Gospel scholarships

History will be created in the gospel music sector in Barbados on Sunday.

That is when a major charity would be launched, dedicated to offering scholarships to qualified artistes and musical groups to encourage and upgrade the performance of gospel music, drama and dance.

The charity, which will be known as the Cyril and Naomi Legacy Foundation, is in honour of the patriarch and matriarch of the famous Leacock family or “Singing Leacocks”, the late Cyril and Naomi Leacock.

The launch will be in the form of a memorial service at the First Baptist Church, Constitution Road, St. Michael and will start†at 5 p.m.†Papa and Mama Leacock as the parents were affectionately known, served as deacon and deaconess at First Baptist where the Leacocks singing talents were honed and displayed.

Prior to his religious career Papa Leacock was choir master for the Chapman Lane Choir, which he lead successfully in several of the island wide choir competitions of the 1950s to 1970s.† Mama Leacock was his lead soprano. Later, they trained all 11 of their children, many of whom have performed professionally, locally and abroad.

The foundation includes other members of the extended family such as the Aboabs, Farnums and all the in laws who are artists and singers in their own right.

The immediate family of nine, along with the extended family, will form part of the administration of the foundation.†Paul Leacock, now pastor of the First Baptist Church, told High Note that once the charity was launched, a sub-committee would be set up to determine the criteria for the scholarships.

Leacock said the family was in the process of concluding plans to have the scholarships tenable at the Barbados Community College, the Errol Barrow Centre for Creative Imagination, Praise Academy of Dance and the Dancin’ Africa.

Paul Leacock, former leader of the defunct Leacock Trio that included brothers James and Stephen, was one of the more popular gospel groups of the mid-1970s to late 1980s. After that vocal group disbanded, Paul went to the United States to study marketing and human resource management during which time he also acquired a diploma in ministry (religion).

James, one of the more popular singing Leacocks, went on to perform with top local gospel band Promise, and also collaborated with his famous sister, Carlyn Leacock to win the Caribbean Broadcasting Union’s Caribbean Song Contest in 1992. In some quarters, Carlyn is referred to as Barbados’ first lady of song.

Stephen, the youngest of the Leacock Trio, later did a performing stint with the Silvertones and toured overseas with them. He also sang with the gospel group Virtue. Stephen, who has since added saxophone skills to his vocal abilities, is currently the music director at the First Baptist Church, while James is the worship leader at the Apostolic Teaching Centre.

Well known singer and dancer, Jan Gibson is also part of the “very large” Leacock fraternity.

Residents of Barbados are being urged to attend Sunday’s memorial service and support the Leacocks in this noble cause.†emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb

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