Sol Raye Laid To Rest To The Sound Of His Own Music

Hardbeatnews, LONDON, England, Thurs. Apr. 6, 2006: Guyanese singing icon Sol Raye was yesterday laid to rest following a simple ceremony at the West London Crematorium. His own-recorded music filled the chapel that drew an over capacity crowd.

Raye’s younger brother, Guyana’s main opposition leader, Robert Corbin, of the Peoples National Congress Reform party, delivered the eulogy, stating simply, ‘Today, Sol Raye is unforgettable.’ It was a clear reference to one of the late singer’s best-known songs.

Hundreds made the last journey with Raye with about seventy forced to make do with listening to the service by public address system because of a lack of seats in the cathedral.

Primary among the mourners were the family of Raye, led by his sister Tessa and his Corbin, who had flown to the UK to help organize the funeral.

He called Raye, whom the family refer to as Neville despite his real name being Dereck, “A loving brother,” and recalled the Christmas a decade ago when he and his brothers and father had spent their last yuletide together.

It was “Magical. A time we will all cherish,” he said, adding that Raye had been determined to make a tribute to his father a last project. He failed. Corbin’s only regret, he said, was that Raye had never recorded, to his knowledge, Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” since he said that song summed up the life of his late brother completely.

Among the other mourners were several prominent members of the UK Diaspora, including actor Ram John “Pork Pie’ Holder, cricketer Devon Malcolm, Rev Ivelaw Bowman, honorary dean of Southwark Cathedral, Hamley Case, the PNC/R treasurer, Roger Moore, radio talk show host, Ian Hall, musician and Michael Brotherson, Guyanese diplomat.

The hundreds were treated to three Raye songs, a great degree of nostalgia and not a little joy. Also paying tribute to Raye in music was other Guyanese artistes, including flautist Keith Waithe, pan man Aubrey Bryan and singer Cleopatra, in an atmosphere that veered between the serious and the joyous.

And as the service ended, the unforgettable voice of Sol Raye rang out: “Smile and the world smiles with you.”

Raye, born Dereyck Marshall Corbin, died in the Royal Marsden Hospital last Friday following a ten-year battle against cancer, which had deprived him of half a stomach at his end. He made his name as crooner in the style of Nat ‘King’ Cole after immigrating to the UK from Guyana four decades ago. His new album, called ‘Sol Raye Restrospective,’ is due to be released later this year on his own record label, Target. –