Monty Alexan­der will be ‘Home for Christ­mas’

Jamaica Gleaner - - ENTERTAINMENT - – Mar­cia Rowe

AF­TER 10 years away from Ja­maica, Monty Alexan­der, along with the Har­lem Kingston Ex­press, will be giv­ing a ben­e­fit con­cert ti­tled Home for Christ­mas on De­cem­ber 11.

Or­gan­ised by the Univer­sity of the West In­dies (UWI), the con­cert is in sup­port of the UWI Global Giv­ing Pro­gramme, launched on Eman­ci­pa­tion Day, Au­gust 1, 2016, with the tag line ‘Ed­u­cate, Eman­ci­pate, Do­nate’.

This, and more, was re­vealed at a brief me­dia launch of the con­cert, held re­cently at The Ja­maica Pe­ga­sus ho­tel’s Talk of the Town. Along with vi­gnettes of Alexan­der’s per­for­mances, the short pro­gramme saw re­marks from the vice chan­cel­lor of the Univer­sity of the West In­dies (UWI), Sir Hi­lary Beck­les and The Most Hon P.J. Pat­ter­son.

Pat­ter­son, who is the pa­tron of the pro­gramme, be­gan his re­marks in part with: “When one uses the hall­mark of ex­cel­lence, I think Monty Alexan­der is cer­tainly at the top. His style, his ap­pear­ance, his per­son­al­ity, his tal­ent, all com­bined to make him a gi­ant in his field.”

He fur­ther shared how he had been able to ar­range for the Ja­maican mu­si­cian to give the con­cert.

“I have been try­ing to get Monty, ever since I left the of­fice of Ja­maica House, to come home and give us a lit­tle sam­ple of his mu­sic. A few weeks ago, I got the hint that he has the urge (to come to Ja­maica) and that he was com­ing home for Christ­mas. I thought this was too good an op­por­tu­nity to miss. And as I was asked to be pa­tron of the Global Giv­ing Pro­gramme, I thought this was a win-win sit­u­a­tion; Monty com­ing home Christ­mas time, what bet­ter way to open the Christ­mas sea­son than by hear­ing one who has per­formed so many Christ­mas songs.”

He con­tin­ued: “We have a chance to en­joy the finest mu­sic on stage and at the same time con­tribut­ing to a most wor­thy cause. Those of us who have ben­e­fited from UWI should give back as much as we can so that as many peo­ple as pos­si­ble can en­joy qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion, spe­cialised in their cho­sen field. Help us to de­velop that hu­man char­ac­ter for what is now gen­er­ally ac­cepted as the im­per­a­tive to growth and pros­per­ity.”

And the for­mer manager of the Skatal­ites band, who has all Monty Alexan­der’s al­bum (some were given to him per­son­ally by Monty), also pre­sented a pic­ture of his mu­si­cal ca­reer – Alexan­der played Christ­mas carols by the age of four. His mu­si­cal ca­reer spans over 50 years. He worked with peo­ple like Cle­ment ‘Sir Coxon’ Dodd at Stu­dio One, Frank Si­na­tra, Natalie Cole, and Quincy Jones.

PLAY­ING WITH THE GREATS

Monty Alexan­der has played ca­lypso mu­sic and ska with peo­ple like Don Drum­mond.

“He likes to play with Ja­maican mu­si­cians be­cause he gets a beat and rhythm that he can’t get from his Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts.”

Vice-Chan­cel­lor Beck­les, who also ad­dressed the au­di­ence, con­cep­tu­alised the UWI Global Giv­ing Pro­gramme, a strat­egy to place alumni giv­ing on a sci­en­tific and ten­able ba­sis. Over­all, five per cent of the UWI bud­get comes through alumni con­tri­bu­tions; he is hop­ing to in­crease that to 10 per cent. The Global Giv­ing Pro­gramme is to say to grad­u­ates, your univer­sity is in need.

“It is no easy task to man­age a first­class univer­sity. We are short on finance, but not short on in­tel­lect and not short on commitment,” he said.

THE IN­SPI­RA­TION

Beck­les, who also en­joys Monty Alexan­der’s mu­sic, told The Gleaner that his in­spi­ra­tion for the pro­gramme came from lis­ten­ing to a call-in pro­gramme while driv­ing through the streets of Kingston.

“A lady called in about her chil­dren who are very bright and hard work­ing and they wanted to go to UWI but did not have the fi­nan­cial re­sources,” he re­called.

She told the mod­er­a­tor that they had done well in their CXC ex­ams, but she could not af­ford a bank loan.

“Then she went on to say, ‘How can you eman­ci­pate your­self from men­tal slav­ery if you don’t have ed­u­ca­tion?’ And I con­nected those two con­cepts: a dis­en­fran­chised fam­ily and bright and en­er­getic young peo­ple with­out fi­nan­cial re­sources,” he said.

Pat­ter­son’s commitment comes from his ex­pe­ri­ence as a stu­dent. “I went into the Univer­sity Col­lege of the West In­dies as a Ja­maican and I came out as a Caribbean per­son.” That is the ex­pe­ri­ence that he wants for stu­dents who will ben­e­fit from the pro­gramme.

The em­cee was Mar­cia Ersk­ine.

(From left) Sir Hi­lary Beck­les, Mar­jorie Whylie, Myrna Hague, and Hon P.J. Pat­ter­son at the launch.

PHO­TOS BY MAR­CIA ROWE

(From left) Tony Pa­tel, Pierre Le­maire, and Leonie Forbes.

Monty Alexan­der

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