Assemblyman vows to honour late artiste Kabasi

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Pernell “Kabasi” Winchester –

A THA assemblyman has vowed to establish a symbol in Patience Hill to celebrate the legacy of late reggae artiste Pernell Glenroy Winchester, aka Kabasi.

Winchester, who would have celebrated his 51st birthday on June 12, died at his Patience Hill home on February 3 after a long battle with cancer. He was regarded as one of Tobago’s top artistes and songwriters.

During his funeral on Tuesday at the Buccoo Integrated Facility, Nigel Taitt, representative for Signal Hill/Patience Hill, said he will ensure that Kabasi’s life and work is never forgotten.

“His legacy will live on in the village of Patience Hill, by a sign or something,” an emotional Taitt told mourners, who included politicians, social activists and members of the island’s cultural fraternity.

Describing Kabasi as a personal friend and brother, Taitt said their relationship spanned more than four decades, dating back to their primary school days. He added they also played football and hunted together over the years.

Taitt recalled Kabasi, whom he regarded as the most fearless individual he had ever known, displayed a love for singing and performing early in his life. His stage name in those days was Buggy Banton.

He said Kabasi did not use his beautiful voice merely for entertainment but to promote positive messages such as unity and ending gun violence.

“I am proud to say that I grew up with him as a brother and a friend.”

Mourners described Kabasi as loving, kind, accommodating and nurturing.

Radio Tambrin founder and managing director George Leacock said he knew Kabasi as a basketball player and an up-and-coming entertainer.

He recalled Kabasi, a little known artiste at that time, had performed at Radio Tambrin’s Soca Under The Samaan Tree series some years ago.

Leacock said while Kabasi was talented, his voice was unrefined. But he said the artiste welcomed the criticism and was determined to succeed.

“He had a beautiful voice but he did not know how to sing,” he said, adding Kabasi later developed his vocals to the point where he was one of the signature acts at Soca under the Samaan Tree.

An emotional Leacock said Kabasi showed his character as a man during his battle with illness.

He said while he knew of his talents as a basketball player and singer, “to find out about the man is what will be my living and continued memory even though he has gone.”

Leacock said he sometimes prepared fish for Kabasi.

“But I realised that instead of me supporting Kabasi, Kabasi was supporting me. He would call and leave these messages on my phone about the taste and the flavour and then he would try to not make me know how things were with him. And that was very, very powerful.”

Last year, he said, Kabasi also sent him a birthday gift of $200.

“My wife couldn’t understand and I had to explain that even if disease could have robbed Kabasi of his body and have him in pain, it could not stop him from being a man. And that is what man does do. He felt that if we had a relationship and I have done things for him, when my time came he had to do what he can.”

Kabasi’s sister Anetta delivered the eulogy.

She said her brother, the first of seven children, developed his love for music at the Signal Hill Secondary School.

“He loved music. Music was his life,” she said.

“He was also an excellent songwriter. On stage, he went by the name Kabasi, which means king. And a king he surely was.”

Anetta said apart from singing, her brother also loved fishing, hunting and painting.

Tributes came from brother Christopher Winchester, music producer Michael Skeete, South-West Fishing Association PRO Carol Thomas among others.