Frankie Paul's swansong - Singer laid to rest with songs, speeches
On Saturday, a month after singer Paul 'Frankie Paul' Blake's death, his family and friends bade him him farewell.
The thanksgiving service for Frankie Paul's life was held at the Olson Memorial Church of God, Hope Road, St Andrew. Due to rain it was as some time after the scheduled start that the white casket was wheeled to stand before the podium, to a recording of Amazing Grace. Much later the officiating party, led by Reverend Adinhair A. Jones, announced the start to a relatively small congregation.
The engaging service was marked by scripture readings, tributes from the various communities of which Blake was affiliated s well as a rendition of God Understands, written and sang by Blake. The song was presented via a cell phone by Blake’s sister, Tisha Clarke. Unfortunately the wonderful idea was marred by incoming calls.
Hon. Olivia Grange, minister of culture, sports and gender affairs praised Blake’s musical talent. She noted that he was not only a great vocalist but also played a number of musical instruments.
“He has contributed significantly to our musical heritage ... I dare say Frankie Paul (who was visually impaired but not totally blind) should be grouped with the likes of Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles He has gone from us in the flesh, but the music of Paul Blake will forever live in out hearts.” Grange said.
Vice-chairman of the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affliiates, (JAVAA), Junior Sinclair, paid tribute by singing Amazing Grace and returned by request of to do Gregory Isaacs' Night Nurse. Henry Lawson, representing the Disabilities Association, described the man he knew since he was four years old as “a world-class singer and entertainer”.
The music fraternity was also represented by George Nooks, who delivered a medley including Bridge Over Troubled Water. Half Pint paid homage with Alisha, one of Blake’s hits. Copeland Forbes, Frankie Paul's former manger, introduced Luciano who rendered Sweep Over My Soul, among other songs.
Owen Brown read the eulogy.
Unfortunately there seemed to some discord in Blake’s family. This was brought to the front by Elder Orville Dorman who witnessed the late singer’s baptism. He asked the relatives to stand and say to each other “We are going to be one”. While Reverend Wilmer Jackson in the customary prayer for the family invited Blake’s relatives to the front of the congregation. With them standing around the casket, he delivered a powerful prayer that reduced adults to tears. The programme had the Reverend Lenworth Anglin delivering a fiery five minutes sermon ended with the Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Blake is survived by five children. Interment was at Dovecot.