News of the passing on July 9 of Suzanne Couch had a sobering effect on Jamaicans acquainted with the finger-licking foods she often prepared for friends and celebrities who visited the island. The sudden and sad news travelled far and wide resonating with grief.
Less than a week later Andrea Davis, founder of International Reggae Day and JAH — Jamaica Arts Holding — informed her friends that prayers were needed for her beloved Iyata, her mother and best-friend because she was in need of surgery.
Iyata, affectionately known as Mama Iyata is a vibrant, up-ful, positive, energetic, feisty, Rastafarian known by cultural Kingstonians, suburban dwellers and an international fan base spanning the Caribbean and the USA.
With prayers up and down the realm, her operation at the University of the West Indies resonated to this individual as routine.
Davis though, warned that the valve replacement surgical operation was “serious.”
Following the July 13 medical procedure, Davis informed us that that the next 48 hours would be “critical.”
The soldier that she is, she persevered, sending songs of hope and praise from the Bob Marley catalogue.
“One Drop,” “Coming In From The Cold,” “Natural Mystic,” “Rastaman Vibration,” Three little Birds,” “MIU still in progress, family in circle, JAH in control” she updated.
On July 14, “Not out of the woods yet” alerted many of us to sustain prayers.
Her choice song featured another Marley composition titled “Iron, Lion, Zion.”
Later that day, she sent another from the playlist — “Coming In From The Cold.”
Those lyrics were followed by “Mama Iyata has transitioned to Jah.”
Needless to say the news practically paralyzed many of her friends, particularly those on a prayer line from New York who did not even know Mama Iyata but are very familiar with her good deeds.
It was a dreary, overcast day in New York and the weather seemed to indicate that the angels were grieving.
My Saturday schedule included a trip to the Bronx.
There was a pall on the summer day.
On my return to Brooklyn, I checked messages and noticed Andrea had sent what I considered an update from Kingston.
“Just found our father dead in his house in Bahamas,” she wrote.
My reaction was of disbelief, profound sorrow and grief.
Davis’ dad died in the Bahamas.
How could she lose both her parents on the very same day in two different countries?”
Sunday, July 15, Davis sent Marley’s “Fly Away Home and “Lion of Judah.”
The following days she bombarded more Marley meditations — “I Know,” “Satisfy My Soul,” “No Woman No cry,” “Lively Up Yourself,” “Jah Live,” “Selassie Is The Chapel,” “Exodus,” “High Tide or Low Tide,” and added Peter Tosh’s “Rastafari Is,” and on the birthday anniversary of Marley’s Mother Cedella she sent a poem the departed matriarch read on her son’s 60th.
She never penned a word of grief.
She communicated through songs but by July 25 Andrea sent “Concrete Jungle.”
The date is Rita Marley’s birth date.
Davis used songs to soothe her soul.
She also savored more than a few.
“Top Rankin” was followed by “Chant Down Babylon,” and with those she sent directions to her mom’s celebration of life ceremony at St. Andrew’s Boone Hall Oasis on July 29.
“We look forward to welcoming all kings and queens,” she wrote. “wear your colors and dancing shoes.”
“Zion Train” was next with a biographical reflection on her mom, Patricia Rose Shaw who was born March 19, 1944 in Kingston, Jamaica.
Survived by three children — Andrea, Renee Davis Coverley and Therron Davis, Mama Iyata left four grandchildren, a sister, nieces, nephews and loads of friends in Jamaica, the USA and the Bahamas.
The program included tributes from singer Ernie Smith, Gramps Morgan of Morgans Heritage, poet Oku Onuora, reggae deejay Sister Carol, dub poet Mutabaruka and Nyne-I.
Throughout the program smiling photographs of the spiritual empress, in her garden, at the river — beach — many with celebrities — Marcia Griffith, O.J. Simpson, Queen Latifah, Woody Harrelson, Marley’s Mother Booker, singer Luciano, Angelique Kidjo, Toots Hibbert of Toots & The maytals,Taurus Riley, Rohan and Robert Marley, Dean Fraser, Bridget (sandals ace), children and grandchildren, bundled up in the snow — emanating the most beautiful aura.
