Jamaican songbird Karen Smith – Final words to her friends and who she really was
Five days before her death, Karen Smith sent a voice note to friends thanking them for remembering her birthday on September 6. “Good afternoon everyone. It’s Karen and I want to thank you very much for all your loving thoughts, your kindness, your prayers, oh my God. Thanks for everything. It’s a different way to spend a birthday. sure but God is good, God is king, God is faithful. I am in touch, and I believe he will heal. Much love to you and so nice to hear from you. The message ended with a kiss .
Such was the character and spirit of one of Jamaica’s finest songbirds. Karen Smith was a special quality, blessed with a voice that you never tire of. She was also a philanthropist and fighter for the cause of musicians.
Sadly, she lost her battle with colon cancer five days after her 61st birthday, September 11e. She left behind thousands of painful hearts but also precious memories.
Karen Smith was an extraordinary talent with a voice as sweet as the Jamaican Hummingbird. Whether she spoke or sang the words, the effervescent vibes she distributed was bound to cheer you up. Filled with compassion, generosity and a heart overflowing with selflessness, this singing wonder woman brought sweet melodies to our ears and happiness to our hearts. She was respected, admired and loved, not only because of her singing prowess, but also because of the affable vibe her presence exudes.
Daughter of the school principal, Karen is an alumnus of St Hugh’s High School and graduated with a business degree from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. She started her professional life in banking before following her passion and talent full time in 1986.
A creature of light and love
Jeffrey Cobham, former Managing Director of the National Commercial Bank was a manager at the St. James Street branch where Smith began his banking experience. He described Karen as “a creature of Light and Love”. In a conversation with the singer in the early days before she set out on her destiny, Cobham recalled her advice to the talented singer and young banker: “She told me about her choices. told her that I had no doubt that she would move into the banking profession because she was smart and learned quickly, but that these qualities would also serve her well in the entertainment world. The question, however, was whether she Twenty years from now, as she, like thousands of other bankers, would go through yet another set of bank lending statistics, sigh and wonder if she could have given the world something unique. ‘she made the right choice,’ he noted.
Quintessence of Grace and Leadership
Jamaica’s tourism industry has been a huge beneficiary of Karen’s incredible singing skills, as she performed as a cabaret singer in resort areas. Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said: “The entire tourism industry mourns the passing of Karen Smith, who brought a sparkle and wonderful professionalism to her performance.”
“I am really proud to have been a friend of Karen, she was certainly the epitome of grace, charm and creativity. His songs not only charmed so many of us, but also created a sense of comfort for so many in various circumstances. She will also be remembered for the excellent leadership she provided to the musical fraternity. I offer my sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues, ”he said.
Tourism Director Donovan White said Karen is synonymous with entertainment in tourism and is a must-see artist for many industry events. “You knew that once Karen booked, the performance would be smooth and engaging.”
For her contribution to the Jamaican music industry, she was awarded the Order of Distinction in Officer rank by the Jamaican government. She has also received nine Jamaican Music Industry Awards. She and her husband Jackie Jackson, a grassroots guitarist, were inducted into the Ocho Rios Jazz Festival Hall of Fame in 2001.
She flaunted her talent all over the world because she was in demand. Jamaican alumni associations in Jamaica and the Diaspora have benefited enormously from his skills. She has lent her voice to many charities and has collaborated with many prominent artists, both local and international during her incredible time on earth.
She opened for Natalie Cole, Smokey Robinson, Harry Belafonte, Seal, James Ingram, Ray Charles and Air Supply. And in 1990, when the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas opened, she was the first star actor. Karen recorded three albums. “Reflections of Love” was released in 2003 and had a mix of Reggae, Hip Hop and R&B. “I Still Love You” was released in 2012 and “Rush” entered the market in 2017. In her later years, Karen teamed up with Gem Myers and Patricia Edwards to form the PaKaGe group. They have performed widely in Jamaica and abroad.
Positive, Vibrant, Energetic
While Karen’s passing will leave a void in Jamaica’s entertainment industry, a huge hole will remain in the hearts of her dear friends. People close to her see more than her talent on display.
