Norma Bowen is convinced about the therapeutic value of music. (Picture by Sandy Pitt)
Norma Bowen’s voice has soothed the heart of many of an institutionalised person in Barbados and the Caribbean and, at 70, one of the island’s best known sopranos continues to give of herself through music.
Last Friday afternoon, she was in the music room at her Culloden Road, St Michael home playing and singing hymns with two senior citizens, one a neighbour “with a lovely voice” who once sang in a church choir, the other a singer who once performed solo and with choirs on many a stage in Barbados, but has now lost his sight.
Sitting at the piano earlier that day, Bowen told THE NATION: “I will bring them here and go through some hymns with them. Instead of staying home and doing nothing, let them come and sing and stimulate their brains.”
The veteran singer is convinced about the therapeutic value of music, having sung in the early stages of her career with the now defunct Choir for the Animation of the Sick and Incapacitated. Its founder, the late Harold Rock, was her music teacher while she was a student at the former Federal High School.
Those were the days when each of Barbados’ 11 parishes had an “infirmary” (District Hospital) and Rock’s choir traversed the island cheering up the residents. The choir also sang for patients of the Psychiatric Hospital and at The Lazaretto, the isolation hospital for victims of leprosy once located at Black Rock, St Michael. (GC)
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