Longtime Placencia Resident Cleveland Berry Passes

Posted By: Marty

Longtime Placencia Resident Cleveland Berry Passes - 07/08/12 01:54 PM

Popular Belizean musician and beloved member of the Placencia community, Cleveland Berry succumbed to cancer today, July 6, at 1:20 p.m. at Belize Healthcare Partners Hospital in Belize City.

With plenty of family members at his side, he passed away while Dave Brubeck’s “Take 5” – one of his favorite jazz tunes – played in the background.

Cleveland Berry’s popular Creole calypso singles: “Hurricane Hattie”, “Krismus Bum”, and “Good Mawning Miss Lady” are national classics and often heard on the local radio station Love FM. “CK” as he was affectionately known by friends, played the flute and acoustic guitar. He occasionally played on the Placencia Peninsula with local band The Rejects and joined spontaneous jam sessions often coming unannounced.

Berry’s musical career peaked in the 1950s when he played solo and led vocals and played guitar along with The Skylarks at the Radisson Fort George Hotel and the Bellevue Hotel in Belize City. Berry and the Skylarks received praise while on tour in Mexico.

He also hosted his own jazz radio show on Radio Belize in the 1970s called the “Jazz Hour with Cleveland Berry”.

Berry was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 by the Association for Belizeans Artists First at the Bliss Center for Performing Arts.

Cleveland Berry also established The Galley Restaurant & Bar (located behind the football field) in Placencia Village in the early 1980,s along with his wife Julia Pate-Berry. His seaweed punch (seaweed milkshake spiked with brandy) was very popular in Placencia.

Berry was also a highly-skilled horse shoes and ring toss player in Placencia Village.

He is survived by his sister Farida Berry-Vernon of Canada, brother Ronald Berry, sons William “RB” Berry, Cleveland Berry and Andre Berry of the USA and daughters Belinda Berry of the USA, Dawn Berry-Pollard of Placencia Village and Julie Berry of Santa Catalina, Panama and many grand children, great grand children and cousins. He also worked closely with his kitchen staff Leeda Chirinos and Andrea Chirinos. He is pre-deceased by his wife Julia Pate-Berry and eldest daughter Marla Berry-Holder.

(On a personal note, Mr. Berry was my grandfather and on behalf of the entire Berry family, a heartfelt thank you to everyone who offered their well wishes and condolences during this difficult time. Funeral arrangements are yet to be announced.)

Posted By: Marty

Re: Longtime Placencia Resident Cleveland Berry Passes - 07/11/12 01:54 PM

The life of jazz musician, Cleveland Berry, 77, celebrated in Placencia

Cleveland Berry, 77, one of Belize’s most endeared jazz musicians, known for the hit songs “Hurricane Hattie” and “Good Mawnin, Miss Lady”, lost his battle with cancer on Friday afternoon, July 6, when he passed away at the Belize Healthcare Partners in Belize City.

Relatives said that Dave Brubeck’s “Take 5,” one of Berry’s favorite jazz tunes, played in the background as his soul went to sleep.

Berry is a longtime Placencia resident and proprietor of Galley’s Restaurant in that village, a venture he and his late wife began more than three decades ago.

He was cremated and a service was held at the St. John’s Memorial (Anglican) Church in Placencia today, Monday.

Speaking with Amandala this evening, Julie Berry, one of his six surviving children, reflected on today’s service, saying that it was truly a celebration of his life. The eulogy was delivered by her brother, Cleveland, Jr., and there were Scripture readings by four of Mr. Berry’s grandchildren.

No wake was held because he didn’t want a wake, Berry’s daughter said.

Following the religious service today, relatives and friends gathered at the restaurant, and the family was, late this evening, trying to decide what to do with Berry’s ashes, since he had not specified.

Julie said that today has been filled with truly special moments, such as the reflections of a 95-year-old couple who got married in Placencia, and who are among her father’s fans.

She noted that her father, who began to explore his talent in his teenage years, was blessed with a special talent — able to play a song after hearing it just once, even though he knew nothing about reading notes.

His favorite instrument, said Julie, was the acoustic guitar, which can still be seen hanging at his restaurant. He also played the harmonica, the flute and the keyboard.

Local Placencia bands, such as Ugly Ducklings, used to leave a plug for him to drop in his jazz intonations, his daughter recalls.

His family recounts that Berry’s career reached its peak in the 1950s, but he is also known for a 1970s show Jazz Hour with Cleveland Berry on Radio Belize.

The Association for Belizean Artists First honored Berry in 2005 with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Four of Berry’s children, who live abroad, were in Belize at the time they found out he was ill and needed emergency surgery.

Cleveland Berry is survived by his children: Belinda Berry, Cleveland Berry, Jr., Dawn Pollard, William Berry, Julie Berry and Andre Berry. He is predeceased by his wife, Juliana Berry (nee Pate), and his eldest daughter, Dr. Marla Berry-Holder.

He also leaves behind a sister, Farida Berry-Vernon of Canada; and brother, Ronald Berry.


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