The local entertainment fraternity has been thrown into a state of shock with the sudden hospitalization of veteran calypsonian William Smokey Burke, who is suffering from an undisclosed disease.
Among those shaken by the news was Merle Niles, a manager of the First Citizens De Big Show calypso tent, who told Barbados TODAY when she saw Burke at the Pic-O-De-Crop semi-final 11 days ago, he was his usual jovial self, evoking laughter from everyone around him.
“I do not know when he started feeling badly or anything, it is just that we got this thing saying that he was in the hospital and he went on the ward today,” Niles said.
“The entire fraternity is praying for his speedy recovery and they visited today. We spent so much time at the semi-final; he was talking his usual role. You cannot be sad or crying or miserable around him as he always has something crazy to say,” she stressed, adding that the news has had an impact on Colin Spencer, a close friend of Burke and the reserve for this weekend’s Pic-O-De-Crop final, who is now expected to replace Burke in the competition.
“We always have the reserve but we never expected that the reserve would ever sing. The person just got close marks but we don’t really expect them to have to sing and I know Colin cannot be feeling good about it as they are very close as well. You do not want to replace your friend because he is sick or whatever, not just sick, but in hospital. I know that the fraternity . . . went to see him at lunchtime and a lot of people are rallying around him,” she said.
Niles also noted that her primary concern was Burke’s recovery, not the fact that he will now miss out on Friday night’s competition where he was listed to perform his two self-penned songs, Where The Money Gone and Conversations With Bussa.
“I am not interested in him performing on Friday. What I am interested in, and what I want, is for him to get better,” an emotional Niles said.
Earlier today his daughter Sharon Carter-Burke confirmed that her father had been hospitalized, telling Barbados TODAY: “Yes, Smokey is in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. We thank the doctors and nursing staff managing his care and we thank the public for their concern and prayerful support.”
When Barbados TODAY visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital this evening a member of the entertainment fraternity who wished to remain anonymous said he was distraught upon seeing Burke with an oxygen mask and ventilator and being monitored by medical personnel.