Sometimes we experience something that is so special it seems divine, preordained. I had just such an experience in Jamaica back in 1998. The place was the Breezes (Jamaica Jamaica) resort in Runaway Bay, St. Anne, Jamaica. This was back when the place still seemed special and off the beaten path, before they built the highway that cut the drive from Montego Bay from 2-1/2 hours down to less than 1. I was there with my mother and her three siblings, who were the guests of honor, and several family members. Breezes had a nightclub upstairs at the time, and every Thursday they would put on something called Staff and Guest Night. Being the ham that I am, I just had to sing with the outstanding band there, Wrights Incorporated, led by my (now) friends Robert Anderson and Dayal Cadien. I wasn’t the only family member to perform, though. A few acts before I sang, my Uncle Emerald did his Redd Fox – style comedy routine, and he had ’em falling on the floor with laughter. I mean, he could have taken that act to Vegas. When it was my turn to perform, I was quite nervous. The nightclub was packed with people, and the atmosphere was electric. Two beautiful young Jamaican girls had just performed a powerful, sexy dance hall routine, and you could feel their energy spraying over the audience. It felt as if we were in a happening place at the edge of the earth, the way folks must have felt at Rick’s in Casablanca. I didn’t know if the band would play my song correctly, because we had only practiced part of it that afternoon, and only for a few minutes. The place was loud, with everyone drinking and carousing and styling and partying. Then the entertainment director, Carlton, introduced me. After he did, and the band started playing, my nervous energy morphed into confidence, and I sang the song. I still think it is my single best performance to date — and it brought the house down. The special thing I’ll always remember is that at the end of the song, I pointed to my comedian uncle and said, “That’s my uncle right there you know.” He shouted back, proudly, “That’s my nephew!” I find myself thinking about that night a lot lately. My mother’s siblings are all gone now — Uncle Emerald, Uncle Bill, Aunt Mary — and my mom is hanging on and fighting with everything she has. Now the performance has taken on even more significance, because I can play the recording and remember when we were all together, enjoying and loving life, enjoying and loving each other. I’m going to share the recording with you, with apologies and appreciation to James Ingram who first performed it.
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