Brooklyn, New York, USA - The rays of sunshine warmed the sunny Sunday afternoon for the celebration of the life of Despers USA Steel Orchestra panist and vice captain Aliandre Maraj - just as he himself had warmed the hearts of all those he touched in his thirty years of life. At the Seven Days Adventist Church on East 21st Street in East Flatbush, people of all ages, from the young to the not-so-young gathered to bid him goodbye. In addition to his conventional family and friends, there was a considerable turnout in his steelband family among the New York pan fraternity in attendance.
Not a situation that anyone would have dreamt possible, just one month prior. In fact, on this day, August 21st, Aliandre himself was supposed to be performing in Central Park as part of the Harlem Meer Performance Festival and a member of the stage side of Despers USA. Instead, some of his band mates and fellow pan players were saying a musical goodbye at his homegoing service at that exact time. For Aliandre passed on August 3, a little over two weeks after a sudden stroke, never having regained consciousness.
Fellow panists Odie Franklin, Kendall K. Williams and Marc Brooks on pan in musical tribute to Aliandre Maraj
One of the musical tributes was delivered by friends and fellow brothers in the steelpan art form Odie Franklin, Kendall K. Williams and Marc Brooks with Khuent Rose on piano, via a stirring rendition of Amazing Grace. The trio was also joined on interlude by additional fellow panists for a fitting ambiance during viewing.
Ray Holman (upper right) on video with tribute to Aliandre Maraj
Steelband legend Ray Holman paid homage to Aliandre via video. As a family friend of about fifty years, Ray spoke of how happy he was to have known him via his grandmother “Mummy Jean” since age five, and of his time working with Aliandre in Skiffle Steel Orchestra for Panorama in Trinidad.
Aliandre Maraj with CrossFire Steel Orchestra
Sparkle Demming in remembrance of Aliandre Maraj
Unison Steel’s Sparkle Demming, a long-time friend of Aliandre touched on the ‘reality’ of his passing, which for many has yet to sink in. She noted that they had played together as far back as days in CrossFire Steel Orchestra. They were both later key members of New York Pan Stars, and part of Brooklyn Steel Orchestra.
Aliandre Maraj, left, with New York Pan Stars; Sparkle Demming is fourth from left.
An eleven-year-old Aliandre Maraj with CrossFire Steel Orchestra
Everyone reiterated Aliandre’s gentleness, caring demeanor, respect and love, always being there for others - and more. His own passion for the arts was front and center as a talented musician with love for the steelpan instrument, and as an entrepreneur and creative, with his own line of clothing “Mango Chow.” His obituary was delivered by Khuent Rose, but not before the latter shared briefly on the inspiration and strength he had routinely found in Aliandre as his room mate of three years. And here, Khuent himself was clad in a signature Mango Chow shirt by Aliandre.
Khuent Rose shares on Aliandre Maraj
Khuent Rose shares on Aliandre Maraj, delivers obituary
Musical tribute at the end of Aliandre C. Maraj’s celebration of life
An ace panist; a life lived in passion, joy and with love. And with regard specifically to the steelpan instrument, Aliandre’s shirt, below, has the final word.
Aliandre C. Maraj with Despers USA
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