Black Immigrant Daily News
Pernell “Kabasi” Winchester –
THE Tobago cultural fraternity is mourning the death of well-known reggae artiste Pernell Winchester, otherwise known as Kabasi.
The singer passed away at his Patience Hill home on Friday night after a long battle with cancer.
Winchester’s close friend, vocalist Sharon Phillips said he made an immense contribution to the country’s culture.
“Kabasi would have been integral in the integration of reggae in a very big way in Tobago,” she told Sunday Newsday, adding that nurtured several of the up and coming artistes.
Phillips described Winchester as a “legend in terms of song writing, delivery and the ability to rock on stage.
“It is unfortunate that he never became king in his own kingdom.”
Recalling the deaths of musicologist Michael Duncan, Rawle “Axeback” Titus and others within the past few months, she lamented that many of the Tobago’s cultural luminaries had died with all of their knowledge.
“One of the greatest problems we are having in the Tobago space is that a lot of the icons and legends in the field of culture just disappearing without the intellectual property being transferred.”
Phillips said she and others were in studio with Winchester shortly before he became incapacitated and unable to perform.
But she said the artiste was gifted.
“He just used to take up a microphone and sing right by the door of his living room and outside in the yard and the environs of Patience Hill proper will be fully entertained.”
Phillips said Winchester also taught young artistes how to perform on a stage.
“He used to put the microphone in their hand and make them sing to the pot hounds in the yard. He was a rootsman, a really down to earth, caring person, always had a smile.”
She said he was also an advocate for peace.
“Don’t come around him with nonsense. He was a very conscious rasta man, a favourite among the ladies but a serious, straightforward individual. He was not a lukewarm individual. Is either you love him or you didn’t like him at all. He didn’t give you the opportunity to stand up in the middle of nowhere.”
Phillips lamented what she considered to be the country’s penchant for politicising the deaths of people involved in culture and other fields.
“You live a fully life without the support of society, without the political will, even without the support sometimes of the media. The promoters and the media only push who are big and who look like they will sell a headline. A little artiste will suffer and they not going to get any traction and as a result, their career die before they do.”
Phillips, who spent many years performing in Germany, said when she returned to Tobago, “I recognised that there isn’t a framework really in place for artistes to even take care of themselves properly.
“What we have is more like a cabal – who inside, inside and who outside, outside. And we don’t honour people until they in a casket.”
Phillips said the artiste was cared for by his son, Kareem Winchester.