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Tribute to Matthew McAnuff (1986-2012)

Tribute to Matthew McAnuff (1986-2012)

Tribute to Matthew McAnuff (1986-2012)

By on - Photos by Marc Ismail - 4 comments

"All his mind was focused on his music, and he seemed serious and smiling at the same time"

I met Matthew for the first time in october 2009. I had known his father Winston McAnuff for a few years, but had never met his son. Of course, I had heard of him, because he just had a big hit in Europe on the French label Makasound/Inna De Yard, Be Careful. But to be honest, although I really liked the tune, I couldn’t understand why people would go so crazy over it. I would get it by meeting Matthew.

Matthew McAnuff

I was hanging around in Rockfort, with the Uprising Roots band members, led by Matthew's older brother Kush. In the yard, behind the house, I bumped into a young man with a red, gold and green scarf tied in his hair, cutting herb with a big knife. He was 23 then, but looked 18. I asked to be sure "Are you Matthew ?". He smiled meekly, and just said "Yes". We sat down together, and talked together for an hour. I was immediately struck by a special vibe about him. Not really something I would call a charisma, but a way of being, a special attitude. He was listening very carefully to every advice, every idea or suggestion somebody could make. All his mind was focused on his music, and he seemed serious and smiling at the same time.

Then Prince Alla, who was there with me, came to sit with us. As an elder, he took his hand, and starded sharing some of the knowledge life and over 40 years in the music had taught him. Matthew almost looked like a child at this moment. He seemed so absorbed by what Prince was telling him. It was a wonderful scene to watch, because I was witnessing the transmission of the knowledge, the know-how of this wonderful music from one generation to the next. 

A little later, while I was looking at Matthew, sitting on his own or singing with the other band members, I kept telling myself : "I don't know how Hugh Mundell was, but I imagine him to be just like that young man". When I told him about that idea, Matthew smiled. He said "Hugh Mundell was a great friend of my father, although I never knew him". He then added he was about to cover Mundell's sublime Book of Life for his coming first album.

Matthew McAnuff

When I got home that night, I wrote a piece in French for my blog, which I called "A little bit of Hugh in Matthew ?" And of course, my conclusion was that yes, there might well have been something of the juvenile genius in that gifted young man, who could improvise lyrics simpling passing by a group of us playing the guitar.

Today, after hearing the awful news, I read these words I wrote three years ago, and they sound so sad. Because now, Matthew McAnuff and Hugh Mundell's tragic fates look alike more than ever. In the endless list of Jamaican artists killed in their homeland, their murders are particularly revolting, because they were only at the start of their life and career.

But let us all remember them for the beautiful music they left us, and not how brutally and way too early their lives ended. I personnally will always keep the image of this first meeting, and the very special smile he had on his face.

May Matthew rest in peace, and may his father Winston, his brothers Ishmel and Kush, and all the members of his family and friends find the strength to overcome the pain.

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Read comments (4)


Posted by famfe on 08.23.2012
BLESSED LOVE. LOVE FOREVER MATTHEW

Posted by Romaine Davy on 08.30.2012
I am Romaine Davy from Sedburgh district, and to tell you all out there Matthew was a very humble person I knew him and his brother Ishmel from primary school, Christiana leased primary school, both brothers were always in music from a tender age. It's really sad what happened, he was always in my community all the time. He actually lived there for some time as well he gave no trouble, he get along well with all the persons living there. He was always singing at the square, he was a the type a person that all could reason with. We played football but music was and is always his comfort. Matthew and his family have always got the higest level of respect in both spring ground and Sedburgh. He will be missed. RIP.

Posted by special on 08.31.2012
ONE LOVE. TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.

Posted by Ras Bio on 10.29.2012
In 2010 when was the first time I've listened to Matthew, I had the same thought as you remembering how Matthew is looked like Hugh Mundell. Incredible! And now I'm still truly sad with his death, ocurred last August. What a pity... a young talent died in this type of brutality. LOVE FOR ALL OF HIS FAMILY... WE are praising!

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