Friday, June 8, 2007

Sonny Bradshaw: `The Dean`

At 81 years old, Cecil `Sonny` Bradshaw is truly a Jamaican treasure, `The Dean`. Born in Kingston `Under The Clock`, (the term used to described those born in downtown,Kingston), Sonny was exposed to the piano before age 10 and although he could master it, his pet instrument eventually became the trumpet.
After attending Central Branch All Age School he went on to Kingston Technical High School.
His fascination with radio led him and a few of his friends into experimenting with radio communication. Their effort resulted in the group successfully being able to establish radio contact with radio stations in North America and Europe and indeed the whole world. His love for music saw the young Sonny trekking across the city to attend musical events spearheaded by great musicians such as Milton McPherson, Redver Cooke and Eric Deans until he started playing in an organized manner. In 1950 he formed the `Sonny Bradshaw 7`, and became a major force in live music. In 1959 Sonny joined the staff of the newly formed Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation( JBC) and became a founding member of the JBC Orchestra, along with the likes of Carlos Malcolm. Out of the JBC experience was born the famous popular afternoon radio programme `Teenage Dance Party`, founded by Sonny in 1959. He stayed with the programme until 1964 when the infamous JBC strike resulted in Sonny and other colleagues being made redundant.
His next move took him to Jamaica Welfare Services, where he spent quite a number of years making invaluable contribution towards social and cultural development. Sonny championed the cause for musician's welfare through the formation of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians, serving as president for 14 years. The Jamaica `Big Band` and the annual `Ocho Rios Jazz` series were the brainchild of Sonny. Presently, the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival is in its 17 years and is the `Real Macaw` in terms of authentic Jazz, Sonny's first love. Perhaps, the greatest asset of Sonny lies within his head and the longer it takes the powers-that-be to recognize and harness his great knowledge for the documentation and preservation of Jamaica's cultural heritage, it is the worst off the nation will be, culturally. Fortunately, Sonny's contribution was recognized when the Order of Distinction (OD)was bestowed on him by the government.
Coming soon is the DVD feature. `The Dean` The Sonny Bradshaw Story Part.1
Vintage Boss.

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