NEW YORK BASED JAMAICAN MUSIC INDUSTRY PRO PASSES ON FROM COVID-19
by Dave Rodney, Caribbean Times Writer
Another Jamaican-born music industry professional has passed away from Covid-19 complications. Derrick Thompson, a classical music impresario and talent manager died at a Manhattan hospital in New York City on Tuesday from COVID-19 related complications, a colleague told Caribbean Times.
Thompson was a medical technologist by training and had worked for several years at the University Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica. But he had also promoted classical music events and performance talent for over four decades, going back to his association with the National Chorale in Kingston in the 1980s, setting up concerts around the island with the assistance of corporate sponsors. He is also credited with bringing overseas guest voices to Jamaica to perform with the Chorale, including Lorna Myers and Joyce Britton.
After he migrated to the United States over three decades ago, Mr. Thompson continued to follow his passion for classical music, particularly in the areas of piano, organ and choral work. He had a sharp eye for new and exciting emerging talent, especially those coming out of Jamaica, and he was always more than happy to assist and point talent in a productive direction, whether he was in a management partnership with them or not.
PASSIONATE ABOUT ARTIST DEVELOPMENT
Up to the time of his passing, Thomson had worked in the capacity of business manager to George Davey, a world-class Jamaican organist and choir master currently attached to an Episcopal parish in Brooklyn, New York.
“Derrick Thompson has been my manager for many years and he has created significant growth in my career”, Davey told Caribbean Times. ” He was recommended to me by the late Geoff Fairweather who felt I needed to spend more time perfecting my organ skills and less time sorting out bookings, promotions and the administrative part of my career. It was the best move I made as I found Thompson to be thorough, assertive, very focused on detail including the fine print, and intensely passionate about artist development. If he came across an opportunity, he would act on it immediately regardless if it happened to be late night, early morning or on vacation days”, Davey pointed out. Both Thompson and Davey are past students of Kingston College.
Beyond his passion for music, Thompson’s kindness was legendary. He cultivated a genuine interest in the social lives of people, from princes to freshly minted paupers. “Derrick would give away his last dollar and he was a fount for cultural information. He’d tell you that it was Edna Manley’s birthday, remind you of the opening of an exciting Broadway show and alert friends where to find discounted Alvin Ailey tickets or directions to the best Jerk chicken in Harlem”, a friend and neighbor revealed.
“This is really sad news for me”, prominent Jamaican musician and music educator Paulette Bellamy posted on a Facebook thread announcing Thompson’s passing. He always kept in touch with us…caring and sharing. We had no idea that his last visit to Jamaica last year would indeed have been his last. He fought a valiant fight. Rest well”, the post continued. Another Jamaican, Audrey Allen, prominent attorney-at-law and a longtime friend of Thompson also commented on the thread. ” Derrick’s passing has created a void which only memories and time can fill. I am comforted by the fact that I was privileged to see him last year when he visited Jamaica”, Allen wrote. The Facebook memorial thread was created by Thompson’s Kingston College colleague and a voice from NDTC Singers, Carl Bliss.
“My brother Derrick was larger than life and he will be greatly missed by me every single day”, his sister Arlene Thompson in Irvington, NJ, a health care specialist, told Caribbean Times. “He was admired by people from all walks of life, his unending kindness knew no limits and became part of the lives of those he knew”, she sobbed. In addition to his sister Arlene, he leaves behind a brother Altiman in Maryland and several nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends. An online sendoff for Thompson will announced later in accordance with current COVID-19 rules.
Derrick Thompson, classical music industry pro