Living legend Sir Emile Straker’s colossal contribution to the musical arena was celebrated in the final edition of NIFCA Music in the Square – Icons Night. Surrounded by loved ones, the renowned musician reveled in the parade of talented entertainers who paid tribute to him, watching with a bright smile.
Unlike the previous editions where there was heavy rainfall, the weather was perfect for the third instalment of the concert series. A cool breeze ensured the comfort of the largest turnout for these sessions. With all the provided chairs filled, patrons lined the edges of the amphitheater of the Golden Square Freedom Park on Friday to savour the production.
The Marlon Legall Voice Project set the evening’s tone with a stirring version of Gabby’s Emmerton. This chilling rendition not only earned them a spot among the NIFCA Performing Arts finalists for music, but also secured a win in the NIFCA Music Arranger’s Challenge.
Chelsea Cadogan-Goddard, a student of Combermere School, paid tribute with a sweet version of Beautiful Barbados, the hit for which Straker is universally recognized.
Fellow musical stalwart Anthony ‘Mighty Gabby’ Carter further honoured the prolific entertainer with a performance of his own composition Culture.
Calypsonian Sammy G was in the lineup, and she delivered Can’t Party and One People, One Nation.
The Icons Night band, which served as the backing band for the entire series, entertained enthusiastic patrons with a medley of popular tunes by Straker’s band The Merrymen. The crowd rocked in their seats, singing along to hits like Archie, Big Bamboo, Ring Ting, and Nut Seller, which featured Jeliah Boyce and Harmoni Haynes on lead vocals.
Known for their innovative approach to music, Straker and his bandmates could be appreciative of the changes made to familiar tunes. The Ryan Boyce Chorale adapted Peter Ram’s The Pledge with their own lyrics, while Dynamo Murrell and Aaliyah Cumberbatch added their energetic spin to Straker’s I Say B.
There was an explosion of rhythm when steel pannist Hashim Durant made his appearance. His electrifying set of Spice Band music, of which Straker’s son Dean is a member, left attendees in a euphoric state.
Saxophonist Mylon Clarke added panache with performances of I am a Barbadian, Sandra, and Another Dream.
Fellow saxophonist Winitrey Harper took the audience to church with a medley of songs from Joseph Niles and Sister Marshall, including King’s Highway and Walk Holy.
Students from the Ignatius Byer Primary School, brought laughter with their antics. Their contribution, a medley of folk songs, included That Cocoa Tea, Sweet Flying Fish and Cou Cou and Miss Mattie.
Adding to the cultural display with another medley was the St Leonard’s Boys’ School Choir under the direction of Andrew Lokey. The cast included vocalist Alix Cage who sang When You are Not Around and Things Fall Apart.
Tasked with master of ceremony duties was the charismatic Cassandra Crawford. The concert series culminated on a high with singer Ch’An’s performance of Legends to Legacy.