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Montserrat gives 'Arrow' a rousing send off

A member of the Antigua & Barbuda police band plays a tribute to Arrow during the funeral service on Friday, October 1, 2010 at the Montserrat Cultural Centre as His Excellency the Governor Peter Waterworth looks on.

LITTLE BAY Montserrat – Tears were few and merriment much as Montserrat, with visiting family and friends from near and far, bid farewell to the Soca King of the World Alphonsus ‘Arrow’ Cassell MBE on Friday, October 1, 2010.

The estimated 2000 people at the funeral included many dignitaries and entertainers from around the Caribbean. Antigua & Barbuda was well represented with the presence of the Prime Minister Mr. Baldwin Spencer, Minister of Culture, Carnival & Independence Eleston “Namba” Adams, Mr. Vaughn Walters, Chairman of Antigua’s Carnival, Member of Parliament Mr. Gaston Browne, Dr. Prince Ramsey – Head of Arrow’s medical team, Calypsonians ‘Swallow’, ‘Short Shirt’, ‘Slane’, Clarence ‘Oungku’ Edwards and many others.

Prime Minister Spencer said Arrow was “not only the pride and joy of Montserrat but the entire Caribbean. One of his lasting legacies will be the fact that no matter the challenges we face, Arrow gave the Caribbean people our own rhythm and placed us forever, in a “Dancing Mood.” No one and no set of circumstances can ever deprive us of this joy,” the prime minister said during the tribute segment.

Hon. Minister of Art & Multiculturalism Winston ‘Gypsy’ Peters of Trinidad & Tobago (left) sings “Hot Hot Hot” with Arrow’s elder brother Justin ‘Hero’ Cassell (right).

“I could not miss this,” said the Hon. Minister of Art & Multiculturalism Winston ‘Gypsy’ Peters of Trinidad & Tobago. “Arrow loved Montserrat but he also did so much for the Caribbean and for Trinidad & Tobago. He took our music to the world.”

Leston Paul, a key figure in the development of Arrow’s musical career, said Arrow always strove to create the best work. “He pushed himself and he pushed us as well. You were better because of having worked with him,” Paul told reporters after the burial ceremony. “He pulled the best musicians, producers and artists together and I was happy to be a part of that.”

Calypsonian Sheldon ‘Red Plastic Bag’ Wiltshire, Paul Reynolds and Edwin Yearwood of Krossfyah fame were three of the entertainers from Barbados at the two-hour tribute and funeral service. Calypsonian and composer Jeff “Pe’lay” Elva of St. Lucia, On Air Personalities Dahved Levy and George ‘JGP’ Piper also attended.

Many recalled Arrow the entertainer but others like long-time business partner and friend John E Wyke of Johnnie’s Mecca Fashions recalled the support that he received when he became an entrepreneur. Wyke recounted during the tribute segment that he and Arrow were never competitors but rather Arrow offered advice and ideas to help him build his business. It went even further as both men would share hotel rooms and shipping as they built their burgeoning enterprises.

More than 10 radio stations throughout the Caribbean and in the United States carried the service live. Hundreds of others tuned into the live television and radio broadcasts which were streamed by the Government of Montserrat’s IT team.

Following the service, 300 specially invited guests were driven by bus to the private burial ceremony of the Soca King at his family home in Lime Kiln. Father George Agger, who presided over both services, said he was able to spend many wonderful moments with Arrow in his last few weeks. During that time, Arrow told the priest he was at peace with what was taking place in his body and his life and hoped that those left behind would not mourn but celebrate his passing.

The crowd packed into the Montserrat Cultural Centre couldn’t stay seated by the time Swallow and later Hero hit the stage on Friday evening, following the funeral of the Soca King of the World Alphonsus ‘Arrow’ Cassell. Photo by Nerissa Golden

celebrated Arrow’s legacy and gift of music with an impromptu concert later in the evening, featuring visiting and local entertainers. Red Plastic Bag did his famous “Ragga Ragga” song, Montserrat’s Vijon roused the crowd with his tribute song “Legends Don’t Die” and Gypsy paid homage to Arrow with “My Way”. Arrow’s elder brother Justin ‘Hero’ Cassell joined the session with his rendition of “Tiny Winy” and then sang a song that Arrow requested often his last days “Green Green Grass of Home.” Also performing were the Emerald Community Singers and Cecil ‘Cepeke’ Lake and the Black Rhythms Band.

Alphonsus ‘Arrow’ Cassell MBE passed away at his home in Lime Kiln, Montserrat on the morning of September 15, 2010 after succumbing to pneumonia caused by his battle with cerebral cancer. He was 60.

View pictures of the events surrounding and the tribute service and concert on the Sprit of Montserrat Facebook page…