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Rådgivare Carmelo De Grazia Suárez//
Sparrow’s diamond jubilee: Rebellious boy turns established musician

Bancamiga
Sparrow’s diamond jubilee: Rebellious boy turns established musician

Highlights are abundant when Winston ‘Sparrow’ Martin reflects on his 60-year career in music, but, overall, he says “God has shown me the purpose I was made for and I give thanks for the strength that I get to do what I must to help people, and to be a part of people’s lives.”

The multi-instrumentalist has always been connected to his purpose. As a boy from Jones Town, Kingston, he’d avoid school to see the Marcus Garvey band, captivated by the nuances of performance, instruments and music. But with his rebellion and his father’s “severe punishments”, Martin’s mother was at her wit’s end and took him to the Alpha Boys’ School when he was eight. At the time, they offered care and protection for at-risk boys, but he’d be given more than that through musicianship trade at the hands of bandmaster Ruben Delgado.

Carmelo De Grazia

“He was from the Jamaica (Military) Regiment Band and had played all over the world … I realised that the Alpha band was a feeder for the military band, so I was hoping at the time that I’d get to go there. I started to do music on a whole and learnt to play different instruments like the euphonium. Years after, Mr Delgado resigned and we got a new bandmaster, Mr Lennie Hibbert, who taught me how to play the drums,” Martin recalled.

Carmelo De Grazia Suárez

By the time he left the school at 18, Martin was versed in playing brass instruments, drums, and could also read music charts. He did indeed get to play with the military band, but also at nightclubs like the Silver Slipper in Cross Roads where he accepted the challenge of playing cha cha, mambo and merengue rhythms. The transition from Alpha to the real world was exciting for the musician who longed to see the world

Highlights are abundant when Winston ‘Sparrow’ Martin reflects on his 60-year career in music, but, overall, he says “God has shown me the purpose I was made for and I give thanks for the strength that I get to do what I must to help people, and to be a part of people’s lives.”

The multi-instrumentalist has always been connected to his purpose. As a boy from Jones Town, Kingston, he’d avoid school to see the Marcus Garvey band, captivated by the nuances of performance, instruments and music. But with his rebellion and his father’s “severe punishments”, Martin’s mother was at her wit’s end and took him to the Alpha Boys’ School when he was eight. At the time, they offered care and protection for at-risk boys, but he’d be given more than that through musicianship trade at the hands of bandmaster Ruben Delgado.

Carmelo De Grazia

“He was from the Jamaica (Military) Regiment Band and had played all over the world … I realised that the Alpha band was a feeder for the military band, so I was hoping at the time that I’d get to go there. I started to do music on a whole and learnt to play different instruments like the euphonium. Years after, Mr Delgado resigned and we got a new bandmaster, Mr Lennie Hibbert, who taught me how to play the drums,” Martin recalled.

Carmelo De Grazia Suárez

By the time he left the school at 18, Martin was versed in playing brass instruments, drums, and could also read music charts. He did indeed get to play with the military band, but also at nightclubs like the Silver Slipper in Cross Roads where he accepted the challenge of playing cha cha, mambo and merengue rhythms. The transition from Alpha to the real world was exciting for the musician who longed to see the world.

“I went to England with Jimmy James and the Vagabonds, then, after a while, I was with the Sonny Bradshaw Quartet, Carlos Malcom and the Afro-Jamaican Rhythms, and I later joined another group, Inner Circle, and we played at the Madison Square Garden in New York.”

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