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Ex-Holt-ation! Musical send-off for John Holt

Published:Tuesday | November 18, 2014 | 12:00 AM
John Holt's sons Junior (right) and Bryan.
Bongo Herman
George Nooks
This lady rises from her wheelchair to dance on one leg.
Derrick Harriot
Tinga Stewart
Opposition spokesperson on Youth and Culture, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange (left), and Delano Franklyn.
Persons pay final respects to the late John Holt at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, North Street, Kingston, yesterday.
Karen Smith
The Silvertones
Boris Gardiner.

Shereita Grizzle, Gleaner Writer

Held at the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity in Kingston, yesterday's funeral for Jamaican popular music legend John Kenneth Holt was far from the sombre occasion many would have expected.

Although there was a low turnout, the occasion was more of a celebration of Holt's musical legacy than anything else. It was a send-off fit for the musical icon as numerous members of the music fraternity turned up to pay their final respects to a colleague and friend. Those in attendance included Fab 5's Frankie Campbell and singers Luciano, Jimmy Riley, Tinga Stewart, and Boris Gardiner.

A few government officials were also present, including Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton. Delano Franklyn and Opposition Spokesperson on Youth and Culture Olivia 'Babsy' Grange were also there. Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna was not in attendance but was represented by Delroy Gordon, executive director of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission.

There were so many performance tributes that one might have mistaken the service for a concert. Although the acoustics in the cathedral made it difficult for guests to hear parts of the songs, that did not dampen spirits as they danced up a storm when some of Holt's most powerful hits were performed by both family and friends.

The stream of performers was backed by Lloyd Parkes and the We the People Band. Karen Smith was one of the first to pay musical homage, igniting a celebratory atmosphere with Memories. She led a sing-along that warmed the hearts of those at the gathering and put smiles on the mourning family's faces.

The Silvertones came next
on the musical line-up and continued the celebration with Holt's hit
On The Beach. By this time, many persons could not
remain seated, some sauntering into the passages for more space to

Just when one thought the tributes could not
get any better, John Holt's son, Junior Holt, showed it could,
delivering a strong performance of his father's hit Love I Can
. He was then joined by his brother, Bryan, and the two
performed Stealing, Stealing.

tributes came from Hezron, George Nooks, Tinga Stewart, and U-Roy,
among others.

As the curtains came down on the musical
tributes for the morning's programme, several artistes were still
waiting their turn. However, they were left disappointed due to time

The service continued with John Holt's
daughter, Natalie, leading the spoken tributes. While many reflected on
Holt the entertainer, Natalie remembered her father. She reminisced
about the many lessons he taught her and her siblings, particularly the
need for a good education.

"He was a great father who
taught us many things and always had a message to deliver. We will hold
on to the memories and reflect on his love," Natalie

Despite the air of celebration surrounding the
occasion, there were moments when the audience was forced to remember
that a life had been lost. At points, some members of the family,
especially John Holt's children, were so overcome by grief that they had
to be consoled by other relatives and friends.

died last month at 69 years old. The cause of death has been confirmed
as colon

Photos by Rudolph Brown/Photographer