Memorable musical moments

For each of us there is the memory of a particular performance of a song at a particular time that stirred us deeply in some way, creating such an impact, for different reasons, that the memory stays and stays.

Very early in my life in Canada, I had one of those experiences hearing the popular American singer Roy Hamilton perform the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein ballad You’ll Never Walk Alone. For me, an aspiring performer, I was struck, as never before, by the power and tone of the man’s voice. Alone in a nightclub in Toronto, I was awed by the tone-with-power aspect of his singing.  I must have been 21 years old at the time, and hearing for the first time, live, a singer in full control, taking a great song and simply dominating it with great talent. I must have been sitting there with my mouth open. Drawn from the musical Carousel (later a movie), the song would become known to soccer fans when it was adopted by the fans of the Liverpool team in England, with the fans roaring it out at games to inspire their team,  itself a very stirring performance.  But Roy Hamilton’s version of it was a musical baptism for me.

Another moment came in Trinidad Carnival, in the early ’80s, when in the early morning of J’ouvert I was shocked to suddenly hear a leading steelband of the time, CIBC Starlift, coming down the road with a stunning rendition of the Beatles’ pop song Penny Lane. Being within yards of the band, I was overwhelmed by the completely different treatment of the Starlift arrangement, completely calypso, down to the dramatic rhythm breaks, not known in pop music, but common to this African-based  carnival music on the road; Penny Lane transformed. I can  …..To continue reading, login or subscribe now.

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