• Saturday, May 25, 2024

Entertainment

Indian origin South African musician Barry Baldeo dies

Popularly known as ‘Barry’ Baldeo, the guitarist passed away on Sunday morning.

(Photo: Lexy Shunmoogam/Instagram)

By: Mohnish Singh

Surabjit Jaybelly Baldeo, a noted South African musician of Indian origin, has died at the age of 66.

Popularly known as ‘Barry’ Baldeo, the guitarist, who passed away on Sunday morning, was a key participant in almost every Indian musical show in South Africa, according to close friends and collaborators.

“His last performance was at our Tamil New Year Concert in Midrand on Saturday,” said organiser Lexy Shunmugan of SA Musicians Against Covid.

“Barry played an instrumental role in setting up the equipment, rehearsing with the band and singers, and then playing in the performance. He was a perfectionist whose skill on the range of guitars that he played was unmatched. What we will remember him best for is his gentle demeanour and his determination to always assist younger musicians to hone their skills,” Shunmugan added.

Baldeo endeared himself to colleagues and listeners at the East Wave Radio where he worked his way through the ranks to become the station manager.

“His leadership and commitment significantly advanced the station’s growth… SJ’s vibrant personality and camaraderie were instrumental in promoting an organised team spirit, particularly amidst evolving regulatory landscapes in community radio,” said Vikash Maharagh, current head of the station.

The late musician is said to have stepped up as a guitarist for one of the performances of late ghazal singer Pankaj Udhas when he and his brothers Manhar and Nirmal toured Johannesburg in 2012.

“It’s rare that our artists get an opportunity to play a full show with musicians from India, and to get praise like that from someone like Pankaj Udhas was a special feather in the cap of Barry,” said another veteran of the local entertainment industry, Anil Rambaran.

Paying tribute to Baldeo, the South African Tamil Federation said the musician was a bridge builder who participated in countless community events, “threading together the diverse cultures that coexisted”.

“We pay tribute to such a gentleman, who was always considered with great respect and was widely recognised for his contribution to the music fraternity. We have lost a true legend,” the federation said in its statement.

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