Dedicated to helping youth
Years ago Pat O'Connor heard a clear voice from God. He told her not to just look after her own three children, but also to invest emotionally and spiritually into the lives of young people around her — in her neighbourhood and at church.
“God said to me, ‘I have not just put you here for you and your children. If you take care of my children, your children will be blessed'.
“Through everything we have been blessed.
“We have been through some hard times as a family but God has been there with us through every situation.”
One of the family's most trying times came 15 years ago when her son, Taj'ai, had cancer diagnosed at the age of 8.
“My eldest daughter, Patrina, was away in school and we had to try to be strong as a family unit,” Ms O'Connor explained.
“That's when the church came right in and was there for us. It was a hard time but God saw us through it. He's always been faithful.”
For the past 35 years, Ms O'Connor has dedicated her time to volunteering with the youth group at her church, Evening Light Pentecostal Church.
She has used the arts — music, singing and dance — to inspire young people in their relationship with God. She said: “We are all here for a reason and I know one of the ways I share the love of God is through my music.
The 61-year-old got the singing bug quite early in life. Her parents were always singing around the house and both her brothers, Arnold and Charles Taylor, played instruments.
“Everyone rehearsed at my house but it was actually through church I learnt I could sing,” she said. “Growing up I was in the youth group and we used to sing in church.
“I'm still at the same church now leading worship.
“When I went to church people kept asking me to sing and at school people would have me singing. It wasn't until my teens that I really caught on that I had talent.”
She used to be part of a singing group called Soul Inspiration; she now sings with a gospel group called United Tehillah Ministries.
Ms O'Connor passed on that love of music to her children.
“My daughter [Patrina ‘Powergirl' Paynter] sang with me for 11 years from the time she was 8,” she said. “One time I had to do a selection at a concert and the people that were supposed to back me up couldn't make it.
“Patrina said, ‘I can do it' and I said, ‘No you can't'. She said, ‘Mommy, I've heard you sing this song so many times and know the words by heart now'.
“So from 8 to 19 we sang all over the island and in Canada and the US at various Christian functions.
“I've raised my children the same way as my parents raised me — with music around the house. My son Taj'ai is a musician and my other daughter, Tisheea, has a good voice, although she doesn't like that side of things as much.”
Raising her children with a love of God has been equally important to Ms O'Connor.
“I made sure my children understood the importance of God in our lives,” she explained.
“I've learnt through experience that God is always there for us no matter what we go through.
“Just because we are Christian doesn't mean things won't go wrong in our life.
“Despite our challenges, one thing we have stood on as a family is that God is faithful and His word is true. When things are allowed to happen He doesn't leave. He is there for you.”
Ms O'Connor takes that same approach when writing music — she wants there to be a positive message that uplifts and encourages people.
“I finish my daughter Patrina's radio show on Power 95 every Saturday with two songs and an encouraging word because I feel like people need that — and sometimes I've not been able to make it and people will call me and say where were you?
“One day some former students came up to me and said, ‘Guess what, you haven't seen us for a while, but we listen to you every Saturday on the radio'. When I look at all the kids I have poured into, it amazes me because children don't forget. Growing up there were people who invested in me and I'm proud that I've had the chance to do the same.
“My mom, Gwendolyn Burns Taylor, always babysat people's children and helped. She always tried to help her fellow man and she instilled that in me.”
Ms O'Connor will be performing at the Uptown Presents “Taking The Gospel to the Streets” event, happening next Saturday at 7pm.
“The free event will be held in the Place's Place car park on Dundonald Street and will include performances by 14 other local entertainers.
Ms O'Connor will sing two of her original songs: Bermuda Will Be Saved and The Armour of God. She's hoping people will leave the event feeling inspired and encouraged.
“They will see people from a variety of backgrounds and churches come together to proclaim the name of the Lord through song, dance and spoken word,” she explained.
“This event is really, truly needed because of the condition of our country right now.
“There is a lot of unrest and people need to see that we can love and come together and be peaceful. We need to put God in the forefront and see what He can do.”