Sat | Dec 10, 2016

'Don't let John down' - Holt legacy hailed at funeral

Published:Tuesday | November 18, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Mourners view the coffin containing the body of John Holt during the reggae icon's funeral at Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kingston yesterday - Rudolph Brown/Photographer

Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer

The need to value cultural ambassadors was made clear during yesterday's funeral for late reggae icon, John Kenneth Holt.

As Jamaica bid farewell to the legendary reggae singer during a ceremony held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kingston, the issue was brought up several times as those in attendance were left to wonder if yesterday's ceremony celebrated the life and works of a reggae legend or just another ordinary citizen.

On a morning which saw many tributes to the late singer, perhaps none resonated more with the audience than that offered by Opposition Spokesperson on Youth and Culture Olivia 'Babsy' Grange.

In her address, Grange took time to reflect on Holt's contribution to the development of Jamaican culture, dubbing him a great singer and a cultural ambassador. In her tribute, she urged industry insiders to not let Holt's legacy wither away.

"The industry needs to get their act together, get their house in order," she said. "Don't let John down. Don't let his music slip from the airwaves, let it remain with us as an inspiration and a tribute to one of the greatest singers this great little nation has ever produced."

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With that said, she went on to reveal her frustration with the local music industry, stating that the only time singers such as Holt are remembered was in death.

Grange's sentiments were met with huge cheers and applause from the audience, who seemed to be in agreement.

Based on his rich musical legacy, many in attendance could be heard sharing their disappointment at the send-off Holt received. Many questioned why the venue had not been full to capacity and why more government officials had not turned up to pay their final respects to a man many consider a reggae legend.

The low turnout left a lot of empty seats inside the church. Even the two benches reserved for government officials were left practically empty, as only a few ministers turned up at the event.

Among those in attendance were Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Anthony Hylton; prime ministerial adviser Delano Franklyn, and Grange.

Youth and Culture Minister Lisa Hanna was not in attendance, but was represented by Delroy Gordon, executive director of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission.

In his address on behalf of the minister, Gordon also reflected on Holt's life, highlighting his significant contribution to Jamaica's entertainment industry.

His family was a picture of grief as they sat and listened to numerous individuals pay their respects to a man they called father, brother, uncle and friend.

Occasionally, a few of his children had to be consoled by other family members as they were overcome with emotions.

Holt died from colon cancer at a London hospital late last month. He was 69.

shereita.grizzle@gleanerjm.com