Stars Align For Karen Smith Memorial Scholarship Concert

Stars Align For Karen Smith Memorial Scholarship Concert

September 7, 2022 – Kingston, Jamaica: Activities to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the
Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts continue with the staging of a fund-raising
concert on Sunday, September 25. The showcase will be held at the Vera Moody Concert Hall on
the College’s campus on Arthur Wint Drive in St Andrew, starting at 6:00 pm.
Organised by the college’s School of Music and Friends of Karen Smith – a group set up to
celebrate the late Jamaican cabaret act – the event is being staged to fund the Karen Smith
Memorial Scholarship and the refurbishing and soundproofing of a practice room at the School
of Music, which will be named in Smith’s honour.
‘This is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the life and work of this great Jamaican figure. Karen
Smith has contributed so much to Jamaican music and was also very involved here at the School
of Music where she took classes and held rehearsals. So, we are just thrilled to be the host of this
concert,” noted Andre Adman, Acting Dean at the School of Music.
Mr Adman further noted that over the years there has been a growing number of students who
cannot complete their studies due to financial constraints and therefore having a scholarship to
assist some of these students is most definitely welcomed. The scholarship will be made available
to deserving students majoring in vocal performance who are facing financial challenges and have
a strong record of academic performance.
“A fundraiser of this nature will help our students in a great way. The truth is there are students
who are unable to fund their education, and this will help to meet their financial needs. This takes
on added significance as it is the 45th anniversary of the college, as we along with members of
the music fraternity rise and respond to the needs of the students.” he added.
An impressive roster of stellar Jamaican singers and musicians have pledged their support for this
benefit concert which is under the distinguished patronage of former Prime Minister PJ
Patterson. Among the acts who have given their time and talent gratis to this effort are Ernie Smith, Dean
Frazer, Boris Gardiner, Desi Jones, Gem Myers, Jon Williams, Carlene Davis, Myrna Hague,
DiMario McDowell, Peter Ashbourne, Pam Hall, Junior Tucker, Seretse Small, Dwight Richards,
Keisha Patterson, Rosina Christina Moder, Maria Myrie, Charmaine Lemonious, Dr Kathy Brown,
Harold Davis, Everton Pessoa, and Ozou’ne. Karen Smith’s widower, renowned bass player Jackie
Jackson, and their daughter Courtni are also set to deliver a special performance for patrons.
Emcees for the event is Fae Ellington and Michael Anthony Cuffe.
Judith Jones, representing the Friends of Karen Smith noted that the late performers’ infectious
personality, and kind-hearted spirit was among the reasons the event was conceptualised to
assist students and to memorialise the unforgettable artiste.
“I first met Karen in the 1980s when she was working in the banking industry. Since then, I have
come to know and love her effervescent personality; always bubbly, always upbeat, always
positive and always bringing light into a person’s space. No matter how you felt down and in the
dark, once she came into your presence there was light. In addition, she was always seeking to
help someone who needed the help and caring about what another person was going through.
This was why I felt that someone like Karen Smith, so unforgettable and so caring, we had to do
something to memorialise her,” Mrs. Jones expressed.
Mrs Jones noted that the idea of the concert and scholarship was co-conceptualised with her
husband, renowned drummer Desi Jones, and the response from the local music community has
been nothing short of encouraging.
“It was during Covid that we discovered that she was ill, and we had hopes, and then suddenly
she was gone. We just can’t forget Karen like that; what better way to remember Karen than as
a giving person. Everybody I spoke with was on board immediately, positive responses all around.
There was nobody who had an ‘iffy’ response. This is such as testament to who Karen Smith was
and how she lived,” said Mrs Jones.
Karen Smith was a popular cabaret performer and recording artiste. She died on September 11
last year after a battle with colon cancer. In addition to her prowess as an individual act she was
also one third of the trio Package, which also featured Gem Myers and P’Tricia Edwards. Smith
was also an advocate for the rights of singers and musicians and served as president of the
Jamaica Federation of Musicians and Affiliates Union (JFMAU).

The Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts has been through several stages in its evolution. The four Schools—Drama, Music, Dance, and Visual Arts—started out at different locations in Kingston. Two of the Schools, namely the School of Art and the School of Music, are historic because of their establishment in 1951 and 1961 respectively, before the island gained its independence from Britain in 1962.

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