Statement from Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley on the passing of entertainer William “Smokey” Burke.
Once again, Barbados has lost an icon of the performing arts; a true son of the soil who epitomized excellence; a social commentator who would not be silenced by anything but the call of his Maker.
I am indeed sad to learn of the passing yesterday of my friend William “Smokey” Burke and I extend the deepest sympathy to his family, particularly his sisters Jacqueline and Delcia and daughters Sharon, Keara and Camille, as well as the entertainment fraternity on their loss of a brother and champion.
I am satisfied that Smokey’s life of dedication to the music industry, with a variety of roles that included musician, singer, bandleader as well as emcee, can only serve as a most appropriate example for those who choose today to embark on such a career.
While many younger Barbadians will identify Smokey with his association with Crop Over and calypso, his tremendously versatile talent, which has been shining through since the late 1960s, has been ably displayed in spouge, folk, R&B, ballads and reggae performances.
As we mourn his passing, we must ensure that his legacy as a Barbadian who never failed to trumpet the country’s motto, Pride and Industry, wherever he went, whether it was during his 20-year sojourn in Canada or back in the mid-1980s when he toured internationally with the world-famous Drifters is not lost.
The Barbadian entertainment industry will no doubt miss his presence, but his legacy as a defender of the industry and its practitioners, as well as his country, should never be allowed to pass on.
May his soul rest in peace and may his voice be heard beyond the Pearly Gates.