[#118] Granville Campbell

Here’s an article on why music flows thru my veins and thru the tree where my family sits.

My Great Grand Dad….

Granville Campbell


Daily Gleaner, April 30, 1968
Granville Campbell (lyric Tenor) dies at 75
Jamaica’s ‘golden voice’
Gleaner Staff Writer
Jamaica’s golden voice of the 20th Century, the lyric tenor Granville Campbell, died in New York
on Thursday night. News of the death of the 75-year-old singer was received here by telephone yesterday.
Mr. Campbell had made his home In Brooklyn, New York, since 1959, living there with his second
wife and their children. He had not been enjoying good health in recent years and recently went
blind in one eye. He finally succumbed to cancer.
Born in Spanish Town on October 7, 1892, he entered Civil Service as a young man, along with his brother, Colin. But his love for music for which he had a natural talent, proved stronger than the
calls of the Government service, and he devoted his life to it.
Fame at home
During the early part of this century, he enjoyed widespread fame throughout Jamaica as a singer
and was hailed as one of the most talented musical performers that the country had produced
Along with three other gifted musicians of the day – William Spooner, bass, Mrs. Steadman and Mrs. Lopez, contralto and soprano – he made up a famous quartette that sang brilliantly from classic
and semi-classic music and was in demand for concert appearances everywhere in Jamaica.
At the zenith of his career, he was the leading soloist of the Diocesan Festival Choir, the leading
choral group of Jamaica, whose annual recitals were the hlghwater mark of the musical year in Jamaica.
Nor were his talents confined only to singing. A master of music, he composed many songs and
paid tribute to his religious upbringing as a Roman Catholic by writing a Mass.
His was the music for the stirring political rallying song of the People’s National Party, “Jamaica,
Arise!”. The words for this song were written by William Seivright.
A tutor
Living a life of music, he was also a tutor, conducting a school for singing and the piano, on which
he was also an accomplished player.
Because of his love for his native land, he was reluctant to leave it for fame and fortune overseas.
When he did go, it was late in life, but he was still able to make his mark in England and in the
United States where he continued his singing career.
A naturally gifted tenor, with remarkable breath control and enunciation, he was considered to
have had the potential for attainment of world renown had he gone abroad earlier than he did.
His first essay abroad was a visit to Panama, somewhere around 1946, when he was accompanied
by the pianist Lois Kelly (now Mrs. Lloyd Barrow). He scored a signal triumph, particularly among
the Jamaican-Panamanian community there.
UK appearances

Then, in 1949, he migrated to England with his family. Although not then at the peak of  his
powers, he attracted attention in musical circles there, and made successful appearances in the Provinces, as well as on the B.B.C.
Ten years later, in 1959, he went across to the United States to join his family, who had gone there before him and had settled in Brooklyn. He continued his musical career, doing concert work, and
also serving as a member of a noted choir – that of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, in New York.
A highlight of his life came in 1962, when, at the time of Jamaica’s attainment of independence,
he was invited by the Government to come home as one of the special guests of the country to
take part in the Independence Celebrations.
After 13 years’ absence then from the land of his birth Granville Campbell came home in triumph.
He sang with the Jamaica Military Band at an independence concert, gave a broadcast recital over J.B.C. and appeared at private soirees.
Once again the golden voice that had thrilled thousands of his fellow Jamaicans in the early part
of the 20th Century was heard in the land – the lilting tenor that never failed to stir a Jamaican audience and move them to a storm of applause.
Deep joy
On his return to New York he wrote a letter to the Gleaner expressing his deep joy at having
been able to come home and to share in his country’s celebrations of nationhood.
“I sincerely hope and pray that God in His infinite mercy will so bless and guide the leaders of my country that in the years that lie ahead, Jamaica will emerge, in very truth, a free country, free
from all insularity of thought, free from all petty malice , and spite,” he wrote, as eloquently as
he ever sang.
Four years ago, it was reported that he had an unsuccessful eye operation which had left him
blind in one eye and had impaired the vision in the other.
Jamaican artists in New York performed at a benefit concert to raise funds for another eye
operation for him.
Mr. Campbell is mourned by his second wife, Mrs. Naomi Campbell, by thirteen surviving children
of his two marriages; and a sister. Miss Violet May Campbell, who lives in Bog Walk. St Catherine.
Children by his first wife (who died In 1924) are Harold, Horace, Enid (in Trinidad) and Ulric, the
ones still alive.
His second set of children, many of whom are In the United States, are Doreen, Algernon, Joan,
Noel, Yvonne, Barbara, Beverley, Sonia and David.
Mr. Gillie Campbell, retired Civil Servant, is a nephew. He used to sing with his famous uncle in
the early days and himself gained recognition as a singer of talent.
‘Deeply grieved’
Plans for Mr. Campbell’s burial were not known in Kingston up to last night. Word was being
awaited from New York as to the funeral arrangements.
Mr. N. W. Manley. President of the People’s National Party, sent the following cable yesterday to
the widow of Mr. Granville Campbell:
“I am deeply grieved at Granville’s death. I recollect present [?pleasant] association with him on
his musical composition of ‘Jamaica Arise’ and other masterpieces. Please accept our sincere condolence.”
A valued correspondent writes concerning Granville Campbell:
“He was a great singer of light and semi-classical songs. Especially popular was his rendition of
‘I walk beside you,’ the great wedding classic.
“He set to music several beautiful waltzes of the earlier 20th Century, the words of which were
written by Astley Clerk and balladiers of that period.
Great contribution
“He appeared in concert programmes throughout Jamaica in churches and elsewhere and was the forerunner of the classical concert as we know it today.
“He made a great contribution to Jamaica in preparing the public for appreciation of classical music.
“His presentation of these easily understood harmonious songs of minstrel texture was warmly appreciated and accustomed the Jamaican ear to the semi-classic and on to classical music.
“He used to appear often with the other great Jamaican singer, Sgt. Major Spooner, and both
enhanced the musical life of the period.”‘

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