soon after I graduated from Harrison College, I learnt that Boo was leading a new musical band named Black Orchid, comprising several of his Harrison College musical comrades in arms.
And then some years later, I ran into Boo and he explained to me that he had just come back from Carnival in St Vincent, where he had had an epiphanous type experience when he witnessed the musically moving spectacle of a full-fledged Vincentian brass band jamming at full blast for hours on end. This experience formed in Boo’s mind the determination to create a similar type of band in Barbados, and this is how Coalishun – his greatest musical ensemble – was born.
Of course, Boo didn’t only lead musical bands – he also led and managed calypso tents like the Headliners Tent, and over the years he helped to nurture and develop many young artistes.
I would also like to place on record the role that he played as a staunch friend and supporter of Cuba and Venezuela and of the Cuban and Venezuelans revolutions.
Boo initially went to Cuba for musical training and simply fell in love with the country, its people and its music. And when, later in life, he was in need of medical attention, he knew that he could turn to Cuba, and Cuba – to the best of my knowledge – never disappointed him.
In more recent years, Boo became so close to the Government and people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela – Chavez’s Venezuela – that he was actually employed at the Venezuelan Institute of Culture and Cooperation.
Time and time again Boo would assist the Venezuelan and Cuban Embassies as well as the various friendship and solidarity organizations in putting together and staging musical events. Indeed, the last major interaction I had with Boo was when, in October of last year, he organized an exhilarating concert for us at Solidarity House to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Cubana terrorist tragedy. What a beautiful, giving, conscious and progressive brother he was!
The truth is that Adrian Boo Husbands was both a quintessential Bajan and an extremely outstanding Barbadian. He contributed to the musical and cultural development of Barbados and to our community life in a multiplicity of ways and over an extended period of time. Whether it was Crop Over, NIFCA, the Barbados Jazz Festival, Independence, the calypso tent, his Lil Boy calypso persona, community-based concerts, St Joseph musical and artistic gatherings – you name it, Boo was an intrinsic part of it all.
I am trying hard to think, but I cannot recall Boo Husbands ever having received a national award in recognition of his many contributions to our country. And what a shame that is, for he certainly made a greater contribution to Barbados than many of the establishment figures who have been given lofty and distinguished awards.
It is such a tragedy that Boo Husbands has left us at this time, for Barbados – in its current dispirited and listless condition – needs its Boo Husbands-type sons and daughters now more than ever! Whether all of us know it or not, the entire nation is going to miss Boo Husbands, and Barbados will be a significantly poorer place because of the tragic absence of this unique son of the soil.
On behalf of the officers and members of both the Clement Payne Movement and the International Network In Defense of Humanity, I extend profound condolences to Boo’s wife and other relatives and to his many friends and admirers.
Boo: A voice that will not be muted
The National Cultural Foundation (NCF) joins with the music and calypso fraternity in mourning the loss of a man who has been a friend and inspiration to so many.
Adrian Husbands, affectionately known as Boo, traversed the corridors of the NCF for many years as the leader of the Party Monarch band, as a calypso tent manager and as a cultural practitioner with a genuine interest in seeing the positive development of the industry.
He will be remembered for his pioneering efforts in the evolution of the Party Monarch band as its first bandleader and the orchestrator of its transformation into the professional unit that it is today. He will be remembered for his outstanding contribution to the calypso art form and as a founding member of one of the longest standing tents – the Headliners Calypso Tent. He will be remembered for his wit and for his invaluable input into the Crop Over meetings with stakeholder groups, and even when he was no longer physically involved, his voice could still be heard through his calls to individuals within the organization, in an effort to offer his advice on sustaining the music industry and in particular the calypso art form.
As the many tributes can attest, Boo provided that cohesive link between musicians past and present, a family bond that we dare say could also be felt by those who have played for and passed through the institutions of the NCF and the Party Monarch band. He was a true advocate of the cultural industries and he willingly shared his knowledge and experience not only in the music or calypso arena, but also with marketing and communications.
Boo has made an indelible contribution to the music, Crop Over and the calypso tent fraternities. His passing will certainly leave another void in the cultural community, but we believe that a voice so strong will never be muted. He will live on in the memories, lives and spheres of interest he has impacted for years to come.
Farewell friend, rest in peace and rise in glory.