The Black Collar Creative Foundation was launched in Trinidad and Tobago on Friday 20th, October with a display of immense talent in recognition of a gifted soul, Janine Charles-Farray. A force in the Arts and media, Farray sadly, passed away in October, 2022. The foundation is aimed at preserving her legacy. In her opening speech, Founding Director, Ms. Marva de Freitas Charles’ (Janine’s mother) gave a chronology of her daughter’s work and dedication to the Cultural and Creative Industries.
The elder Charles recalled that her daughter had been was very active in the choir from as early as primary school and in Bishops Anstey High School under the leadership of Mrs. Bacchus-Ifill. She said singing was her passion and it was nurtured by the late Dr. Pat Bishop who mentored and trained Janine in The Lydians choir.
She was a part of the inaugural Board of The Lydians and later resigned as board member. Following which, she was assigned the position of Communications Officer. Subsequently, she was relieved of this duty by the new Board and Management in 2020. She would eventually form Black Collar Creative Ltd., Ms. de Freitas Charles shared. She was instrumental in scripting the night’s feature musical, Une Petite Nuit (A little night) with Chandelier Productions.
Janine won many awards at the TT Music Festival and sat on several Boards and Committees, the latest being the National Carnival Museum and the Caribbean School of Dancing.
As a Panorama aficionado and lover of calypso, she would review the performances, blog and share her thoughts on social media. She was an avid mas player who loved J’ouvert with 3canal. Charles revealed that they would cross the stage by the Queen’s Park savannah and on the way back, pass in front of Bishops where Janine would lead them in singing the school song, “Who would tru valour see, let him come hither”. There is no better way to describe the brilliance and sheer dynamism of this daughter of the soil, Janine Charles-Farray. She was a ‘cultural powerhouse’ as described by many who knew her, and she advocated for this sector we loved so – she was fearless. One of her many accomplishments was coordinating efforts for cultural and creative organisations during the pandemic, which led to the procurement of hampers donated by Massy Stores to distribute to creative practitioners in need.
Patron of the Foundation, Rhoma Spencer recounts her first encounter with Janine who at the time was being bullied and teased at school for being a big girl, when her mother brought her by her house to talk to her, since she herself was a ‘big’ woman in the arts about body positivity and how to thrive in her skin. Years later, Janine would interview her for the Guardian newspaper, and she reminded her of who she was. She shares that what she saw then was a ‘confident black woman, comfortable in her skin’ and she paused and wondered for a moment if she had a hand in that.
The launch also included the band, One Vision One Voice (OVOV) who entertained the audience with an eclectic mix of music from reggae to pop, showcasing their versatility. The night’s highlight was Chandelier Productions’ theatrical musical, Une Petite Nuit, which told a love story that was both witty and comedic. Led by Musical Director, Michael Hudlin, the theatrical featured singers/actors Adafih Padmore, Joelle Archer, Shennice Williams, Tahfari Leslie, Carl Anthony Hines, Isaiah Alexander, Gabrielle Alleyne and Kristian Adams. Mr. Stephen de Gannes, CEO of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce expressed his absolute enjoyment of the launch, sharing that he was particularly impressed with so many young performers, with special mention of OVOV keyboardist, Candace Moore, all the performances and the high standard of the production and musical accompaniment.
The foundation has since been registered and will soon accept angel contributions and donations towards supporting creative start-ups with seed funding.
The Board of Directors are Enrico de Freitas, Garnet Allen and Marva de Freitas Charles. Interested persons can email the Black Collar Creative Foundation at email@example.com. For press or further information, contact, Rachael N. Collymore of Power Media Hub Ltd. at firstname.lastname@example.org or (868) 323-0416.