It was nothing short of a perfect send off for a woman who was described as a pillar of one of the island’s biggest calypso tents, De Big Show.
Family, friends and especially members of the local entertainment fraternity turned out at Coral Ride Memorial Gardens in their numbers this morning to bid farewell, and celebrate the life of Charmaine Julitta Stuart.
Stuart, who served as the front house manager for De Big Show over the past seven years, passed away at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on January 11, 2018 after a brief illness.
Before the two-hour long service got under way there were a number of tributes, but none was as touching and moving as that paid by a group of veteran and upcoming soca artistes and calypsonians.
Led by three-time regional calypso queen Chrystal Cummins-Beckles, Adrian Clarke, Jamal Slocombe and local icon The Mighty Gabby, they performed an extraordinary rendition of Irish-Norwegian duo, Secret Garden’s hit song, You Raise Me Up, which brought tears to people’s eyes.
Other local artistes present included reigning Sweet Soca monarch Red Plastic Bag, The Mighty Grynner, Mistah Dale, Mr Blood, TC, Classic, Adonijah, Natahlee Burke , IWeb, Biggie Irie, Donella, John King, Smokey Burke and Mac Fingall, who was the master of ceremonies.
During the segment, some mourners and members of the Twisterz cheerleading group, to which Stuart and her daughter, Jada Hall of Christ Church Foundation School belonged, were moved to tears as they tried to come to grips with the loss of a woman who touched many lives.
Delivering the eulogy, Ronald Hewitt described the type of character the 49-year-old portrayed during her earthly journey.
“Charmaine was very kind-hearted, loved to share and nothing she had was never too big . . . to give someone else. With her pleasant personality she just fitted into whatever the circumstance was and greeted everyone like she always knew them. She was full of life and loved a sport,” he said.
Hewitt also reminisced on the love Stuart had for Barbados’ biggest cultural festival, stressing that she was extremely dedicated to Crop Over and played an integral part in the success of the Big Show.
“Most of you here would know that Charmaine loved Crop Over and she considered herself a connoisseur where calypso was concerned. This love perhaps nurtured her eventual association with one of Barbados’ biggest calypso tents where she was front house manager at the time of her death. She went far beyond her duties to ensure the business was operated in an efficient and professional manner . . . . She was focused and worked hard.”
Addressing the packed chapel, Canon Curtis Goodridge based his sermon on the famous resurrection story in the Bible, encouraging those gathered to live their lives in subjection to God.
“Death is not the end. As long as you live in Christ and die in Christ no grave can hold your body down. We can’t live as we like and then expect to live in [heavenly] mansions. There is a certain life we must live.
“We are to live lives of righteousness, holiness and godliness. In other words our lives must be wrapped up the Lord Jesus Christ. They must be built on that solid foundation that Jesus laid down,” the clergyman advised.