On July 30 Davis took her friends along the procession that left Kingston to Nine Miles where Mama Iyata is at rest. There is where Bob Marley rests.
Again Davis added Marley music for a soundtrack to pathe the three-hour journey along the rugged roads of the island.
Vehicles were draped with the Ethiopian banner — the Lion of Judah surrounded by bands of red, gold and green.
First Third World Superstar Gone Too Soon
Shockwaves disturbed the eve of Emancipation Day with a post on Facebook that Irvin “Carrot” Jarrett had passed. The news jarred the senses of a music fraternity that despite his absence from the group since the 80s still was regarded as the musician from the group Third World that everyone focused on whenever the super-group performed.
Many considered Jarrett, the first Third World superstar. Indeed he was during every performance with acrobatic, dynamic, charismatic delivery as a percussionist.
He was a dancer, singer, songwriter and ably delivered reggae music to fans.
Nicknamed Carrot, he spent most of his youth in Harbour View, Kingston.
His ankle-length, dreadlocks, a lean carriage, handsome face and likeable personality gave him an advantage many yearned for appeal.
However, more than that he was philosophical, intelligent and talented individual.
Reports are that he was found by Third World founding / leader Cat Coore, reportedly slumped over after an early morning exercise routine.
Few wanted to believe that exit.
Carrot was an avid advocate of wholistic living.
Fact is he hosted a radio program with his wife Alicia where he advised listeners to eat and live healthy and was generally regarded a practitioner of naturopathic health..
After hearing of his death, Olivia Grange, minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport said “a cloud of sorrow has settled over the music fraternity and those in health care.”
She said she spoke with his wife, Alicia, who said she wanted everyone to know he “was at peace.”
Grange said that Jarett, regarded as one of the world’s foremost percussionists and performers, had charted courses in integrative health healing and wellness for the past two decades and his absence would leave a void difficult to fill.
“This is so because wrapped in “Carrot” was a percussionist, singer, drummer, dancer, performer, concert producer, inventor, songwriter, painter and teacher.
“Carrot” was just so talented, knowledgeable and helpful to scores of people. I was a faithful member of his radio audience on a Thursday night and would look forward to the advice that he and his dear Alicia shared with the public.
Grange recalled that he was one of the original members of Third World, assisting the band to establish itself and staying with it for 16 years until his departure in 1989.
“Carrot’s talent no doubt contributed to Third World becoming what has been described as more than just one of the top reggae bands of all time but an institution that held firm to the cultural and ancestral roots of its members while pushing forward the cutting edge of music worldwide.
“Irvin “Carrot” once said ‘I would like to be known as a positive potent power to those whose lives I’ve touched, while leaving a worthwhile legacy that will triumph over the rigors of space and time.”
“I express my deepest sympathy to Carrot’s family, his relatives, his friends, his associates, the music fraternity and the health care fraternity. May his soul find rest eternally,” she added.
I last saw my friend Carrot in Nassau when he attended the 70th birthday gala for reggae queen Rita Marley.
He looked happy, ebullient and joyous clinging to his wife of five years.
I will never forget the times we had when he lived in New York City and how after years of absence from Jamaica, on my return to the island, Carrot met me at Norman Manley International Airport, reacquainted me with the neighborhood we both grew up — Harbor View — introduced to a seafood vendor at National Heroes’ Circle, escorted me around Coney Park, the entertainment complex akin to Coney Island — and with his two daughters Sky and Rainbow showed me the Jamaica he lived, loved and died.
Carrot was my fellow Piscean brother. March 6 he celebrated his 69th
He will be funeralized Aug. 8.
RIP Carrot Jarrett.
The following day, Aug. 1, — Emancipation Day in Jamaica — Neville Lee, Byron’s brother departed.
That was not to be the end of a streak.
Less than a week later, another shocker announced the untimely passing of William “Bill” Howard, president of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association.
Reportedly he passed away in his sleep at age 75.
May they all rest in eternal peace.
Catch You On The Inside!