(Trinidad Guardian) Guyana-born international musician Dennis De Souza has died. De Souza, who was known among his Caribbean counterparts as a famed Caribbean pianist, died on Saturday in Canada, after battling with Parkinson’s disease. He was 77. In a Guyanese article on Saturday, it stated that De Souza, of Mahaica, East Coast Demerara, died at 8.18 am in his sleep at the Credit Valley Hospital, Toronto, where he had been a patient for the past two weeks.
The report also stated that the veteran musician, who last performed publicly 18 months ago, was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and in recent weeks pneumonia. His two sons and a sister were at his side at the time of death. De Souza’s wife died two years ago.
The article recounted the early days of De Souza and how he fell in love in with T&T. De Souza, who had an innate ability for music, started playing at the tender of age of nine years and completed a three-year music course in seven months. De Souza loved to play music by Pat Boone, Jim Reeves, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby and Dick Hayes.
But at the age of 20, while De Souza was on his way to England via T&T to study music composition, he fell in love with T&T and the ship sailed without him. But, it wasn’t the music that first captured De Souza; it was another love —cricket. While De Souza stayed in T&T, he played cricket with Harvard and Queen’s Park CC.
After one of their big victories, De Souza and his cricket pals—Willie Rodriquez, Ben Kanhai, Sonny Ramadhin, the Davis Brothers and Joey Carew went to the Penthouse, Port-of-Spain to celebrate. He was asked by the resident bandleader, Choy Aming to play piano with the band. Up to 2003, De Souza held a three-year contract at the Hilton hotel, Port-of-Spain.
Meanwhile, some of T&T’s musical stalwarts and icons within the entertainment industry remembered De Souza as a great person and a Trinidad icon. Gerald Agostini, popular radio presenter, who in his earlier days hosted a programme on Radio 100 called the Saturday Special, where he only played local music said in the early 1980’s and 90’s, De Souza’s CD was the best on the market.
Agostini said De Souza did a lot of popular cover tunes using different genres of music like latin and calypso. “He was very popular and was well known within the industry at the time. We were all friends. We made a lot of records,” Agostini recalled.
Mervyn Telfer said what he remembered best about De Souza was his personality. “He had a knack for imposing his personality on his music and connecting with his audience.” Telfer, who has been in show business for 60 years and a Trinidad Radio announcer in 1950’s described De Souza as a fabulous human being, a dedicated family man and the best pianist ever passed through the Caribbean.
Even though Telfer was caught off guard by the news, he quickly took a run down memory lane when De Souza was one of the featured acts at the restaurant at Holiday Inn now called Crowne Plaza hotel. “It was wonderful to go there to dine and dance to De Souza’s music. He could have played everything – ballads, pop, classical and romantic music,” Telfer said.
During his time in Trinidad, Tefler said he married a Trinidadian by the name of Angela Camps. After which, he went off to Canada, where he lived and recently died. Telfer said his deepest sympathy goes out to the De Souza’s family.