What a day!
This is a group of very old singing friends who I have known since the early 90s, some better than others but I know them all, we came together as a choir to sing at our friend Angie Brown‘s mothers funeral in Brixton this morning.
Almatine Brown Passed away quickly and painlessly after a stroke at the age of 98 having lived an incredible full and happy healthy life.
They must’ve been 500 people at the funeral, they had a band and are singing and other family members singing hymns and spiritual songs.
The service was led by a bishop who introduced a lady Pastor, as the coughing was carried in to be placed on a stand at the front of the congregation we sang the Aretha Franklin version of bridge over troubled water with Merle Forbes sining the lead vocal, in the middle of the ceremony we sang an eight minute Jamaican medley of spiritual songs which was very uplifting and led by Angie’s cousin Maureen on lead vocals.
Alma wrote her own eulogy and it was read by three of her adult grandchildren, What a life she had, Windrush generation, what a story, she was the oldest of eight and when her youngest sibling was three both her parents passed away, she struggled to keep the family together and always did and worked very very hard at any job she could find in order to do so including working in a cigar factory and childminding, she became a nurse at the age of 35 although the cut-off age was meant to be 30 she was so insistent that that is what she wanted to do that they allowed her to become a nurse which she did for the rest of her working life latterly an auxiliary visiting the elderly in their homes, She married and had two children, she also fostered children and took in her niece and nephew when their parents died, she put on coach trips around the country and music events on boats on the Thames, giving a lot of reggae artist their first opportunities to perform, she always had a big party for her birthday every year and recently I saw a video of her up and dancing along with everybody else at her 98th celebration, what a legacy she has left!
There was then a viewing, we sang Puff Daddy I’ll be missing you with our friend Roy picture on the right performing the rap As most of the congregation filed past to view Alma, I also viewed the body, my brother says I saw my grandmother but I don’t remember it at all, so as far as I’m concerned this was the first dead person I have seen, not at all scary just a beautiful old lady looking very peaceful but it did bring up a lot of feelings for me, by the time my mother died she was in such poor health and so underweight that I just really didn’t think viewing was an option, it’s not really in our culture and I don’t know whether I would’ve done it anyway but honestly I think it was actually really lovely that there was an opportunity to view Alma.
The service lasted for almost 2 hours, lots of tears and lots of laughter and lots of singing and lots of celebration and love.
My wonderful friend Rachael accompanied me and drove us there, there is a train strike at the moment and it would’ve been very difficult, I had to be there at 10:30 to connect with the band and the singers and rehearse.
Afterwards there waskenham Cemetery followed by a party in Croydon but unfortunately I was not able to go because I had a gig in the West End and needed to get there at 6 o’clock and there just wasn’t time so we drove back to Richmond
Afterwards there was an interment Beckenham cemetery followed by a party in Croydon but unfortunately I was not able to go because I had a gig in the West End and needed to get there at 6 o’clock and I just wasn’t time so we drove back to Richmond and had an hour and a half in which to relax, have something to eat and put on my make up.
Then we got an Uber into town with Kevin and Jilly the milliner who is over from Australia for ascot, they all went off for dinner and I met Nicola and we went to pizza express which was lovely.
Stewie and Lee, my brother Tom and Daniele Davoli from Black Box all turned up and lots of passing trade from Israel, Sweden, Belgium, Texas et cetera, it was a really fun night with a lot of laughter and celebration.
I went back to Richmond for a nightcap before catching an Uber back home, got to bed about 3 o’clock.