The extraordinary and impactful life of Don Jose Lemonte Marshall, also known as Sir Don was commemorated with a funeral service at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre this afternoon.
Hundreds of mourners packed the LESC for the thanksgiving ceremony with the entertainment fraternity out in their numbers as well as employees from the National Cultural Foundation, Minister in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, Sandra Husbands and Minister of Creative Economy and Sports John King. Sir Don’s life was celebrated much like the way he lived, filled with worship, music and tidbits of inspiration.
Performances came from close friends like cultural ambassador Dr Anthony ‘Mighty Gabby‘ Carter who performed Well Done. Gabby spoke about his fast friendship with Sir Don which was formed in 1965.
A friend for nearly two decades, Colin Spencer revealed Sir Don had an enormous influence on his writing style and he always sought his advice and critique. Spencer performed a social commentary piece entitled Goodwill Ambassador for his “friend, advisor and confidante”.
Anderson MR BLOOD Armstrong claimed the 2018 Calypso Monarch title with a song penned by the musical maestro himself entitled Sexual Harassment. Before his musical tribute of a Sir Don original named Getting Ready for the Lord, MR BLOOD recalled Sir Don’s penchant for being punctual and his faith in him and his talent.
The 78-year-old was well known for his accolades as a four-time calypso monarch, Lifetime Achievement Awardee, Crop Over Stalwart Awardee, recording artiste, calypso analyst, talent writer and composer. The legendary calypsonian was also remembered as a prominent businessman, the managing director of home furnishing company Modern Living, the first black man to be on the Board of Directors at T. Geddes Grant Distributors, a devoted leader at the Hope Church, a mentor to calypsonians, a loving but stern father and caring husband .
Sir Don’s daughter, Juliet Marshall during her delivery of the eulogy described her father as “a provider, a protector and a knight in shining armor”.
“He would protect us from any of life’s dragons if he could. We always knew we had a listening ear, anytime any hour he was around,” she said while also noting the immense love and affection he showered upon his Jean.
Marshall also recalled that her father gave 110 per cent of himself to his the development of his business.
“My father’s business savvy was a natural gift, his attention to detail and execution was unparalleled. He was much a maestro in his business life as in all other areas of his life,” she indicated.
Referring to his love for kaiso which he carried until his deathbed, Marshall said that her father was largely influenced by his Trinidadian father’s love for calypso. Enthralled with the genre from his teen years as a student of the Combermere School, he assumed the name of Young Spoiler, in honour of his favourite Trinidadian calypsonian the Mighty Spoiler, before later changing it to Sir Don.
“Even though he was originally influenced by Trinidadian calypso, Sir Don began to use Bajan vernacular in his songs. He also raised the standard of deportment for calypsonians at that time as he was always dressed very dapper when performing,” said Marshall.
“My father wielded that pen like a true artist, not unlike of a Michelangelo or a Rembrandt as it pertains to art. He ate it, he breathed it, it was a large part of who he was. All days composing, all day humming lyrics . . . Daddy was always composing and he was still writing and still composing until the day before he passed,” she added.
Marshall recounted that her father’s involvement in composing didn’t just stop with wielding his pen but he was involved in every stop of the process.
“Sir Don didn’t just give you a song they would say he would help you along the way, he came to rehearsals and he made sure you did your best,” she said.
During his tribute, Sir Don’s childhood friend, Sir David Simmons indicated that the future of kaiso was bleak. With the passing of six legendary performers this year; Mighty Shadow, Orginial Defosto Himself, Lord Superior, Mighty Composer, Romeo and Sir Don – Sir David said that it marked the end of an era.
“All six of our departed brethren belong to an era of calypso that seems gone forever. It was an era when calypsos were melodious and serious commentaries were interwoven with humour, satire and wit. An era in which the very structure of calypso placed a premium on musicality and musicianship,” he commented.
“Sir Don’s calypsos are to be celebrated and held in esteemed for their topicality, their lyrical content their freshness of the melodies and their humour. Sir Don read and understood the history of calypso its purpose and power and he kept current and abreast of trends and changes in the art by attending the tents at Trinidad around carnival time,” he added.
Chairman of the Big Show Calypso Tent, Hallam Nicholls also announced the tent’s 2019 opening tent for the Crop Over festival would honour the talented writer and composer.