Tue | Apr 23, 2019

Magical musical tribute for Bunny Brown

Published:Thursday | March 7, 2019 | 12:20 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
Carlton Scarlett of The Heptones was moved to tears as he sang ‘If it’s Magic’, a Stevie Wonder original, in tribute to veteran singer Noel ‘Bunny’ Brown.
Carlton Scarlett of The Heptones was moved to tears as he sang ‘If it’s Magic’, a Stevie Wonder original, in tribute to veteran singer Noel ‘Bunny’ Brown.

It was Startime meets Stars ‘R’ Us, inside the Louise Bennett Garden Theatre on Sunday, as friends of veteran singer, Noel ‘Bunny’ Brown, united to pay tribute to him in song, at a remembrance service that will long be remembered.

Organised by the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport; the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission; and the Jamaica Association of Vintage Artistes and Affiliates, the line-up read like a list of who’s who in the entertainment industry, and to top it off, secular-artiste-turned-minister, Pastor Junior Tucker, officiated. Tucker, in full pastor mode, pointed out during his sermon the significance of the name of the ‘70s group to which Brown had belonged – The Chosen Few. Matthew 22:14 was his Bible scripture of choice, “Many are called but few are chosen,” he told the gathering, as he elaborated on the meaning of the text.

THE ULTIMATE SHOWMAN

While Tucker was forthright and had several heads nodding in agreement as he recalled that Bunny Brown’s life was one of service and servitude, and had them smiling when he reminisced that Brown was “the ultimate showman, who would jump and split on stage”, it was the tributes in song that proved truly magical. Even as Bunny Brown’s sister, Minister Heather Dawn Brown, tried in vain to hold back the tears, singer after singer, with the expert backing of the Fab Five Band, gave a little piece of themselves to the man they hailed as a “true friend”.

It did not go unnoticed that as Carlton ‘Deh Deh’ Scarlett of legendary group, The Heptones, performed a cover of If It’s Magic, from Stevie Wonder’s masterpiece 1976 album, Songs In The Key of Life, he had to stop to wipe tears from his eyes.

Among the other distinguished veterans who performed were Boris Gardiner; guitar virtuoso Dwight Pinkney; Florida-based Barry Biggs – the only Jamaican to have had six songs in the British charts – and Chris McDonald with Gone Too Soon. Tinga Stewart, ably backed by his wife, Angela, paid tribute with Inside My Heart, while Mikey Mystic gave More Questions Than Answers. Nexxus Performing Arts Group, dressed in Jamaica colours, fit nicely in the mix, after which a member of the ‘70s group, Chosen Few – a very unassuming Richard McDonald, better known as Richie Mac, walked on stage, and belted out the Barry White classic Practise What You Preach. He blew the audience away. The energetic Bongo Herman had everybody on their feet happily singing the popular Rastaman chant, Fly Away Home.

SENSE OF CLOSURE

Brown’s widow, Pauline, whose face was a myriad of emotions as she sat beside Minister Olivia Grange during the service, said the musical tribute brought closure, and expressed her gratitude to the minister and Frankie Campbell for spearheading the function. “I feel better now, much better,” she told The Gleaner, as she joined a family photo alongside Bunny’s sister, niece and nephews.

Bunny Brown’s sister, who, like Pauline, had missed the official service in Atlanta, told The Gleaner that her brother will be sorely missed. “He saw it as his duty to look after everybody in the family. Bunny was the best brother ever,” she said.

Brown’s remains were cremated, and a thanksgiving service for the life of the reggae singer was held in Atlanta, Georgia, last month, shortly after his death on February 4, following a long battle with cancer.