Artistes on show

Gospel artistes in Barbados will soon be afforded the opportunity to put their musical and drama skills on show in a major way.

Apart from offering scholarships to pursue studies in the performing arts, the newly-established Cyril and Naomi Leacock Legacy Foundation, has announced plans to utilise the multiple musical and drama expertise of the famous singing Leacocks, to get involved in the staging, management and production of shows.

Pastor of the First Baptist Church and one of the directors of the foundation, Paul Leacock, told High Note that there was a lack of scope to develop the skills of gospel artistes in Barbados.

“There is one thing to say a person could sing well, but what does that mean, if there is no scope to develop that singing abilities. Mama and Papa Leacock, particularly Papa, had limited resources, but was able to achieve much from a musical point of view. Apart from developing choirs and winning choir competitions, he trained all of us (his children) to be able to do what we do today,” Pastor Leacock asserted.

“All that we do today, are a reflection of what Papa Leacock was able to achieve when he was alive. I even have a daughter who is abroad studying to be an actor,” added Leacock, a member of the former Leacock Trio that included brothers James and Stephen back in the 1980s.

He said it was their responsibility to help others by sharing the gifts given to the immediate and extended Leacock family.

“So the foundation, which is a non-profit organisation, will form a for-profit company to stage, produce and manage shows and use part of the proceeds from those shows to fund the foundation,” revealed Leacock.

He said that an added incentive being considered to help develop the talents of gospel artistes in the various performing arts, would be competitions.

Leacock is also looking forward to producing an “old school” concert, reuniting those gospel artistes of the 1970s through to the early 1990s.

Meanwhile, he has expressed concern that the wide range of talents of local artistes were now being restricted behind the four walls of churches in the island.

“There was a time when we used to have at least one gospel concert every weekend. Now, very little is happening this is concerned,” he declared.

“Churches have now become isolated and insular, keeping everything in one place like a one-stop-shop. This is a North American model which we have adopted here and it is not working,” he submitted.

“We can’t have these mall churches, one-stop-shops. We need to be inter-related and inter-dependent. This isolation is killing church.”

The Cyril and Naomi Leacock Legacy Foundation, was officially launched last November 25 during a †memorial services at the First baptist Church on Constitution Road, in honour of the late patriarch and matriarch of the famous musical family, who have produced such outstanding talents Carlyn Leacock, her brother James and daughter Jan Gibson.

Mama and Papa Leacock, as they were affectionately known, served as Deaconess and Deacon at the First Baptist Church where the family’s singing talents were honed and displayed.

Papa Leacock was once choir master for the Chapman Lane Choir, which he led successfully in several of the island wide choir competitions of the 1950s through to the 1970s.

Mama Leacock was his lead soprano. Later they trained all 11 children, many of whom have performed professionally in Barbados and overseas.

The foundation includes other members of the extended family such as the Aboabs, Farnums and all the in-laws who are artistes and singers in their own right and will be part of its administration.†

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