Saturday, 5 October 2013


Of all the people who coulda died...
Damn it, Blaise.

Damn it. Damn it. Damn it. Now is not the right time for this. This was not part of the plan. You are not one of the easily replaceable ones. We had not yet downloaded one tenth of you into the national collective consciousness.

And tuberculosis? An opera singer who dies of tuberculosis…

What is that? Some kind of inside joke between you and God on all the rest of us? Some irony, some levity to relieve our spirits after you’re gone. Well, it isn’t funny, Blaise.

It isn’t funny. At least, not, yet. Maybe one day, years down the line, when we’re toasting some new generation of St Lucian opera singers, old men like Yannick will retell The Legend of Blaise Pascal, who soldiered through unbelievable barbarism to give his island’s children the gift of THEIR OWN VOICES. And we’ll laugh at your inside joke with God and drink another in your name and give thanks that Philistines like us ever knew a soul like you.

Old Man Yannick...still working on the old part....

Tell the children of the moment when Blaise brought classical technique to the finding of our voices.


But right now, it isn’t cool yet.

It’s just a hurt. An empty space. A hole in the ground on the road to the future, the road that you widened, you helped to dig and to pave – just a big hole in the ground where all your work, your voice, your laughter used to be.

And now, we don’t know what to do. Who is going to help take us from being traditional and pop culture singers to being classically trained fat people with big respect? Who is going to inject precise time consciousness, work ethic and western-style professionalism into the hot, wild volcanoes of St Lucian talent? (Not me for sure. I was relying on you.) Who is going to teach the wild horses?
Stop with the damn conch shell.
I'm not finished and you're going to make me cry.
I’m exaggerating the fact, I guess. Our little army of artists and social activists has been surviving and struggling on since 1744, when not long after the first slave ship landed in St Lucia, the first Neg Marrons ran away from the plantation, went into the hills and formed a band with two goats and a shak-shak tree.

In the midst of wars for liberation wrapped in wars of empire against empire, we always managed to overcome our greatest losses, writing new songs, choreographing new dances, making new instruments, creating, borrowing, pirating whatever we needed to ensure that our people were always more than just fighters, strugglers and survivors.

We survived the suicide of Harry Simmons. We had Derek and Dunstan.

Harry Simmons, grand daddy of them all

Roddy, who gave up his greatness for the survival of the folk culture
We survived the deaths of the greatest teachers of St Lucian traditional dance. We had Theresa Hall. We survived the passing of Roddy, because…well, because he had transformed so much of himself into the experience of culture we have today that we didn’t even have to feel the passing of his flesh, because we still had him. We’ll always have him.

We always survive.

But this one hurts in a special way. Because we had not finished downloading you. Because we have no replacement for you. You brought something new to the culture that no one else was qualified to do. And now you’re gone, we don’t know what to do.

Damn it, Blaise. I hope heaven is really worth it. I hope that what you and your friend God are planning for us next is really, really good. Because right now, this just hurts. It’s just one big senseless lose. Damn it, Blaise. Damn it. Damn it. Damn it.

Oh Danny Boy, the pipes,  the pipe are calling...

(To those who somehow didn’t know: Blaise Pascal was a St Lucian opera singer who invested enormous time and energy is underprivileged and high risk youth. He was an artist and he was a soldier about it. He was a free spirit and a free thinker and a liberal and a conservative and a Christian and sometimes, when it was most necessary, he was a bit of a heathen.But he was never, ever a Philistine. Blaise Pascal was a credit to his ancestors and a blessing to his comperes. But God takes the best ones home before the world ruins them.)
Well, I guess that's it.
You did your part and you think we can handle the rest of it.
I guess there are just a few more tears to shed now.
And then we move on.
But we write you down, brother. We write you down.
We will never let history forget you.


  1. Didn't know him but you made me laugh and cry with this one. 2 goats and a shak shak tree...

  2. Thanks Jason. Thank you very much.