Farewell, Joslynne Carr-Sealey

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Joslynne Carr-Sealey –

FAMILY members, friends and former musical colleagues met at All Saints Anglican Church in Port of Spain on Wednesday to bid farewell to the late Joslynn Carr-Sealey, singer, music teacher and leading light of the TT Music Festival.

Chantal Esdelle, musician and former pupil of Carr-Sealey at Bishop Anstey High School (St Hilary’s), in her tribute recalled being mesmerised by her singing a concert, Classical Jewels.

“Mrs Sealey was the star of Classical Jewels in an era in which the tone and clarity of the steel pan playing classics could be likened to liquid glass. Her voice moved within, around and about it, like an intoxicating vapour. I marvelled at it then and since.

“Spiritually, it was a perfect for this national who always put this country’s art – where pan, dance, drumming and calypso were concerned – to meld seamlessly with our steel pan.” Esdelle recalled her own musical development in piano and voice at Bishop’s under Carr-Sealey who ran the school choir.

“Mrs Sealey demonstrated this commitment, dedication, heart and love to us at school particularly through the diligence and care she put into our choir.”

Choir life was about vocal development and personal development, and required personal grit, she related.

“Like all music teachers of that era, she was serious. Once you stayed though, you had the backing of a solid ally, in school, out of school, and after school.

“Bishop’s choir under Joslynn-Sealey was a well-oiled machine. We did carol service in school and/or All Saints, every single Hazel Ward special, Memorial Day, Christmas at President’s House, school functions, funerals, the festival shield. We won most festival classes most times.”

Esdelle recalled Carr-Sealey directing the operas Pirates of Penzance and Orpheus and Eurydice.

“She fought to keep music at the centre of the Hilarian experience, maybe even existence, because she knew it was a source of strength, identity and connection for all of us. Even if you couldn’t sing, ha ha.”Carr-Sealey had also kept music at the centre of TT’s national experience.

“After her retirement from the teaching service, Mrs Sealey spent near three decades serving as secretary for the TT Music Festival Association, and then as vice chair of the association’s north committee.” As an association member, Esdelle personally attested to her bullwork towards the festival.

“Mrs Sealey sourced music, chose music, filed music, typed syllabi, did registration, manned the green room, prepared press releases.

“She even left us with a manual on how to operate the festival that we would do well to follow.”

Esdelle hailed Carr-Sealey’s adjudication of Panorama and Best Village, and in fundraising towards building Queen’s Hall.

“Mrs Sealey worked hard. She worked with intention, with joy, and in prayer. She had a fundamental understanding that this world is a spiritual world, more than a physical one.”

Music producer Alvin Daniel gave a tribute by video link, in which he recalled a live concert performance.

“When Joslynne graced the stage, I noticed she opted not to use the microphone placed before her.

“When she began to sing her voice pierced the night, with such clarity and richness of tone that I marvelled that she could throw her voice that distance. She climbed the scale with such ease, struck some of the highest notes I’d ever heard from a singer.”

Sharpe recalled getting to know her as a person when both were judges at the annual Calypso Monarch competition, visiting all calypso tents in TT during the 1980s.

Her recalled both of them had also been undisclosed judges for Scouting for Talent.

“Joslynne became my personal family friend, and my two daughters treasured the time they spent under her tutelage as members of the Bishop’s choir.

“She was a strict taskmaster and did not settle for anything less than the highest degree of excellence from her singers.”

Peter Carr, Carr-Sealey’s elder brother, in his eulogy attributed her development to their mother’s love of music, including piano, and their father being a renaissance man. He said she took piano and singing lessons in Woodbrook and won her classes in the music festival.

“Classical music in our home was played every Sunday, when our parents welcomed friends to sit and chat, as was the custom at the time.”

Thanks to this, Carr-Sealey got to know the works of Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin and Mozart. “We knew all these things inside out. She was conditioned to move into that.

“The home environment shaped her life and nurtured her love for music, in drumming and other artistes, because they frequently came to our home to perform.”

Carr said in 1970 Carr-Sealey was awarded a government scholarship to study music at Mc Gill University in Canada, including a diploma in music education.

“She said, ‘That was probably the best five years of my life. I was among a community of musicians that was exciting and stimulating. I was 35 years old and had to learn French and German. That experience changed my life completely.'”

He said Carr-Sealey had judged Best Village for 23 years and Panorama for 35 years. Her work at the music festival was legendary, he recalled.

“She was a professional with high standards. She insisted her students perform at their highest level of capability and made them strive for their best.

“They valued her for it, as it taught them the importance of striving for the best and they carried it over into their lives.”While Carr-Sealey could be argumentative, she was a true friend and one who kept her commitments, Carr related. “Yet she did not bear malice, and was very kind to those she cared for.”

Carr added, “She loved her rum and Coke when relaxing and having a good time or judging. She was very religious, read her Bible daily and went to church regularly. Her connection with God through prayer was a hallmark of her life.

“May her soul rest in peace.”