Reported By Allison Skeete

Special To News Americas

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. Dec. 19, 2023: Guyana-born Yoruba Singers Legend And Founding Member Eze Rockcliffe was among the 10  honorees of the 2023 Sunshine Awards, held recently at the Robert Treat Hotel Newark, NJ on October 14th.

Rockcliffe became the 16th Guyanese honored for his dedication and contributions to Afro-Guyanese musical genre, as nominated by Carl Fraser.  The legendary Rockcliffe expressed  his gratitude with a short live performance to the delight if the crowd. 

Guyana-born Yoruba Singers Legend And Founding Member Eze Rockcliffe were among the 10  honorees of the 2023 Sunshine Awards, held recently at the Robert Treat Hotel Newark, NJ on October 14th. (Photo by Stephen Reid)

Fraser himself is dedicated to preserving and teaching the authentic music sounds of Afro-Guyanese such as Lumbay and Kwe-Kwe.

Rockcliffe attended the Awards with his nieces, whom he calls his “daughters,” and was also joined by singer Lady Ira, Lumbay and Kwe Kwe performance artist Fraser along with Members of the Guyana Cultural Association of New York The legendary Yoruba Singers stalwart enjoyed the accolades of the night which was highlighted in a short performance at the awards celebration.

The Yoruba Singers were founded in 1971 by Rockcliffe along with his brother Ken, and 13 others in Georgetown, Guyana. The Yoruba Singers was birthed in a time of critical social change in Guyana with intent to bolster Afro-Guyanese identity and pride, championing the African cultural presence in Guyana post-independence, and building the cultural bridge between African descendants in Guyana and Black people around the world.

Today, he is the longest serving member who still entertains regularly internationally.

The Sunshine Awards was founded in June, 1989 by Gilman Figaro and held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York to enhance the concept of “unity in diversity.” Figaro said was encouraged by his uncle, a musician, to start the event. His uncle, he said, advised him that this was an assignment to provide an opportunity for growth and success while giving back and honoring the roots of many transplanted and now making a life in the US.

The structure of the Awards has become a part of the University of the West Indies curriculum for students pursuing their Masters in Carnival Studies of Masquerade, Costumes, Calypso and other related studies of the Arts and Education.  They research the nominees for the awards under the guidance of Professor Dr. Hollis Liverpool, co-founder of the Sunshine Awards Hall of Fame and the calypsonian also known as “Chalkdust,” who is a member of the Board of Governors of the University of Trinidad and Tobago.

Since its inception, the Sunshine Awards strives to keep its commitment of diversity having honored Artistes, performers; Educators; Cultural supporters; Dancers and more from Africa, the Caribbean, the US and more.  It is now in its 34th year.

Also honored with Rockcliffe were artists  Natu Camara from Guinea, Gerado Contino from Cuba; Rimli Roy of India; Alvin Daniell, Ron Reid and Calypsonian Nadia Batson all of Trinidad and Tobago.  Gamal ‘Skinny Fabulous’ Doyle of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Jazz Clarinetest, Doreen J. Ketchens of the United States.

Sixteen Guyanese national to date have been recognized by the Sunshine Awards. They include:

  • Lance Gibbs in Sports 2016
  • Dheeraj Gayaram – Indian Culture Dancer   2014
  • Malcolm Corrica – Hall of Fame Performing Artist 2012
  • Rudy Bishop – Contribution to Steelband Music 2011
  • Dave Martins – Hall of Fame; of The Tradewinds 2010
  • Dr. Ulric Gibson, Professor 2009
  • CCH Pounder, Actress 2008
  • Hugh Sam, Composer Arranger –2007
  • Keith Maxwell Proctor Musician –2006
  • Cyril Shaw, Promoter –          Friend of the Arts 2005 
  • Habeeb Khan, Comedian – 2005
  • Moses Josiah, Musician – 2004
  • Sybil Chester, Friend of the Arts 2000
  • Celia Samaroo – Chutney Artist – 1999 and,
  • Dennis DeSouza –Contribution to Caribbean Music  1998.
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