As if the loss of “genius” guitarist Fitzroy Coleman at the end of July were not enough of a blow to Trinidad and Tobago's cultural landscape, the local artistic and musical fraternity is now also mourning the death of cultural champion Earl Crosby.
Best known for his internationally popular record store, Crosby's Music Centre, he would relentlessly promote local music and culture. The store was the indisputable centre of activity for calypso and soca music and events, particularly during the country's annual Carnival season. Crosby lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on August 3, 2016, passing away just over a week before his 66th birthday.
Passionate about local music and culture, Crosby co-founded the annual WeBeat festival in St. James, where his store was located. The area is known as “the city that never sleeps” and is a popular “liming” spot in Trinidad's capital city, packed with bars, festive events and entertainment, and countless “street food” vendors. Not only did “We Beat” involve the community in highlighting local talent and culture, it also gave a boost to the area's businesses.
While there was no doubt that Crosby was an astute businessman, he also nurtured a creative side as a successful songwriter, particularly in the parang and soca music genres. He was known for lobbying on behalf of musicians for a clamp down on piracy and was an advocate of instituting quotas for local content when it came to television broadcast and radio airplay.
Netizens expressed their sadness over Crosby's passing via social media. Journalist Laura Dowrich-Phillips wrote:
RIP Earl. […] He was such a gentle soul and a true lover of our culture.
Facebook user Alyson Myers-Capstick, who knew Crosby, called him “a true son of the soil”. In a telephone interview, she remembered him with admiration and fondness:
He was a great yet humble man, a real gentleman and a kind soul. He was always willing to do what he could to further the cause of local culture — and that included giving back to the community. For young people especially — I met him when I was 23 — he was a great mentor, always accessible and willing to talk. He really added value to my life.
We used to have to such fun with Earl at the Carnival launches that he would host. He was one of those people that you think would always be there — and then he's suddenly gone and this hole is created that can't be easily filled. He left some big shoes, but I think we should look to him as an example of how we should consider our country and our culture — and, of course, give something back in whatever way we can.
Cultural enthusiast Franka Philip summed it up this way:
RIP Earl Crosby. Our culture is richer thanks to your passion.
One Twitter user agreed:
RIP #EarlCrosby .A more generous soul you canno find in all of T&T.He has given T&T more than he received and he did it with a smile. Thanks
— Bae Z (@del_fred) August 3, 2016