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EASY MAGAZINE: Terry ‘Mexican’ Arthur


EASY MAGAZINE: Terry ‘Mexican’ Arthur

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Even before Terry Mexican Arthur reached double-digit age, music was Square One for him. Because of it, he was able to tour the world, racking up hit after soca-induced hit with one of the most successful Barbadian bands to date.
Now, the Raggamuffin days are over and love is the new theme. The former Lodge School boy is all about the Love Day initiative, which will be celebrating its fifth year in December.
“Since I started doing this, it has become primary. It is my main focus. Everything else would have to fit around this . . .,” he told EASY on a windy Tuesday afternoon in Queen’s Park.
“Music now for me would be secondary. I am always thinking about what I am going to do for the next year or what I am going to add.”
The idea first came to him in 2010 while in The City. Mexican saw a ‘vagrant’ and provided him with a meal.
“I went into Chefette and I bought a snack box and gave to him. There was a lady standing close to him and the look she had on her face like, ‘how dare you give him a snack box.’”
The keyboardist and pannist vented his feelings via Facebook and made a decision, and an appeal to others, to assist the less fortunate that Christmas.
Friends and followers quickly agreed and a team was mobilised.
Initially the contributions were strictly for the needy, the musician explained, but it quickly expanded to include the elderly and little children also in need of cheer. Laden with gifts, clothing and hampers, the crew of usually around 70 people assembled at Queen’s Park and took to various parts of the island.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of Mexican’s Love Day drive was the fact that most of his friends from the entertainment industry would come along for the ride – including former Square One band mates Alison Hinds and Anderson Blood Armstrong as well as Ishiaka McNeil, Michael Mikey Mercer and Tamara Marshall, among others.
“We would also sing Christmas carols and hymns to them and listen to their stories, especially the elderly. Sometimes someone would plait their hair and spend time with them. . . . I think the music really adds to it. Seeing entertainers and singers that they see on TV come into their house and sing for them and talk to them makes them feel special.”
Mexican’s first trip was a memory which he kept close, providing encouragement to keep spreading the love. It was for the late Leotta Weekes, who was 103 years old at the time.
“I went with Tamara [Marshall] and I took my steel pan and I played a few Christmas songs for her and she started to sing along. She told us that she used to sing when she was younger . . . [and] told us her whole life story and we were all crying.
“From that first visit, I realised this was something I have to do”, he recalled with a smile. “We [also] gave her a gift and it was one that she treasured until she passed away. She talked about the visit all the time.”
Mexican’s seasonal cheer has turned into year-long efforts, as the need to give back increased.
“When we go out at Christmas, we meet people who really need some help and we would meet people who need groceries and we would take to them once a month . . . . If they are living alone and cannot get to the grocery store, or someone tells us to visit [someone], we realise that they need help, so we . . . see them once or twice a month and take things for them.”
He has also switched out the large trademark sombrero – from which his nickname is derived – for the Easter Bunny cap, donating hundreds of kites across the island.
“If we see little kids who have kites that are broken or maybe they do not have kites at all, we would give them out. [Also] on Easter bank holiday we would invite people to fly kites at the Garrison. The Variety [Children’s Charity] would also bring two busloads of kids to fly kites all evening.”
The response to his Love Day efforts from ordinary Barbadians and corporate entities has been “overwhelming,” Mexican continued, to the point where there are donations made during Christmas which still have to be distributed.
Furthermore, followers and supporters of the project overseas have decided to start their own versions of Love Day – an idea Mexican enthusiastically encouraged.
“I have gotten some messages saying they would like to do it in their respective countries. I know some people who want to do it in New York City, England and I would like to see people do it in other countries, and we could keep growing . . . The more things we get the more people can benefit.”
On the musical side of things, he plans to work with “anyone who needs a hand”, lending his writing and production talents to both up-and-coming and established names.
Fans last caught up with him at the Naniki Jazz Safari playing steel pan alongside saxophonist extraordinaire Arturo Tappin.