Barbados’ First Lady of Song, Carlyn Leacock, passed away earlier today.
Relatives confirmed this in a brief statement.
“The family of Carlyn Leacock would like to sadly announce her passing this afternoon. After a brief illness, she passed away peacefully at her home, surrounded by loved ones.
“The family would appreciate the opportunity to come to terms with the loss and will make an official statement in the coming days. The Leacock family ask that the public respect their privacy at this time.”
Leacock, 73, was the mother of Jan and Debbie Gibson, and part of the famous Leacock family, deeply rooted in the church and music.
She grew up in the Bayland, St Michael, with ten siblings and attended the First Baptist Church on Constitution Road. Carlyn inherited the musical talent from both parents.
Her father Cyril was a singer, tap dancer and choirmaster with the Chapman Lane Choir and mother Naomi was lead singer in the New Orleans choir. The two groups often had sing-offs during Service of Songs.
But it was not until her mid-20s that she made a foray into secular entertainment, her break-out performance at the 1974 Miss Independence Barbados Pageant at Kensington Oval.
Carlyn performed seven nights a week to support her daughters, and she brought them along, leaving them in the car with a pillow and a blanket.
“I would park close to the entrance, crack the windows and ask the security guard to keep an eye on them for me as I hurried in to perform,” she told the Nation in an interview several years ago.
At age 24, contracts soon came rolling in, and she performed at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, as well as Brooklyn, Boston, Trinidad, St Kitts and right here at home at the Hilton Hotel. She worked with Chocolate Affair, Charlie and the Cyclones and The Escorts, among others.
Some of her hits included Take A Chance on Me, If I Can’t Make You Mine, The Clock and Love And A Song. She also permed covers beautifully at many shows that wowed Barbadian and international audiences.
Carlyn and James Leacock performing at Wrap Yourself Around The Flag Independence Concert in 2014. (FILE)
In 1994, Carlyn teamed up with brother James, of gospel band Promise, to win the Barbados Song Festival with Musical Matrimony. The song, penned by The Most Honourable Stedson “Red Plastic Bag” Wiltshire, went all the way and the duo won the Caribbean Song Festival later that year.
Over the years, Leacock received many awards and accolades. In 2005, she was presented with a Cornerstone Award at the Barbados Music Awards for her contribution to music and entertainment.
She was also a Nation columnist and former wife of late Editor Emeritus, Harold Hoyte.
After retiring from the stage, Leacock helped several of Barbados’ upcoming entertainers with deep voice training. (SAT)