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Saint Lucia Mourns Death of Cultural Icon

Composer Extraordinaire, Poet, Diplomat, A Man Like No Other, Hon. Charles Cadet Dead at 96.

The Government of Saint Lucia and the Cultural Development Foundation (CDF) received the unenviable news of the passing of an illustrious son of the soil, a Cultural Icon, a friend of the CDF and a dedicated civil servant, Hon. Charles Cadet who passed away on Sunday January 17, 2021 at the age of 96. He was born December 16, 1924.

Image of Charles Cadet
Charles Cadet

Hon. Cadet was born into a family with an intense love of music and was well endowed with the musical talent to express that love. His father played the cornets, his uncle the violin, and his aunts, gifted with excellent singing voices, sang solos in church choirs and in concerts of the day. This family passion for music was demonstrated in a letter from his grandfather to his son Gerald (Cadet’s father) informing him of the loss of his newly built house in the 1927 fire which destroyed a large portion of old Castries, but saying that he took comfort from his being able to save their Baldwin Grand piano.

Hon. Cadet is a well know Saint Lucian musical composer.  He served the government and people of Saint Lucia in a distinguished career of approximately 40 years and served in several capacities including Permanent Secretary, Counselor for Trade, for The OECS sub–region from (1976-1986), Acting High Commissioner to London (1986-1987).  He was awarded Commander of the Order of the British Empire (1987) and Saint Lucia Cross (2005) in recognition of his distinguished and outstanding services.  He was the first recipient of the M&C Fine Arts Lifetime Achievement Award.

Despite Charles’ distinguished career in the public service, he never negated on pursuing his passion for music.  His first attempt at composing was at Mc Donald College, Mc. Gill for an undergraduate revue.  Cadet’s partnership with Roddy Walcott brought Saint Lucia and the world the music of Banjo man, and the musicals The Legend of Tom Fool, Chanson Marianne, The Guitar Man Song and the Wonderful World of Brother Rabbit.  Hon Cadet also composed the Music for Mac Donald Dixon’s Tinday.

Charles was well known for his compositions such as “Chanson Marianne” performed by a choir of 100 school children at the Albert Hall in Kensington, London. “Poinsettia Blossom” a Christmas classic originally sung by Lenni Stone and in recent times by Shayne Ross.  “A Dream of Freedom” in honour of Jamaica’s 25th Anniversary Independence, composed by Cadet and Richard Beckford to words by Norman Rae was performed at the London premiere of the cantata.

In 2015, The Cultural Development Foundation in collaboration with the Saint Lucia School of Music and The Saint Lucia Tourist Board hosted a concert to celebrate the musical legacy of the legendary and iconic Saint Lucian maestro Hon. Charles Cadet as the first Cultural Icon to be honoured at the inaugural Cultural Icon Series.

The Cultural Icon Series is an inspirational project designed to tell the story of the many Saint Lucians whose contributions to the Saint Lucian Cultural Story, forms an impactful and impressive legacy for future generations.  The Icon Series recognized that Charles Cadet made an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of Saint Lucia and his legacy will undoubtedly span generations.  It was befitting to ensure his contribution was recognized at a musical concert chronicling his musical journey.  The concert featured music from his well-loved musicals and the premiere of his latest composition “Le Fin Journée” a folk requiem arranged and orchestrated by Gregory Piper.  The audience were enchanted as they experienced his work including Latin, Folk, Contemporary, Sacred and Jazz genres performed by some of Saint Lucia’ s leading artistes including Ronald Boo Hinkson, Marie-Eve Augier, Saint Lucia School of Music Chamber Ensemble, Deredee Williams, Lenny Stone, Elra Ermay, Shayne Ross, Special Blend, Ready, Jessy Billy, The quartet Alibi.

Charles was a stickler for professionalism especially in relation to the renditions of his compositions.  He had to be satisfied that his work was controlled as Charles would have done it and settled for nothing less.  The performers of his compositions knew this all too well and were accepting and appreciative of his musical guidance and direction.

In his late nineties when the likelihood of the mental faculties of the average person would have failed, Charles was sharp, had clarity of thought and very capable of composing his thoughts on to paper. Being the creative mind that he was, could not sit idle or still and so he delved into poetry writing, with his latest published book of poems “At the Rusting Gate” which gave insight into his life experiences.  As Mc Donald Dixon puts it “The old master has not lost his skill as he weaves a lattice across the landscape standing at his rusted gate looking at the world through lenses that see the past, present and hint at the future.

The Government of Saint Lucia and the CDF will forever cherish and remember Charles Cadet, as he was a friend and well-wisher who had the best interest of Saint Lucia’s Culture and its development at heart. Fly and compose music with the angels our dearest Charles, your legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of your many friends, artistes near and far and the arts and culture fraternity.  Farewell dear friend.  Rest in Musical power.

The Government of Saint Lucia, CDF and the Department of Culture and Creative Industries extend sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Charles Cadet.

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