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The Story Behind
Barrington H. Brennen Performing
for "Music and Youth" on Jamaica Television in 1978
the Song "The Blind Ploughman."
Also included in the video are The Heralds and the High School Choir
Written by Barrington H. Brennen, September 14, 2022
 

Lyrics
"The Blind Ploughman"
 by Marguerite Radclyffe-Hall (1880 - 1943)
Robert Coningsby Clarke (1879 - 1934

Set my hands upon the plough, my feet upon the sod:
Turn my face towards the east, and praise be to God!
Ev'ry year the rains do fall, the seeds they stir and spring;
Ev'ry year the spreading trees shelter birds that sing.

From the shelter of your heart, brother drive out sin.
Let the little birds of faith come and nest therein
God has made His sun to shine on both you and me;
God, who took away my eyes, that my soul might see.

 

Barrington Brennen, 1975.
Click on photo to watch "The Blind Ploughman"

 

Quartet and Choir on Music and Youth 1978

See the entire program (44 minutes)

 

See the entire program (44 minutes)

 
 

I attended West Indies College, now Northern Caribbean University, Mandeville, Jamaica from 1973 to 1978.  I was 18 years old when I arrived on campus on September 1, 1973.

I earned the Bachelor's Degree in Theology and a minor in Natural Science.  Having already been a organist, pianist and base soloist in Nassau for ten years, I joyfully joined the Meistersingers Choir, became one of the organists and pianists for the College Church, and sang often in concerts on campus and around Jamaica . 
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I was the key pianist at every Spiritual Emphasis Week on campus, and sang and played the organ for every ministerial ordination in in various parts of Jamaica over the five years.   I was also known for playing the "Human Trumpet" or "Flesh Horn" (utilizing the lips and vocal cords to make the sound of a trumpet).

An exciting part of my experience in college was singing in the Jamaica Music Festival between 1973 and 1978 and earning five gold medals, five silver medals, and four bronze medals.  I was also awarded the Governor General’s Trophy for the Best Male Singer in Jamaica for two consecutive years.  It was a floating trophy and regrettably, I did not have a digital camera in those days.     Each year I entered at least eight categories of music during the festival:  Opera, Sacred, Traditional, Spirituals, Classical, Oratorio, etc.  I practiced for months learning those songs.  I have sweet memories of having Mrs. Olive Fletcher playing for me each time.  We would practice together for hours in the old music building opposite the Seat of the Scornful.

I won a scholarship for voice training with the great opera singer, Joyce Britton who was residing in Kingston at the time.  That was a great experience. I learned several techniques I still use today.  I could remember her warmth, friendliness, and her home today.  

In 1975, the video team from JBC Television came to campus to do a recording of me singing "The Blind Ploughman" for the television program "Music and Youth."  "The Blind Ploughman" was one of the songs for which I earned a gold medal in the music festival. 

I always wanted to find the video I did for JBC Television Jamaican in 1975.  Since then, the name has been changed to Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ). 

I discovered during this search by PBCJ Liberian, Paul Maxell, that there were other WIC/NCU
groups also on this video.  In the video above are the performances that took
place before and after I sang.  Featuring are Don Edwards, Herbie Fletcher,
Oswald Rugless, and David Rogers in a quartet; and the High School choir led my Don Edwards.
 As time progresses I will have the entire episode. 

In August 2022, 47 years later, I was finally successful in reaching the librarian for PBCJ, Paul Maxwell, who searched for the video.  I am grateful to him for finding this video.  The video was played a part of the Music and Youth program.  They had not digitized the older programs yet.  Hence, he searched and found it in u-matic format (analogue) digitized it, and sent it to me.  I paid $25 US/BD to obtain this video.   

The one hour video with myself and other singers was played on the television station from 1975 to 1988.  It was recorded in color long before the station started to broadcast in color.  Hence it was played in black and white until 1982 at which time the station started to broadcast in color.  Mr. Maxwell told me that it was recorded with advanced technology at the time. I was one of the artists from around Jamaica who were singing in the one-hour television program.

Barrington Brennen, 2022

The intro of the video shows a packed audience at West Indies College/Northern Caribbean University.  That was not the audience when I recorded this video.  That was a clip they took of another concert I did at WIC.  They inserted it here.  I could recognize several people in the video.   

Since the recording was done during regular class time, students came in between classes to watch the recording.  Some sat down and some just hang around.  The recording started at 9:00 a.m. and finished about mid afternoon—about six hours.  The producer worked me very hard.  I had to repeat and repeat the song until he was satisfied.  At one point the producer, who was not a musician, pulled me to the side and was criticizing how I pronounced a certain word.  It was a grueling six hours, but the outcome was special to me.   That is about 47 years ago.  I was 21 years old.  Wow!

As stated earlier, this video of me was played repeatedly on JCB Television for about 15 years.  In the 1980s many would see me in Nassau where I lived and would tell me that they just saw me on television singing this song before leaving Jamaica.   It is an experience I will not forget.

Thank God I still sing today.  I still can blow the “flesh horn” and I play the organ each week at the Centreville Seventh-day Adventist Church, Bahamas.  It is a gift I want to keep giving.

 

 

U-matic is an analogue recording videocassette.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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