Late Nadia Byron now ‘heaven’s limbo queen’

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister Florence Warrick Joseph praying for the family of Nydia Byron as they surround her casket, at St John’s Evangelist RC church, in Diego Martin. Photo by Joey Bartlett

Former limbo queen Nydia Byron, who was described as vibrant, fierce and a lover of local culture, has been given an intimate and joyous send-off.

As Byron’s casket made its way to the altar on Wednesday, former social development minister Verna St Rose Greaves rang a brass bell behind the procession. Mourners cheered as Byron’s closed casket passed their pews.

Officiating minister Florence Warrick Joseph said at the St John’s Evangelist RC Church in Diego Martin that Byron was entering heaven in time for its Corpus Christi feast.

Joseph said the home-going service was not for Byron but for those gathered, and urged everyone to ask themselves three “important” questions: Who are they? Why are they here? And in whose image are they created?

“To know God’s love is to serve him. She served him on earth and will serve him in heaven. Her soul and spirit rest with God.”

She told the bereaved Byron’s spirit may have left her, but through memories, she will live on, and by living a life pleasing to God, one day they will meet her again.

“She was a person who loved and was loved by all. She is now the limbo queen of heaven.”

Joseph urged mourners to spend more time getting to know God and suggested they do so by reading the scriptures and meditating. She cited Colossians 3:2 and said people should let their thoughts be of heaven and not of earth, so that when they die, their spirit will always be with God.

“We’re going to be dancing and chipping to music. We’re going to remember to evangelise and spread the word of God. We will remember to connect with the spirit of God so we can share the wonders of his spirit with others.”

Joseph told mourners they have to be ready for when the trumpet is sounded and the last bell is rung because everyone will all be lying “in a box one day.”

Members of the rapso band 3canal paid tribute to Byron through song, which garnered loud applause from the congregation

A founding member of the Malick Folk Performing Company, Herbert Pierre, gave a heartfelt harmonica performance as a tribute.

Byron died on Tuesday. She was renowned for her fire-bar limbo dancing and won the TUCO National Limbo Champion title three years in a row, from 1998-2000.

She performed with the Malick Folk Performing Company for many years. In 2001, she joined the cast of UniverSoul Circus, America’s first black-owned circus. The year 2021 saw the circus’s first international tour to Johannesburg, South Africa.

Byron also performed with 3canal’s dance troupe and ran FireQueen Productions, which provided dance routines and folk dancers for stage shows and corporate events as well as limbo workshops.

In a phone interview with Newsday on Monday, Malick Folk Performing Company secretary Jemma Jordan said Byron’s death was a sad time for her company. She said Byron was one of the group’s earliest limbo dancers and credited Byron’s limbo dancing for making Malick a household name, not only in Trinidad and Tobago but internationally.

Jordan said Byron introduced limbo to the circus and had made it an integral part of its Caribbean section. She said Byron trained quite a number of young dancers, and she and her company would hold on to happy memories of her.

Byron also performed with TCL Skiffle Bunch steelband, whose founder and captain, Junia Regrello, said she toured several times with the band in Europe, Malaysia and Singapore, where she stunned audiences with her limbo skills.

The National Dance Association and the National Drama Association also expressed condolences to Byron’s friends and family.