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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Boy Wonder Kelwyn Hutcheon - Christmas crooner
The rousing cheer from the large audience at this year’s annual Carols by Candlelight concert at the President’s Grounds, when he was announced as the next performer, is testimony to the popularity of venerable and youthful looking 78-year-old Christmas crooner Kelywn Hutcheon.
He had the audience, including President Anthony Carmona and his family, enthralled. His memorable performances at Carols by Candlelight span a period of more than 25 years.
He was presented with an award by former president George Maxwell Richards in 2006 for his outstanding contribution to Carols by Candlelight.
Small in stature, the father of three daughters, Hutcheon cuts a confident and dapper figure.
Hutcheon began singing professionally from as early as age 11, with a 15-minute sponsored radio programme on the only station back then, Radio Trinidad. The show was hosted by the late Sam Ghany, and the name of the programme was “The Boy Wonder of Trinidad—Kelwyn Hutcheon sings.”
The programme lasted for three years until the onset of puberty, when Hutcheon was forced to stop singing while his voice changed.
He resumed singing at age 17 and launched into the second and still ongoing phase of his vocal career, which has taken him to practically every venue in the country and indeed several outside of T&T.
In fact, Hutcheon has been singing for over 60 years.
Hutcheon has released many records/cassettes and cds over the past 35 years such as Christmas Classics, featuring his perennial seasonal favourites—Kiss me For Christmas; At Christmas Your Heart Goes Home; Happy Holiday; Oh How I Wish I Were a Child Again; and his own composition, Christmas in T&T.
But Beautiful, accompanied by the Felix Roach jazz ensemble, featured songs like The Very Thought of You, Mona Lisa, In The Name of Love, and including such gems as Waters of March; Love Letters and As Time Goes by.
Tell us about your early years in life, where you were born and grew up, and who ‘discovered’ you.
I was born at the family residence, 37 Charles Street, Port-of-Spain, popularly known as Cobo Town. I was discovered by Mrs Mahanna-Hadaway (Aunt Phin), owner of the then Renown Shirt Factory and by leading radio announcer Sam Ghany.
At what schools/institutions did you receive your education?
I attended Tranquillity Boys’ School and then Queen’s Royal College.
Other than your singing career, what else have you been engaged in?
Other than a singer, I was Caribbean regional manager for an international pharmaceutical company for the greater part of my working life.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life, and how did they?
The biggest influence in my life was my late, beloved mother whom I adored. She sang well, so most probably her genes were transferred to me.
If you had to choose a singer to perform for you, past or present, who would it be and why?
Oh easy…unquestionably it would be Frank Sinatra. I actually did attend three live performances of his in the USA—twice at Carnegie Hall in NY, and once at the Miami Arena in Florida. As a singer, and many, many other singers share this view, he is/was simply the greatest balladeer-crooner of all time, with perfect diction/timing/phrasing/charisma to burn and a tonal quality in his voice that was surreal.
Which are the three songs you enjoy performing the most—Christmas and non-Christmas?
Lady is a Tramp; Just The Way You Look Tonight; The Summer Wind, and Kiss Me For Christmas; At Christmas Your Heart Goes Home; Christmas in T&T.
Of all your shows, concerts, performances, which would you like a first-time audience, listener, viewer to experience?
For a first-time listener, I would have wished him/her to be at a series of concerts put on by Wayne Berkeley and Thora Dumbell in the 90s, honouring the great American songwriters Porter/Gershwin/Kern/Rogers and Hart, when I sang I’ve Got a Crush on You and My Funny Valentine.
Of all your accolades, prizes and awards, which do you rate as extremely special?
The award/recognition I treasure the most is the one I received from the committee for Carols by Candlelight and presented by President Maxwell Richards in 2006 for my outstanding contribution to Carols by Candlelight. By then, I had appeared 20 times.
What daily motto/credo do you live by and in three words, your recipe for success?
Practise truth, humility and honesty in everything you do, and do them all with love.
Describe yourself in two words, one beginning with ‘K,’ the other with ‘H,’ your initials.
Kind and honest.
How can readers contact you if they need to?
I can be reached at 624-3811 or 680-8217 and [email protected]
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