Tuesday, August 13, 2002
The casket carrying the body of musician Pablo Stewart,
is borne from the Holy Trinity Cathedral, North Street, by his brothers
(clockwise) Neville Lee, Willie Stewart, Richard Lee, Eddie Lee, Gene Lee and
Byron Lee. At the rear of the casket is Mr Roman of Roman's Funeral Home.
THE late bandleader, musician, stage crew chief and audio engineer, Pablo Stewart, at his funeral held last week at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, North Street, far more than his musical abilities, was remembered for his human qualities, his ability to empathise, his selflessness and his generosity of spirit.
He was remembered as a friend, confidante, mentor and as one who believed in the importance of family and for his great love for people.
Pablo Stewart's widow, Fifi, (right) is comforted by
her niece Kezia Brown, during the funeral service. (Photos: Garfield Robinson)
The funeral for Herbert Paul Stewart, or "Pablo", many would agree, was the way he would have wanted it. Music, plenty of it, was played and sung by his friends and family members. A relatively short service, but no less moving for all that, there were recollections of the good times and some tears, but not too many.
The tributes to him, delivered by his brothers, Gene Lee and Willie Stewart, and by a number of his nieces, reflected a man who had understood that the key to happiness was in giving of one's self while asking nothing in return.
Gene Lee, in his tribute, shared a number of anecdotes, many humorous, which spoke of a man who could, at one and the same time, be remarkably organised to the point where the success of an event was secured because of his unflappable demeanour and reassured attention to detail, or be totally scatterbrained, such that many things considered routine by most persons, would fall by the wayside easily.
A letter to Stewart's family signed by the charge d'affaires of the South African High Commission, paying tribute to him for his invaluable contribution to the success of their inaugural National Day festivities last year and an unfortunate run in with a policeman, whereupon it was discovered that not only his motor vehicle registration but also the insurance for the vehicle had expired months previously, illustrate both attributes. Despite spinning a yarn, in the latter case, to somehow wriggle his way out of the problem, as he was abe to do in other situations, he wound up getting the traffic ticket.
Gene, said that his brother had grasped the essence of how to live fully, by "knowing how to be a successful human being".
An emotional Willie Stewart described his brother as the "super-glue that held us (their family) together".
"His was a life not lived for self, but for others", Stewart said. "He loved people ... he never gave up on life ... He was a friend to all and an enemy to none."
And to illustrate the extent of his sibling's selflessness, he related the story of Pablo, in hospital, despite being in great discomfort and distress, asking that his electric fan and his supply of water be given to a stricken little girl a few beds away. His reason: she needed them more than he did.
His nieces, who took turns reading from various sections of a poem they composed in his honour, extolled their uncle as one to whom they could turn for advice, guidance, direction or just friendship.
In his homily, Monsignor Kenneth Mock-Yen, who spoke on the question of love, pointed out that not many persons would be capable of giving the kind of love that Stewart had evidently been able to. "He has shown us what true love is",; Mock-Yen said. "When we love unselfishly we become agents of God's love", he noted. He pointed out that "to close one's heart is begin to
die, while to open your heart is to begin to live".
The lengthy but quite moving and beautiful musical prelude, stitched together by anecdotes and insights about the man by Ibo Cooper, was marked by performances from Stewart's own band, Kotch, the surviving members of which, unrehearsed, performed the first single they ever released together, In The Hills. His brothers, Byron Lee of Byron Lee and the Dragonaires fame, who played bass, and Thirld World alumnus, drummer Willie Stewart, also played together, along with close friend and another ex-Third World member, Ibo Cooper.
In the service itself, expressly to honour one of Stewart's long-standing wishes, Willie, Cooper and guitarist, Stephen "Cat" Coore, supported by Neville Hinds and Dwight Richards on backing vocals, in something of a Third World reunion, performed, appropriately enough, Dreamland.
Kaydianne's powerful His Eye Is On The Sparrow, Dean Fraser's achingly beautiful Bridge Over Troubled Waters, the dancing of L'Antoinette Stines, Wayne Armond's adapted rendering of I Still Love You, as well as the contributions, whether through their playing or singing, of people like Chris McDonald, Dorette Wisdom (Dwisdom), Ozou'ne, Ian Hird, Rupert Bent Snr, Keith Francis, Neville Hinds, Bowie McLaughlin, Dale Browne, Norman Espeut, Carlene Davis and others, all added much to the occasion.
Stewart, who was 43, is survived by his wife, Fifi, and three children.
NORMAN MUNROE, Entertainment Editor
Wednesday, July 31, 2002
The Jamaican music fraternity lost another of its members, last week, with the passing of Pablo Stewart.
