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Heal Our Land

Felix Roach and Sons of God Chorus host thanksgiving concert
Friday, August 5, 2016
The Heal Our Land concert on August 14 is being hosted by pianist Felix Roach and the Sons of God chorus which he directs, as a form of thanksgiving to God. Roach has entertained at the Hilton Trinidad hotel for three decades before donating his musical skills to charities.

A special thanksgiving concert hosted by pianist Felix “Sugar Fingers” Roach and the Sons of God Chorus will take place on August 14 at the Little Carib Theatre starting at 6.30 pm. Guest artistes will include well-loved tenor singer Eddie Cumberbatch, the Lydian Male Quartet, Michael Germain and The Strings Trio, and spoken-word artiste Dennis Milton Morgan.

Felix Roach is the humble, talented Berklee-trained T&T musician who entertained at the Hilton Trinidad hotel for three decades before donating his musical skills to charities. 

In 2004, the T&T Government awarded him the Hummingbird Gold medal for his contributions to music. Roach, too, will be performing at the concert as musical director of the Sons of God chorus.

The concert, called Heal Our Land, will be recorded in HD video with the help of technology from GISL (Government Information Services Ltd) and an audio feed from Simeon “Sanch” Sandiford’s on-location recording console. It will then be edited and packaged for subsequent digital streaming on Republic Day on September 24, said Sandiford in a recent T&T Guardian interview at his St Joseph office.

Sandiford, an avid music lover, music publisher, and owner of Sanch Electronix music distribution store and recording studio, is helping to organise the concert and managing the recording arrangements. 

In addition to the audiovisual recording for video transmission, Sandiford is also eagerly anticipating production of a CD product of the concert music, and future subscription streaming of the music through Caziq, a T&T company due to launch its subscription-streaming service for quality indigenous regional music on September 1.

The CD of the concert music will be produced and published by One Caribbean Voice. Sandiford is the founder of One Caribbean Voice, an enterprising business which, among other things, aims to stream Caribbean and regional music at a high quality resolution—not mp3 or other lower end formats—at a monthly subscription rate, through the Caziq platform. One Caribbean Voice also has a plan for other kinds of activity, spanning education software, wellness, a music academy, social entrepreneurship, engineering, and certification.

At the Heal Our Land upcoming live concert on Sunday, August 14, a new group, Safari in Praise, will also be performing. They will sing four songs (Lopinot Safari, I Shall Not Be Moved, Jerusalem Is My Home, and Rock of Ages) to the musical accompaniment of Michael Thompson on cuatro, “Pancho” on box bass, Carlton “Jabba” on congas and percussion, and Michael Blackman on bongos and percussion. Safari in Praise singers are Anthony O’Brien, Andrew Ovid and Joshua Phillip. 

Also performing will be acoustic finger-style guitarist Larry Lee Luck, who will play an interlude before the concert in the Little Carib lobby. A reception at 5.30 pm will precede the live concert on August 14. 

Other performing groups may include Frenz in Muzic (Wayne Dobson), Shade (an offshoot of Jeffery Pattaysingh’s group Nite Life), and the Dominant Seventh Calypso Jazz band (Rellon Brown—musical director).

The idea for the Heal Our Land concert comes from the deep respect of some members of the Christian community for the spiritually comforting, uplifting musical work done by Felix Roach who, for years, has generously shared his musical talents to help other musical groups to develop. 

Roach has always worked musically with several Christian groups, including the Church of the Incarnation in Maloney, the choir at St Jude’s in Arima and The Trinidad Christian Centre in Petit Valley. He delights in sharing his music for “God’s work” and is currently musical director of the Sons of God Chorus, a group of male singers established just three years ago. 

The Sons of God Chorus members are the singing voice of the larger men’s group that was formed at the initiative of the former parish priest, Fr Dr Arnold Francis in 2005 from the Roman Catholic Parish of Bourg Mulatresse. 

They enjoy singing Marian hymns, which are peaceful songs in praise of Mary.

Sandiford shared with the T&T Guardian that Felix Roach recently gave a copy of his CD—Felix Roach Plays the Spirituals—to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI as a gift. The Pope, who is a musician himself (he plays the piano), subsequently gave Roach, as a form of acknowledgement and appreciation for the CD gift, a copy of his most recent book—Great Christian Thinkers.

The Bible speaks of ten divine commandments given to the Israelites at biblical Mount Sinai as guides to better living. Spoken word artiste Dennis Morgan, in one of his compositions, Whither Technology, adds his own suggestion of an 11th commandment to this list: heal our land—an idea which organisers quickly adopted as an apt name for the August 14 concert.

Part proceeds of streaming of the concert will go towards the restoration and upgrading of technical production capacity at the Little Carib Theatre, including providing the theatre with a clean power supply for audio, upgrading the lighting system, and enhancing the acoustics. Sandiford said he has previous experience of recording at this small theatre space (he recorded the Lydian Singers—Season of Negro Spirituals CD there) and is looking forward to helping provide better acoustics for the space through some of the concert returns.

Other concert income will go to paying for the production itself—costs include theatre rental, security, printing of tickets, marketing, legal costs, the cocktail reception and paying for the audiovisual recording of the concert, plus subsequent editing and packaging of it via multimedia.

The many levels of cooperation and assistance among musicians, performers, organisers and the Roman Catholic community to bring the Heal Our Land concert together is a testament to the power of belief on different levels, commented Sandiford. All are invited to enjoy what promises to be an uplifting night of music.

Available from Andre—675-4264, 683-9502, Sanch—663-1384, and the Little Carib Theatre Box Office through Michael—779-3280 or 622-4644. 


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