A close friend, Janet Silvera, president of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce, spoke of Karen’s positivity, influence and fighting spirit: “In the years that I have known Karen, I never Never heard her say anything negative about anyone. She was ready to stand up against injustices and fight for the rights of the musical fraternity. She was truly a very positive influence, who loved unconditionally and had a hard time saying no, especially if a performance she agreed to do on top of that helped those in need.
Silvera, who has benefited from either being in the audience or as an event promoter, loves the energy of the songbird. “There was an unprecedented drive, energy and talent that Karen was blessed with. When she entertained an audience, the whole place / hall became part of the act. Karen’s heart was as moving as the songs she sang. To me, she was an earthly angel with a purpose. She completed this goal and moved to another realm. Those of us who have known the real Karen Smith consider ourselves extremely lucky. I am richer to know her.
Ultimate professional, dedicated
Steve Higgins, a renowned Jamaican singer and friend, raved about Karen’s talent and character. “Karen Smith’s angelic voice gave us all a glimpse of her effervescent and refreshing spirit and beautiful soul. She embodied gentleness with unrestrained love and enthusiastic excitement in everything she did.
On stage, she sang with boundless energy, especially when we sang the duet “Endless Love”, placing a sweet smile on everyone’s heart and a lively rhythm in their being! Off the stage, she championed many causes, which she championed with great vigor and an appropriate dose of pure charm. Karen Smith has always been totally dedicated to her family and to her profession. She was the ultimate professional and a selfless human being. It was always a pleasure to sing with her, chat with her or just play silly with her. She met every opportunity with the right dose of reality, passion and love. It was an absolute pleasure to see her sing with Steve Higgins Productions and she will be sorely missed.
Sweet and friendly
Leighton McKnight, another close friend of Karen and her family, took it very hard. “She is famous for her superbly melodious voice which has made her one of the best cabaret singers ever produced in Jamaica. Beyond that, she was easily one of the sweetest, friendliest people I have ever met. She has never failed to radiate positivity in all of my encounters with her, a trait she has continuously demonstrated admirably even during her devastating illness.
I’ll never forget just a month ago when she called me to wish me a happy birthday, didn’t get me and left me a vocal note with a sweet happy birthday interpretation for me. I returned her call to say thank you and then she and her daughter Courtni put on an even better performance live on the phone, you can’t imagine how uplifting it was, I felt really special.
Opinions of Prime Ministers
Karen’s life has touched the lives of all socio-economic groups in Jamaican society. Prime Minister Andrew Holness said he was “deeply saddened by her passing. Affectionately known as ‘Jamaica’s songbird’, Karen Smith was highly regarded as one of the most talented cabaret performers from Jamaica. I enjoyed her wit and warmth, not to mention her immense talent. It was always a pleasure to interact with her; she really captured the essence of what it means to light a room.
Former Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson said Karen was “a star [and her] unique style fueled a meteoric rise to the zenith of his chosen field. The former prime minister was a frequent recipient of Karen’s singing skills. When a highway was named in honor of the former chief, it was Karen who sang the serenade to him. And in 2019, when he launched his book “My Political Journey” in Miramar, Florida, Karen was also there to provide entertainment.
Indelible imprint on the left
Jamaican Entertainment Minister Olivia Grange said Smith was “one of the queens of stage performance. Whether performing at national or international events or in small country churches, she was always engaging, entertaining and charming. The Minister added that “Karen has left an indelible mark on Jamaica’s cultural, artistic and entertainment landscape. She has actively contributed to the cause of the development of the industry. Karen’s legendary voice, endearing personality, constant warmth and advocacy will always be remembered. “
She continued, “I am deeply saddened by the news. A voice that resonated among culture and entertainment icons is now muffled and the silence echoes her amazing personality, grace and love for her people. offers my deepest condolences to her husband Jackie Jackson, daughter Courtni, mother Barbara and other relatives and friends Jamaica’s quintessential songbird now sings in New Jerusalem choirs.
Karen is survived by her mother, Barbara Smith, her husband Jackie and daughter Courtni. Her body may not be with us anymore, but her endearing spirit and unforgettable performances will live on forever. Goodbye songbird.