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Goodwill Ambassadors in the Limelight

Eleven exceptional ‘stars’ to promote the destination

By: Reginald Andrew

An impressive cadre of Saint Lucian ‘stars’ were recipients of the inaugural Goodwill Ambassadors status.

Grammy award winner Gordon “Commissioner Gordon” Williams was amongst the Saint Lucian ‘stars’ honoured at the inaugural Goodwill Ambassadors – Investiture Ceremony, held last week.

The list of awardees spanned the depth of musical ingenuity, corporate affairs and academia, sports and culture; and also featured guitarist Ronald “Boo” Hinkson, reggae artiste and philanthropist Taj Weekes, as well as the region’s ‘High-Jump Queen’ Levern Spencer.

It was truly an auspicious occasion, as the Goodwill Ambassadors with their recently acquired ‘Excellences’ title received their Gold Medal Award from Governor General Sir Neville Cenac. The colourful event held at Government House, last Thursday, saw a cheerful gathering of the ambassadors and family representatives in attendance.

The following recipients associated to the Goodwill Ambassadors Programme, are as follows:

Ronald “Boo” Hinkson – Music; Gordon “Commissioner” Williams – Music; Taj Weekes - Reggae Music and Philanthropy; Jermain Colin Defoe – Sports (English Premiere League Football); Levern Donaline Spencer – Sports (High Jump); Daren Julius Garvey Sammy – Sports (Cricket); Sir Leslie Ferdinand – Sports (English Premiere League Football); Jallim Eudovic – Visual Arts (Sculpting); Joseph Marcell – Performing Arts (Acting); Dr. David Williams – Academia; and Ken Chitolie – Philanthropy.

Culture Minister Senator Fortuna Belrose used the occasion to express commendation for the progress made by the island’s illustrious personnel in various professional career endeavours.

“The most valuable resource of any country are its people …and the mandate of the ministry for culture and creative industries is to create an enabling environment where citizens can relight their passion and contribute meaningfully towards the development of their country – Saint Lucia,” declared Belrose, emphatically.

The minster added: “Saint Lucia, our country is blessed with wealth of talent and a wealth of people. However, a large measure of that talent remains mostly untapped.

“As a government, we believe that it is our obligation to connect and assist our people in finding the pathway that will enable them to realise their potential and thus contribute to the betterment of our society.”

Belrose commented that due to the high level of unemployment, particularly amongst young people, “we as a nation need to create more avenues, particularly in the non-traditional areas to allow our citizens to explore themselves and find their passion to enable them to contribute to nation building in a positive way.”

Star-studded line-up: Goodwill Ambassadors (l-r) Ronald ‘Boo’ Hinkson, Levern Spencer, Taj Weekes, Gordon Williams and Jallim Eudovic…

She added that this initiative, the establishment of the Goodwill and Brand Ambassadors programme “is a further attempt to create even more pathways and connect our people to success.”

Belrose said the authorities remain optimistic that this network will help create “the support requirements for young people who are looking to contribute to nation building in a different way.”

Meanwhile, each Goodwill Ambassador will initially serve for a three-year period, but can be nominated for additional terms. Their role, inter alia, is to leverage their profile to access opportunities for the growth and development of aspiring Saint Lucians in various fields of endeavour. 

Speaking to the MIRROR, “Commissioner Gordon” Williams, multiple Grammy Awards and numerous Gold and Platinum albums winner recalled his early teen years visiting the island on summer holidays and the influence from reggae music, Bob Marley’s ‘Rastaman Vibrations’ album that his good friend Dr. Jimmy Fletcher introduced to him.

“That’s the album that really made me want to do music,” he said, with his friend being made aware of that years later. Williams, who grew up in the Bronx, New York recalls that his initial involvement in music was as a Dee Jay dabbling in Rap Music performed on the streets before exploring other musical genres.

While “Commissioner Gordon” has collaborated with many ‘big stars’ in the musical arena, he says, the association with Quincy Jones “has been probably the biggest mentor in music that I ever had and opened up mind in terms of dreaming about music and music business.”

He adds that, “Maybe, Lauryn Hill and the ‘Mis-education’ was my first-time winning album of the year, winning a Grammy, so that was a big one. But there were lots …like Amy Winehouse, Carlos Santana and there were lots of other special experiments.”

Williams professional status is that of a music engineer and production extraordinaire, who dabbles with a bit of keyboards.

As an acclaimed record producer, what does Williams envisage in terms of broadening the scope for local musicians/ artists to up their game? He replied: “It’s really about education, some of the opportunities that I had that allowed me to meet people that taught me…so now that I’ve gone on and done all these things, I have the opportunity to come back to St. Lucia and give that back to local musicians and artists.”

Williams added: “As well as artists throughout the OECS, because I think it’s about the whole region. But the base would be here in St. Lucia.”

Meanwhile, speaking to the media, two of the island’s other outstanding artistes gave their take on the significance of the Goodwill Ambassadors title- award.

Boo Hinkson is focused on developmental prospects in the music field for the youth. Hinkson, described as “one of the most heralded jazz guitarists” from the region hopes to use this latest accomplishment to inspire musicians to do better than what he has done in his career.

He adds that: “It’s very gratifying that my country has chosen to recognize me in this manner. But most importantly, I hope this will inspire the young musicians. That’s the biggest thing I want to happen coming out of this.

“Saint Lucia has a wealth of young, great talent and I am passionate about seeing them succeed. I will use this newly acquired stature to advocate for them, and see if I can help them succeed.”

Taj Weekes, phenomenal reggae artist, social activist and UNICEF humanitarian representative declared: “It’s one of the important nights because usually we tend to do things not for praise or for recognition. I feel really privileged to be in that group of people. They are people who have accomplished a lot and for me to be considered in that group, I feel highly appreciated.”

The region’s ace high-jumper and Olympian, Levern Spencer, is thrilled with this latest gesture from the authorities. “It’s something that does not happen everyday. I look forward to continuing to put Saint Lucia on the map, and doing the best I can to keep our flag flying locally, regionally and internationally,” she asserted.

The island’s young effervescent sculptor and global award- winner, Jallim Eudovic says he is honoured and humbled and feels committed to represent the country and assist with development aspects in the artistic community. He noted: “It’s something that I will take very seriously and it’s something that I have already been doing …it’s simply a validation. Everywhere I travel around the world, I always look for opportunities for my country and I always work with the youth. I’m a mentor to many of the creative youth and I will always try to help them get to the next level.”

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