Stewart, 41, who was a founding member and guitarist for the 1980s group Kotch, best remembered for the hits, Jean and Head Over Heels, was reportedly ailing for some time and eventually lost his battle with stomach cancer. Brother of well-known bandleader and musician, Byron Lee, and of former Third World drummer, Willie Stewart, the late musician came from a large and distinguished musical family.
Byron Lee, the eldest sibling of which Stewart was the youngest, remembered his brother as a kind-hearted man who, with the best of intentions, would sometimes allow his good nature and compassion for people, to get in the way of his approach to business. Lee, who had the same mother as Stewart, said that his brother, in terms of his temperament was very much like
"He is a replica of my mother: good-hearted, never (could) say 'no'. I mean (he would) give his last dollar", Lee said.
He also spoke of his brother's gift of empathy. He described him as a good listener and as one who other family members and friends would turn to for a listening ear and for good counsel.
"He could relate to everyone. He was, like, the youngest but the eldest in mind. The entire family...used to run to him when they were in trouble. the entire family, including myself, at some stage would say, 'Paul, wheh yu think?' He was always a listener and he listened like, you know when you're asking someone to share your sorrow or your joys and you can see it in their eyes? He had that body language, that he was with you...everybody could cry on Mama's shoulder and everyone could cry on Paul's shoulder", Lee said.
He also spoke of their common interests in playing the guitar and sound engineering.
Long-time friend and fellow musician, Chalice guitarist and vocalist, Wayne Armond, echoed Lee's description of Stewart in terms of his personality and kind-heartedness. As a musician, Armond said that while Stewart could not be described as great, he was a "trier" and one who worked at his craft. He recalled that Stewart was a part of Third World's road crew for many years, prior to starting his own group.
"He wasn't a great musician but he was a trier and he loved the music. All aspects of the music. I guess he realized, too, that as a musician it was hard for him to compete with the guys who were kind of established and so he did other things. (For example) he had his own sound system. But at all times he had to be around the music. Him love it, love it, love it...", Armond recalled.
He said that he would miss Stewart most when he attended a major stage show and "[not] see him running around the rig and setting up this and in charge of some crew. That's when I'll miss him the most".
Though an active musician for much of the 1980s, in more recent years Stewart concentrated on stage management and audio engineering. His sound, stage and lighting company worked closely with Lee's Jamaica Carnival and provided services for several of carnival's major events, such as shows at Liguanea Park (now Emancipation Park). Lee recalled that the last project that Stewart had worked on for him was the inaugural Old Harbour Carnival, held on April 21.
Kotch emerged, in the early 1980s, from an earlier group called Psalms. The group went through a number of personnel changes in a relatively brief period, with the only constants being Stewart, who played guitar and his nephew Steven Lee, who played drums.
Kotch offered straight forward roots reggae music at a time when dancehall music was on the rise. The group's first single, In The Hills, produced by the group and Willie Stewart flopped. However, their follow-up single Ska Ba, produced by former Third World keyboard player Michael "Ibo" Cooper, fared somewhat better.
By 1982, the group's original lead singer Parry Hinds had left and had been replaced by Reuben "Norman" Espeut, while the remainder of the line-up consisted of Stewart (guitar), Lee (drums), Ian Heard (saxophone), Al Wilson (trombone), Earl Thorpe (bass) and Herbie Harris (keyboards). Head Over Heels and Jean hit the charts in 1983 and the group's first album, Sticks and Stones was also issued that year.
Steven Lee, nephew of Byron, was instrumental in refining the group's sound. His working at the family's Sonic Sounds recording company gave the group access to a small computerized studio, Megabyte, which at the time was rented by drum maestro Sly Dunbar. With Dunbar's assistance the group's signature sound was created.
Kotch's first new hit, Cruising, caused confusion as many believed that it was the work of a female group. However it was actually the voice of lead singer Norman Espeut's who had set aside his baritone in favour of a soaring falsetto. In Jamaica, Cruising hit the Number One spot and was quickly followed by Tears (a Top 10 hit) and a cover of Smokey Robinson's Ooh Baby Baby which Mango issued in England to considerable reggae chart success.
Heartbreak, a cover of Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight, and Tracks Of My Tears all sold well. The album Kotch was released internationally, and to support it, they toured Africa, South America and Europe and played extensively, backing singers and deejays in Jamaica, a facet of their work which success forced them to abandon. In 1990, Don't Take Away with U-Roy, and
Clock maintained their profile.
Stewart's funeral is set for next Wednesday, August 7, at the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Article by Norman Monroe, photographs by Garfield Robinson: republished with the permission of Jamaica Observer Limited ©2002 <http://www.jamaicaobserver.com>.