Singer to show a new facet
A gospel jazz concert in aid of a church looking to replace a much-needed organ and raise money for a music scholarship takes place on Sunday.
St Paul AME will host The Joys are Flowing, a concert featuring some of the Islands veteran musicians.
The concert is to benefit the Heard Chapel AME Church organ fund and the Clarence (Tootsie) Bean Scholarship Fund.
Performers will include the Giant Steps Band, singer Toni Robinson, saxophonist Keith Lee and the Apex Four.
Mr Lee said he was drawn to participate as the organ at Heard Chapel was very old and had begun to malfunction.
Ms Robinson is well known as an opera and gospel singer.
I love jazz and have friends who are jazz musicians, she said. This is an opportunity for me to show there is another facet of Toni Robinsons musical repertoire. I am not sure what I will be singing but guaranteed there will be some jazz arrangements in there.
I dont attend the church but I have sung there many times. You cant properly minister in music if you dont have proper instruments. For them to want to get another organ is a good thing. Depending on the make of the organ sometimes it is just better to get a new one rather than to try to repair the old one.
Ms Robinson first got her start in music at age 13, singing at the First Church of God on Angle Street. Over the years she has sung from one end of the Island to the other.
Like most of the vocalists in Bermuda I have sung in churches, weddings, funerals and concerts, she said. I have been blessed to be able to minister at many of the churches in Bermuda and many banquets and charitable events. One of the highlights for me was being able to sing on the occasion of the 400th anniversary at the state dinner hosted by the former Premier Ewart Brown, his wife, Wanda Henton Brown and Her Majesty the Queen. That indeed was an honour and a privilege, because she is one of the few sitting monarchs left in the world.
Ms Robinson had a wardrobe malfunction shortly before performing before the Queen one of her sandals fell apart. A sound guy fixed her shoe with duct tape. The long gown she was wearing helped to disguise it.
Later, after the event, at home every time I looked at those taped-up shoes in the corner I would laugh, said Ms Robinson.
She hopes to soon start work on her first album, tentatively called God Is. She cant say yet when the release will be, but she is looking for musicians to help her put it together.
Mr Lee said he has been musically inclined his whole life. His father, George Lee, sang in churches around Bermuda. His brother, the late Colin Lee, was also a well known musician.
My musical gift has taken me further than my father as far as the public goes, he said. When we were little he bought my brother Colin and I ukuleles. In the late 1960s I played with a group called the Emancipations. I was known for singing and playing the guitar at that point.
He started learning the saxophone after the band disbanded. He took classes and spent a summer at the Berklee College of Music in Boston but over the years let his interest in the saxophone slide. It was rekindled a few years ago when he was asked to teach others how to play.
That rekindled the fire like it never burned before, he said. I really had to practice to teach them. Now I perform around the Island, often at birthday parties and funerals or for nursing homes. It is a pleasure because I recognise that the gift is not given to me for me. It was given to me to uplift the people that I play for. I do it in honour of God.
The concert starts at 4pm. Patrons tickets are $50 and general admission tickets are $35. Tickets are available by calling 292-3949.
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