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Tribute paid to the Late Alton Ellis O.D. at his funeral service, by the Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, Hon. Olivia Grange

Release Date: 
Friday, October 3, 2008 - 12:30

It is with a feeling of deep loss, that I pay tribute to the late Alton Ellis, a legend and an irreplaceable talent.

I don't think Alton recognized the power of his music. He was quite happy entertaining his fans on records or through live performances displaying a humility which with all his success - he never lost.

He was a supremely gifted artiste who gave all he could, but I think never got back all that he truly deserved.

It is always difficult to place a price on talent, especially exceptional talent, because it can never be replaced.

The vacuum that will be created by the passing of Alton Ellis is a huge one which will never be filled.

However, we can bask in the glory of having shared the space of his lifetime, and so we will be able to tell our children that we listened to his music, we saw him perform and we shared in many of his experiences, his dreams and his vision.

Alton was a seminal figure in Jamaican music:

A product of West Kingston, like myself, he was born with a very special gift and he used that gift, admirably.

He brought to our lives a feeling of renewed pride in knowing that he was so gifted and he was a true Jamaican. He always brought joy and pleasure to Jamaicans from all walks of life, while singing songs he had personally written, or songs other people wrote.

Alton was able to thrill us from every perspective:

He made us cry with songs like -Willow Tree, Tumbling Tears, Breaking Up is Hard to Do.

He made us laugh with songs like - Remember that Sunday, You Made Me So Very Happy and Girl I've Got A Date.

And he made us think with songs like - Cry Tough, Back To Africa and Lord Deliver Us.

While doing all of this, he transcended all forms of tribalism within our country - political, religious, class or race.

He was so cool.

I've never seen Alton lose his temper, become aggressive or curse anyone.

Even those who were said to have robbed him of what was rightfully due to him, remained his friends.

He had compassion and kindness; goodness and decency; he was unselfish and enlightened - and of course his passion, his unconditional love was unchallenged - you can see it manifested in the many children he fathered.

Today, as we lay him to rest, let us not do so in pure sorrow. Let us be happy, because whatever happened in the end, he lived his three score and ten and we were able to enjoy his music to the fullest.

Alton would not want to have his fans left only with the sorrow of his death. He most of all wanted to leave us with the joy of his music. A rich legacy which he would want us to continue to cherish.

My condolences to his family. I say to you all, do no worry this legacy will endure the test of time and you will continue to be proud of his achievements.

Many of our early music pioneers have passed on without enjoying the full rewards for their work or the recognition.

It is unfortunate. However, that is something we must all continue to make strenuous efforts to address. What we can as a lasting tribute to his memory is to come together, as an industry, to ensure that for the future, the full rewards due to our writers, singers, musicians and others are given to them, their family and their country.

Many of us have been leading this fight for many years.

May God's blessings continue to rain on his family, friends and colleagues, may his life become an inspiration for the rest of us and may his soul rest in peace, eternally.

Thank You

 

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