“I want to inspire others to become better than the best”- Saxophonist

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, June 11, 2019

‘The apple does not fall far from the tree’, is a saying that can best describe 31-year-old saxophonist Roy Stewart.

With a guitar builder as his grandfather and a singing maternal grandmother, the perfect atmosphere for a budding musician like Stewart was set from his tender years. Born in Linden, Region 10, but raised in Suriname at one-year-old, he spent 21 years in the Dutch-speaking country before returning to this beautiful land of ours in 2009.

31-year-old saxophonist Roy Stewart.

At the age of 6, he became a member of the Seventh Day Adventist children’s choir called the ‘Happy Song Singers’ and in his later years, youth choir, “Redeemed”.

“At the age of four, we were in devotion and I sang a harmonic part and my mother asked where I learnt that but it is all in my head. I love music, I love listening to it, I know about the days of Lp player (vinyl player) and so my interest in music grew…I remember as a child my friend introduced me to an instrument made of coconut branch,” Stewart said.

Speaking with DPI, he explained that while this instrument may not have melodic sound, it helped in his pursuit to master the saxophone after listening to artistes like Kenny G, Kirk Whaluman and even his friends.

Fast forward about 10-years later, Stewart purchased his very first saxophone from a friend with money he saved from washing dishes and with the help of another, learned how to play. However, he said that in the beginning he struggled more than he had anticipated and contemplated disposing of the instrument.

“The squeaks came about when I started out and at one point, I wanted to give up learning how to play because it felt as though I was not getting it. I was not getting those beautiful tones that I envisioned. I had about 5 months training, compliments of my church friend and one day I was walking to my lessons and I wanted to throw this saxophone in the trench and head home but God had it differently. I am glad that he did and I am still growing,” Stewart explained. He further explained that this was not the direction he intended to follow since returning home, as it was his hope of pursuing studies in Psychology at the University of Southern Caribbean. While there have been many successes for the saxophonist, his greatest success is being able to rise above adversities as an individual diagnosed with macular degeneration.

This condition is the leading cause of severe, irreversible vision loss in people over age 60.  It occurs when the small central portion of the retina also known as the macula deteriorates. Although the age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is almost never a totally blinding condition, it can be a source of significant visual disability.

Stewart related that he can see general outlines, but it is impossible for him to give details, since that requires special spectacles which he obtained from Suriname a few years ago.  With this in mind, he encourages the nation’s young people to cease their involvement in the life of crimes noting that ‘nothing good comes out in the life of crime’.

He performs at funerals, weddings, parties and at any other events. Currently, Stewart resides in Plum Park, Sophia with his wife of 3 years, Tamela and his two daughters, Jasmine and Jamilla. He still owns his very first instrument and considers it part of him.

Image: Ameer Sattaur

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