Entertainment fraternity remembers Smokey Burke for 'amazing talent'
Cultural practitioners across the island are quietly reflecting about the significant impact William "Smokey" Burke had on the calypso artform during his twenty-plus years as a writer, performer and tutor.
Burke, who was 69-years-old, died after a prolonged battle with cancer on February 26. Since his passing, many calypsonians and musicians have shared moving tributes about the entertainer.
On his Facebook page, the Culture Minister John King wrote:
"I am saddened to learn of the passing of my dear friend, entertainer par excellence William “Smokey” Burke. His distinct voice heard in many bands across the island, a stint with the Drifters to emerging as a force to be reckoned with on the calypso stage, as a perennial competitor in the Pic-O-De Crop Competition.
He was an amazing talent, humorous, outspoken and passionate about the arts. I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. Smokey, we will miss you."
Musician John Roett and organiser of numerous philanthropic ventures to raise funds for members of the music fraternity who in the past were diagnosed with medical conditions or needed financial assistance said, "Rest in Peace, Smokey. No more struggle. Until our paths cross again, travel safely, bro. Travel safely...."
With more than half a century of friendship between the two, Adonija Alleyne said, "Farewell to my friend of more than 50 years. Walk good, Smokey. Tears."
Former Pic-o-de-Crop winner and music producer, Anderson "Blood" Armstrong told Loop Smokey was a master comedian and a great writer.
"One of my fondest memories is working with Smokey when he he recorded some songs with me. He always brought laughter to the sessions. He always had a joke. Smokey is one of the best writers I have known and he will definitely be missed by all in the music fraternity.
Terry 'Mexican' Arthur penned a heartwarming tribute on his Facebook page,
"Gimmuh [sic] one more joke Smokey... Pleaseeee ... just one more, mek [sic] we laugh as only you can. You had a joke on any subject..fast... quick wit...such a good songwriter, true to the Calypso artform, a lover of people, oh how we will miss you 'Smokes'.
But I am sooooooo happy we came to visit you at your home with so much love. You were overjoyed and overwhelmed to see the great Emile Straker in your living room with all of us. We sang, danced, played drums, even visitors from England and Delaware were in your living room with us bringing you love. You cried tears of joy saying you didn't know you were so loved. Yessss Smokey, you were loved, loved by people from all walks of life and I am so happyyyy that you got the chance to see and feel it in your own home and you know the Beach Cabinet love you. Bye bye my friend, make them laugh over on the 'other side. We just passing through..R.I.P...."