I am not a music critic, neither a musician. I can’t sing in tune or play an instrument. But I can connect with messages and my soul appreciates the medium that music is for soul communication. On December 3 I attended “Show the World”—a Ronald “Boo” Hinkson concert. I have been to many shows but there was something very different about this one. The music and messages were intricately woven into a beautifully loving quilt that warmed my soul. I reflected and questioned myself: what was it that was different? Was it the integrity of an excellent guitarist fused with the musician’s humanity and manifested love for women, youth and Saint Lucia? Does this fusion of professionalism, focus and humanity produce greatness? Are there lessons here for all of us? I thought of my own journey, on which I spend much of my time facing death and serious disease; observing it, dissecting it, smelling it, documenting it. Many years ago I realized that being a competent professional is not enough; life’s question is always what are you doing to make life better? The privilege of a gift, the privilege of going to the mountaintop and seeing, demands a responsibility to act. The question is how?
Boo communicated the answers during “Show the World.” The selection of songs, the artists that appeared on stage, had not been chosen in some arbitrary or contrived way. I felt the vocational motivation of the artists; they were not there for the money; they were there for the love. The songs and the messages ran the full spectrum with the common thread being the Song of Love.
Charles Cadet’s “Poinsettia Blossoms” was haunting, reflections of a tragedy that is transformed by love to become a beautiful Saint Lucian Christmas classic. A song that at this time of year reminds us that love transcends death; the very message that we celebrate at Christmas when we recognize that Jesus Christ, by his life and death, taught us that love redeems everything; all pain and even death. Boo was on stage with his brother Chester who sang that song. For that moment we felt the spirit of their mother.
The first song of love that we all sing together is the song of love with our mothers. Throughout this concert I heard the message that we must place our women, especially mothers, in the special place that the Most High has created for them. The cradle of society, the cradle of civilization is the mother’s womb. As men we must understand our role to support women, to maintain that respect that they deserve. Also we need to understand how boys deprived of mothers love, deprived of nurturing love by a society that is careless, thoughtless and selfish, can become angry, twisted and misogynistic, how they can develop “burning eyes and hungry bellies”. Memories of Mike Rivers were brought back home by the clear voice of Semi Warner Francis.
We heard and observed how to engage our young people. The powerful and gentle singing by Boo of the “the school bag” reminded us to remain focused on what is going on in our children’s’ lives, to constantly discuss issues with them, guide them, lovingly discipline them. It is not about looking in the school bag but rather about looking into their minds and their hearts. We heard and saw the “power of example”. The exhortation for us to conduct our lives in a manner that we show our youth how to live principled lives, make decisions based on values that we, as a Saint Lucian society, hold as sacred, not to be violated. The principles of reverence for all life, care for the environment, honor for our history, love for one another, sincerity, and gentleness.
The power of example unfolded onstage. There were the young people from the Saint Lucia School of Music; there was Shannon Pinel, who delivered the Etta James classic “At Last.” I was impressed by that performance; it showed how our youth could connect across the water to our Black American brothers and sisters, identifying with the common history and struggle. It showed me how our young people can connect across the years with the past and appreciate its wisdom and beauty. She sang “Aye Doux Doux” and brought to life and showcased the unique beauty of our Saint Lucian culture and history. I am often moved by the gentility of our folk music and its fusion of European, African and Indigenous spirit; an expression of our deep soul. Boo reminded us that we must be in constant contact with our history and culture such that our evolution is a connected process of dignity and honor of those gone before, with the confidence of present identity and belonging that our history and culture instill.
Shannon, Jessy Leonce and Shayne Ross reinforced the power of mentorship that they expressed Boo had provided for them. It is this mentorship that passes the people’s soul-baton onto the next generation in this evolutionary relay. “My Good Day” was the wish passed on by Shayne and Jessy a song of good will and blessings to everyone. Then there were Barbara Cadet, Arturo Tappin and Tracy Hamlin, coming to the stage with that love and appreciation of music, and recognition of their colleague’s talent and humanity. Showing support as a family of artistes who understand the power of music and the need to work together in that selfless loving manner that assures success. Barbara always amazes me, the way she fuses with her sax and produces music that is heavenly. Tracy made the point that within Boo, as within Saint Lucia, there is the ability to reach the international pinnacles, the global mountaintops. In this case she spoke of her Grammy nomination based on Boo’s composition “Magic in Love.” The point was made by Boo himself when he spoke of Arturo Tapion and reinforced that a supportive network is a crucial ingredient for success.
The love of women was captured by all the songs, especially the “Song of Love.” The closing with “I’m every women,” a Chaka Khan song, was a celebration of womanhood. All the women joined at that moment, on their feet, and danced in unison in a manner that should manifest all the time. They declared that our women must be respected, must be supported, must have equality and must be loved. It reminded us men that we must deliver on this; it is the only way that we can assure that our seed will grow to be a great society. Loving our women is a declaration of love of creation and the Creator.
The love of Saint Lucia was ever present in the show; the music was virtually all indigenous, highlighting our indigenous creativity. “Show the world” made a bold statement that we are indigenously World Class. “Jeremie Street” captured that comfortable feeling we have as we walk in our communities along streets and paths that our elders, long gone, had walked. That feeling of belonging and easy flow of memories with associated emotions like walking in your worn and comfortable shoes that makes you understand that these feelings and this love is forever. “Show the world” was a concert of almost three hours, without intermission. It was a brief moment of our heaven, of what is possible. It was a concert that advocated for an ancient, yet new and relevant, way of living. It reinforced what we know to be true. The concert powerfully yet gently asked us to live life on one foundation, live life on the one foundation of love. “Show the world”, appropriately sung by Greg Chabon asked us to let our love come pouring out; it sang to us that we should have done this some years ago.
I left “Show the World” with a hope and a prayer that what is possible can manifest in reality if only we could find love. I am reminded of Dr Martin Luther King, in his book “The Strength to Love” there is a sermon that makes the point that we need to be a people with “tough minds and tender hearts”. Life’s most persistent questions remain with each of us “what are you doing today to make, this world, this Saint Lucia, a better place?” and “Do you have the strength to love?”
By Dr. Stephen King