Sun | Nov 29, 2020

Celebration of life ceremony held for Feluke

Published:Monday | October 12, 2020 | 12:10 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
 From left, Mackeehan, Mikey Bennett, Ryan Bailey, Sting Ray, Thamar Williams, Dean Fraser, Chevaughn and Sharon Burke gather at Port Royal for the ‘Celebration of Life’ ceremony for Feluke.
From left, Mackeehan, Mikey Bennett, Ryan Bailey, Sting Ray, Thamar Williams, Dean Fraser, Chevaughn and Sharon Burke gather at Port Royal for the ‘Celebration of Life’ ceremony for Feluke.

On Saturday, Denver ‘Feluke’ Smith’s friends, family and colleagues, at least those that could be present, gathered in the historic town of Port Royal, and over 1,000 persons joined in virtually, to remember the talented musician’s life and say their final goodbyes. Saxophonist Dean Fraser, Solid Agency’s Sharon Burke, record producer Comar ‘Frankie Music’ Campbell, along with singers and instrumentalists had the privilege of attending as well as participating in the service at what was said to be a private location.

Grammy-nominated reggae singer Etana, Desi Jones, Margaret Little Wilson, the administrator of the Alpha Academy, formerly Alpha Boys’ School, where Feluke attended, German reggae artiste Gentleman, and members of The Ashe Company shared their stories on how the musician touched their lives in different ways. The resounding celebration of Feluke was that he was always spreading kindness and love, which was also visible in clippings of the musician carrying on his usual antics in studio, at events and at home, including one of him dancing with his canine pets and even entertaining a nurse while on his hospital bed when he was undergoing treatment.


Jones said, “He is one of the greatest percussionists I have ever performed with. He was such a good musician that he knew when to play, what to play, what to leave out. It was a joy touring with Denver when we were with Jimmy Cliff, because every night I would see the joy in his playing when we hit certain notes together.” The drummer also shared that Feluke would not let anyone go hungry and always cooked a “wicked stew chicken”.

Communications specialist Coleen Douglas, who kept it together as she guided the proceedings, could not fight back the tears when recording artistes Mackeehan and Chevaughn did their live musical tribute, My Way, which moved everyone to tears. Speaking to The Gleaner, producer Mikey Bennett, who almost fell as he ran to comfort Douglas, said he could see the tears coming, but “it was a necessary and cathartic release for many of us who have been on this healing journey with Denver”.

“I’d like to encourage us to drop so many of the codes we use in speaking to each other, because they don’t really tell the truth of how we feel all the time. I’m hungry, I’m behind on my rent, I appreciate you, I love you … all these should not, and can’t be substituted with emojis,” Bennett expressed during the interview carried out via telephone.

Feluke, 43, lost his six-year battle with cancer on September 5 while at a medical facility in Mexico receiving treatment. Black Panther actor, the late Chadwick Boseman, who was the same age as Feluke, also struggled with colon cancer. Boseman succumbed nine days prior, on August 28. Both entertainers had similar burial ceremonies, with their bodies being cremated and the ashes spread into the sea, in compliance with their wishes.

A video recording of the blessing of Feluke’s ashes, which took place the day before (on Friday, October 9), was also shown. Following the service on land, some friends made their way on a boat to take Feluke’s remains to his final resting place to the sounds of Dean Fraser on saxophone.