Scott of many trades
THE REVELATIONS: are Lloyd Nurse, David Forde, Frank Yarde, Richard Stoute, Anthony Nurse, Cecil Devonish and Orlando “Gabby” Scott back in the 1970s. IN 1972 HE SANG his big hit Don’t Want Nuh Young Girl. But in 1981 he married a young girl.
So, was it just “mout talk”?
“Man, she was beautiful and I could not help myself,” Orlando “Gabby” Scott, senior assistant general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, said while making reference to his wife Avonda who, at the time, was a reporter at The Advocate.
“When I wrote the song I was not really looking at it in too serious a light, but while singing it at former trade unionist and Democratic Labour Party Government minister Evelyn Greaves’ wedding, people fell in love with it so I pushed on with it.
The song did remarkably well.”
His musical career started with the Imperials,
with former Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation general manager Doug Hoyte on the drums. Scott went on to sing with The Revelations
for a number of years.
He spent 11 years on the musical scene, but always had a love for journalism.
Good grasp of English
His career in that profession started at the
Daily News in 1965 as a proofreader. He then went to the sports desk in 1967, thanks to Sam Wilkinson and Tony Cozier.
In 1968 he joined The Advocate and said he was grateful to former managing editor Robert Best, Gline Murray and Tony Vanderpool for giving him that opportunity.
“I moved up pretty quickly because I had a good grasp of the English language. My life has been blessed by having good people around me.”
But there is a special place in his heart for Al Gilkes. “He is one of the finest reporters the Caribbean has produced,” Scott said in tribute.
When black American actor Sidney Poitier came to Barbados in 1970, Scott was the young reporter assigned to cover the event. He was overwhelmed.
“I remember asking Al what to write since, after all, this was an iconic actor. He asked me, ‘What did you go to the assignment for?’ I said to cover the story. He told me to go then and write it like any other story based on what happened. He was so cool about it.”
Police recognised us
After the Cubana Airlines crash in 1976, he again had the opportunity to work closely with Al.
The veteran trade unionist, now 73, recalled that after the body parts were taken from the water off the island’s West Coast and police were leaving, he too started to leave.
“Al turned to me and asked, ‘Where you going?’ He said that we too were ‘police officers’ and would leave with them. The police only recognised that we were not officers when we got to the Harbour Police Station because one of our colleague’s father who was a policeman recognised us. Al intended to get every piece of information before returning to the newsroom.”
But Gabby said as much as there was help and guidance for cub reporters, there was also a serious level of sternness. He recounted covering a Carlton versus Harrison College football match and Tony Cozier being the Sports Editor.
“The photographer positioned himself in the Carlton half, so when he got back to the office and was asked by Tony as to what pictures he had, he told him that the football was played in the other half of the field, so he had none. I could not believe it; Tony cuss he like a pirate.”
In 1979, he fulfilled his lifelong passion for trade unionism. He joined the staff of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and almost 40 years later, he is still fighting for the rights of workers.
But this job did not come without its challenges. “My most challenging hour was the 1991 David Giles strike as the union took on the Telephone Company. I worked long hours day and night as
Sir Frank and Leroy Trotman [now Sir Roy] worked assiduously to bring about resolution.”
Giles was fired for posting a message on the notice board of the Telephone Company expressing workers’ feelings about work-related issues. He was eventually reinstated.
“The BWU is the force over the last 70 years that has kept Barbados balanced,” Scott said.
He was glowing in his praise for his former boss Sir Frank.
Scott was awarded the Barbados Service Star in 2005 for his outstanding work in occupational health and safety, and the Barbados Jubilee Honour when the island celebrated its 50th year of Independence in 2016.
While the father of four – Natalie, Leslie, Simone and Shawn – sees himself as a disciplinarian, he does not believe in corporal punishment.
“All of my children have done well and they have all grown up in church and know right from wrong. Therefore I don’t have to share blows. I talk to them a lot.”
Reflecting with a heavy heart on some issues that bothered him in the entertainment industry, he said he was not happy with the way The Merrymen and Lord Radio, in particular, have been treated in Barbados.
“They have done more for Barbados than a lot of the people who worked for the Tourist Board, and we have treated them callously.”
ORLANDO “GABBY” SCOTT relaxing at Enterprise Beach, Christ Church.