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JIS News

It is with a very deep sense of personal, professional and national loss that I heard of this morning’s untimely death of a man who could be considered the ultimate entertainer – Neville Newton Willoughby.
Long before buzzwords like diversification and multi-tasking became popular, ‘Uncle Nev’ as he was affectionately known, had made his mark as a broadcaster, novelist, live and recorded musician, guitarist and a much sought after Master of ceremonies for the most significant national and commercial events. Perhaps what endeared us all to this man we have all grown to respect, was his disarming humility in spite of his many achievements – a lesson well worth learning in this era of self-serving vulgarity. From the perspective of Jamaican culture, we will always remember the fact that Neville resisted any imported affectation. He refused to ‘twang’, and his accent remained distinctly Jamaican, with clarity and precision. His classic ‘Christmas JA’ has won cult following in the years after its release because of its very earthy ethnic appeal – nothing about reindeer or snow, Santa or jingle bells. Neville also taught us to the value of embracing technology while remaining true to content, in the development of cultural industries. We note with admiration that he developed a multimedia version of his acclaimed novel – Jamaica Boy. Perhaps the best thing we can do to honour Neville in this sad time is to embrace and emulate his work ethic, his gentleness and his generosity of spirit. Walk good Uncle Neville, walk good!