Wed | Aug 23, 2017

For the Reckord | JMTC remembers Cecil Cooper

Published:Friday | February 17, 2017 | 2:00 AMMichael Reckord
The late Cecil Cooper.
Rory Baugh
Douglas Bennett
Marlon Simms
Kamla Hamilton
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One early tribute was penned by JMTC immediate past chairman, Douglas Bennett, and read by

current chairman, John Waite. It stated that Cooper was "one of the best tenors the JMTC ever had"; that he received many favourable critiques for his performances in concerts, stage shows and oratorios; and his finest musical was probably the JMTC 1985 production of Jesus Christ Superstar in which he sang Gethsemane - I Only Want to Say.

It was later powerfully sung by another tenor, Rory Baugh. Other singers in the concert were Dawn Fuller-Philips, Franklin Halliburton, Jodi Ho Lung, John McFarlane, Carole Reid, AndrÈ Shepherd, and David Reid.

They were accompanied by keyboardists Kamla Hamilton and Ann Trouth, and, for a couple of items, by drummer Brandon Goffe. Other performers were Goffe's band Truth; steelpan player, Justin Lowe; dancer, Marlon Simms; and reader, Tiffanni Robinson. As usual, the concert's compÈre was the suave, witty Jeff Cobham.

An indication of the superb music to be supplied was given with the first item, The Prayer, sung by the full ensemble. The quality dropped somewhat for the next two items - instrumental pieces played by Lowe, Goffe and Truth but it started rising again with item four.

That was a solo by Reid, who showed with his rendition of If We Hold on Together that at 88 years old, his voice was still in fine shape.

The JMTC requires its performing members to be singers and actors and, not surprisingly, many of the singers on Sunday delivered their pieces with a thespian's special flair. Baugh convinced the audience that he was madly in love with all three women - Reid, Ho Lung, and Fuller-Philips - with whom he sang romantic duets.

Every one of the concert's 23 items was well received, not only because of the singers and accompanists' tremendous talent, but because of careful planning by the producer, Carole Reid.

'Ensure variety' was clearly her instruction as was evident in the choice of songs (which included religious items as well as pop and show tunes) and the juxtaposition of the solo, trio, quartet, and full-choir presentations. It also showed in the mix of instrumental and sung pieces and the addition of a dance and poetry reading to the feast.

Many of the performers (and the compÈre) reminisced about Cooper. Halliburton said that Cooper's singing helped inspire him to pursue music seriously (he is a singer-composer and conductor of the University Singers) and that he particularly liked Cooper's rendition of I'll Walk With God, which Halliburton then sang powerfully.