A GoFundMe account has been set up to assist with the funeral expenses of veteran dancehall artiste, Sister Charmaine, who passed away last week in her sleep.
The funeral is scheduled for this Saturday and the viewing takes place at the Crawford Memorial Methodist Church in the Bronx, USA, from 12 noon to 1 p.m.
“Sister Charmaine is a legend and we to send her off nice,” Barry ‘Supa Barry’ Clarke, a former selector on Silver Hawk and Travellers sound systems, told The Gleaner.
The account was set up by Sister Charmaine’s relatives, and on Sunday, had reached a little over a quarter of its US$20,000 target. But Clarke is hoping to use his influence to get persons to dig deep into their pockets and make a contribution. “The funeral is Saturday and the account is moving slowly. So I have personally reached out to a number of persons here [in the US] and some have been receptive, others not so. But the truth is that times are hard, the covid-19 pandemic has eroded the livelihood of many persons in the music business, but we are asking those who can, to make a pledge for Charmaine,” Clarke appealed. He added that he had reached out to dancehall’s first Grammy kid, Shabba Ranks, with whom he has had a long association, going as far back as being students together at Dunoon Technical High School.
“I sent him a message, but with him, it usually takes about two days before I get a response, but I know that he will assist in whaever way he can. And, there are a lot of Italians and Germans who love dancehall and who know of Charmaine’s status, so I have communicated with them as well,” Clarke disclosed.
He pointed out that with the sudden death of her mother, Charmaine’s daughter, her only child, is overwhelmed, and he sees it as his duty to stand by the family during this difficult period. “I was spearheading the search for a venue to host the repast, but with the covid thing, the people have hiked their rental costs, but I finally found a classy place in Gramatan Avenue in Mt Vernon, and it will be held there on Saturday between 3 and 8p.m.,” Clarke disclosed.
According to the message on the GoFundMe page, “Sister Charmaine was a dancehall icon with a larger-than-life voice and personality to match. She lived a full life, surrounded by family, friends and people who loved her music. She is survived by her beloved daughter, granddaughter and many others whose lives she made an impact on. Although Sister Charmaine is gone, she will never be forgotten.”
Clarke added that although the prolific Sister Charmaine had been off the radar for a while, that did not in any way diminish her contribution to the music industry. “When I migrated to America in the 80s, Charmaine was here and I used to see her at a lot of the events, where I was playing. I can attest that Lady Ann was her best friend and she was always there for Charmaine through thick and thin,” Clarke said, adding that he wasn’t going to give life to ongoing conversations about who was there for Charmaine when she needed them most and who wasn’t.
It was Lady Ann who announced Sister Charmaine’s death last week and she told The Gleaner that she had called to speak to Charmaine, but was informed that her friend had died in her sleep. “Right now, the autopsy has not even been performed as yet, so there is no cause of death listed. We are still in the dark where that is concerned,” Lady Ann updated The Gleaner on Sunday.
It was in the mid-1980s that a teenaged Charmaine McKenzie met producer Winston Riley at his Chancery Street record store in Kingston. Riley produced her first hit, Glammity, and his Techniques label was instrumental in her success. Granny Advice, Strong Body Gal, Tightness and Man Look Nice were all produced by Riley.
Since her passing, tributes have been pouring in for the dancehall artiste who was known for dominating the stage with first-class performances. Her performances on the Sting stage in 1988 when she appeared in a clash with Lady Mackerel and Junie Ranks and again in 1989 when she clashedwith Lady G, Patra and Lady P, are the stuff of which legends are made.