Strong voice from a wheel­chair

Low turnout for first of three Frankie Paul ben­e­fit con­certs

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - Mel Cooke Gleaner Writer

BE­FORE SINGING at the House of Dance­hall on Satur­day night, Frankie Paul told The Gleaner that he is “al­ways look­ing for­ward to a per­for­mance.” – even if it was his first time singing from a wheel­chair as the ‘Alive and Well’ con­cert was a fundraiser for a pros­thetic af­ter his right foot was am­pu­tated in Jan­uary.

In ap­proach­ing per­form­ing from a wheel­chair, a smil­ing Frankie Paul said it was “just the same, with a lit­tle twist”.

Then, long be­fore Frankie Paul was wheeled on stage at 6 Cargill Av­enue, St An­drew, singer Clancy Ec­cles Jr said, “Frankie Paul voice a no nor­mal voice.” And in greet­ing Frankie Paul as he sat in his wheel­chair on the stage, wait­ing for the mi­cro­phone, singer Lit­tle John told Frankie Paul; “It is a plea­sure to see you. You have life and you is here. Noth­ing no change ...”

When he sang, there was im­me­di­ate con­fir­ma­tion that Frankie Paul’s voice has main­tained its renowned qual­ity and his an­tic­i­pa­tion was jus­ti­fied, as he sang Wor­ries in the Dance and the mi­nus­cule au­di­ence cheered. Most of the fewer than 50 per­sons com­pris­ing the au­di­ence had stayed back from the stage as Ec­cles Jr, Spring Wa­ter, Phillip Fraser,

Tris­ton Palma, Ge­orge Nooks (who told Frankie Paul in song “God is al­ways here for you”) and Ever­ton Pes­soa, among oth­ers, sang to the mu­sic of Lloyd Parkes and the We The Peo­ple Band. How­ever, the sight and sound of the singer caused a surge of peo­ple to stand just be­fore the stage within cell phone cam­era range of Frankie Paul.

Whether pass­ing the mi­cro­phone back and forth with fel­low singers or on his own when the oth­ers left the stage af­ter a group pho­to­graph, Frankie Paul’s voice was strong and clear as he did his orig­i­nals Ali­cia, Ti­dal Wave, and Kushumpeng, among oth­ers. In­ter­spersed with them were snip­pets of cov­ers such as I Can See Clearly Now and Old Friends, done in med­ley fash­ion pre­ced­ing songs that Frankie Paul has recorded.

At times, his wheel­chair inched back and forth as Frankie Paul poured en­ergy into his vo­cals. Empress Makeda, who also did har­mony vo­cals, stood be­hind it. Es­pe­cially in the later part of his stage time, Frankie Paul clutched her fin­gers as they sang to­gether, the sinews of his left arm de­fined, show­ing the strength of his grip.

EX­CEL­LENT TREAT­MENT

One cover, One in a Mil­lion You, was done in its en­tirety, Frankie Paul giv­ing the Larry Gra­ham R&B song ex­cel­lent treat­ment. It was on this song that Empress Makeda handed Frankie Paul a piece of a white nap­kin, which he used to brush what ap­peared to be a tear from the eye un­der the left lens of his eye­glasses.

Just be­fore, Frankie Paul spoke about his ex­pe­ri­ences briefly, res­o­nance in his mem­o­rable voice. “Back in time, not long ago, when I had com­pli­ca­tions of my own, I just took it like a man and went through it, prayed to the Most High every

day that I would over­come the tribu­la­tions, tri­als, pain agony,” he said, then start­ing to sing again, his voice wa­ver­ing slightly.

His last song for the night was Cas­sanova, be­fore the wheel­chair was re­versed and the con­cert was ef­fec­tively over, one per­sis­tent vo­cal­ist do­ing wra­pup du­ties.

VERY EX­PEN­SIVE

Be­fore per­form­ing, Frankie Paul, who was born in 1965, told The Gleaner that the pro­ce­dure to fit the pros­thetic is sched­uled for De­cem­ber in the United King­dom. He could not say how much the pros­thetic and pro­ce­dure would cost, but “some peo­ple say it is very ex­pen­sive”.

Say­ing briefly why his foot had to be am­pu­tated, Frankie Paul said, “I got gan­grene and it wanted to take me away, so I took it away.” The surgery was done in Jan­uary at the May Pen Hospi­tal in Claren­don. The singer, who is di­a­betic, got a cut on the sole of his right foot that would not heal. “It caused a lot of pain,” he said.

Af­ter go­ing to a pri­vate hospi­tal in Kingston, he was given a “ridicu­lous price. I said no.” Leav­ing to go to Montego Bay, the con­di­tion wors­ened and he ended up in May Pen, where the surgery was done.

Although he lives in The Gam­bia (where he plans to re­turn to in Jan­uary), Frankie Paul main­tains a stu­dio in Montego Bay, St James, and said, “I plan to do more record­ing.” Fundrais­ers are planned for Canada and the UK in De­cem­ber.

PHOTOS BY MEL COOKE

Ge­orge Nooks (stand­ing) sings as an ap­pre­cia­tive Frankie Paul lis­tens. Frankie Paul (right) ac­cepts the mi­cro­phone from Tris­ton Palma (left) with bass gui­tar player Lloyd Parkes on stage at House of Dance­hall, 6 Cargill Av­enue, St An­drew, on Satur­day night dur­ing the Alive and Well con­cert.

Ge­orge Nooks (stoop­ing, left) with Frankie Paul (right), in front of Clancy Ec­cles Jr (left), Lit­tle John (seond left), Ever­ton Pes­soa (sec­ond right) and Tris­tion Palma on Satur­day night at House of Dance­hall, 6 Cargill Av­enue, St An­drew.

PHOTOS BY MEL COOKE

Frankie Paul (left) and Empress Makeda hold hands as they sing to­gether on Satur­day night at the Alive and Well con­cert, held at 6 Cargill Av­enue, St An­drew.

Clancy Ec­cles Jr.

Spring Wa­ter

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