Martin “Dougie” Douglas Remembered
by Garvin Blake
Martin "Dougie" Douglas with his godfather, Dr. Ellie Mannette
Martin Douglas as ‘Ironman’ with CrossFire Steel Orchestra on stage for New York Panorama
New York, USA - The steelband community was dealt two vicious blows in a week. First the passing of Hansel “Hanny” Leon, now Martin “Dougie” Douglas. Dougie “lived” Pan. And he had an ear for talent, especially upcoming talent. Dougie was a bridge between the old and new generation in New York. He gave a lot of young musicians an opportunity to grow and shine.
In December, I attended a Christmas concert at St. Paul’s Church in Brooklyn that Dougie produced, featuring mostly teens and young adults. All the bands played well, but Dougie’s group, CrossFire, stood out. After the show, Dougie was more jolly than Santa. He bounced down the aisle and asked, “Yuh hear mih children?” I responded, “Nah, dem kids too good to be yuh children.” He laughed and declared, "Next year will be bigger and better!" Life, unfortunately, can interrupt the best laid plans.
The last time I saw Dougie was at Phase 2’s panyard in Trinidad for carnival. I was leaving, he was arriving, and we happened to rub shoulders navigating the crowd. He said, “Hey Garvin, ah want yuh meet mih young arranger, Damany James.” I greeted Damany and asked, “He did the beautiful music for Crossfire for the Christmas concert?” Dougie smiled and nodded with paternal pride, then he and his protégé weaved their way through the congestion so they could absorb Boogsie’s arrangement of “2020 Vision.”
Left to right, foreground: Garvin Blake, Clement Franklin of Despers USA, and Martin “Dougie” Douglas
That was Dougie: forever promoting and nurturing youth, forever uniting young and old, always providing exposure and a platform for the next crop of Pan People.
Rest well, brother Dougie.
** Editor’s note:
** Martin Douglas died as a result of COVID-19.
* Click for more on Martin Douglas
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