4 Things I Learnt from Pat Bishop
Trinidad and Tobago recently lost, arguably, its most talented musician – Dr. Patricia Bishop. From pan arranger to the leader of esteemed, local choir The Lydians, her talent and influence on music in Trinidad and Tobago was paramount. But this here is not another Express/Guardian/TV6 report on her influence on the country. It’s actually her direct influence on me, as my godmother.
In the 23 years that I knew her, albeit the fact that I haven’t had a gigantic amount of interaction with her over the past ten odd years or so, I learned a lot from her, and I only feel it right that I leave a more personal part of her legacy with the world. So here goes some things I learned from Pat Bishop, before her unfortunate passing.
That I had talent
In advance, please excuse my confidence, which you may mistake for cockiness (lol). Subconsciously, I always knew I was musically talented, especially in the song-writing department. Alas, the apple really doesn’t fall that far from the tree. However, for my first 15 years on this earth, I doubted my own talent, especially since the majority of people in my life were negative about my talent, quite unnecessarily so, I might add. But after 15 years, that was about to change with one simple conversation with Aunty Pat.
One day, my mom and I went to visit her, and she decided to ask me one simple question – “What do you want to do?” Tentatively, with my unconfident, chubby frame, I responded, “W-w-well… I write songs, and I really like music… so I was thinking about that”. Much to my surprise (no sarcasm here of course), she asked to me sing something for her. I looked at her with my infamous you-have-to-be-joking face, and shyly said, “No, I can’t”. Before this moment, I was convinced that my face was enough to swoon and discourage anyone from pushing me… only for Aunty Pat to give me, what I call, her oh-please sarcastic face, with her head facing downwards, her eyelids half open, while her eyes stare blankly at you, and not any expression in any other part of her face. Though I can’t remember the song, I sang something short nonetheless, and from that moment on, my life would change.
Aunty Pat asked me to come to a Lydians practice session, and for me the chance to possibly join one of the biggest choirs in the country was an immediate confidence boost. If Pat Bishop watched you in your face, gave you a silent nod of approval, and invited you to join the Lydians, who are some snotty-nosed teenagers who said you weren’t a good singer? Nonetheless, this taught me to always believe in myself and always have confidence, because if you can’t believe in yourself, then no matter if anyone else is positive or negative, your situation will always be the same. This is also a major reason why today I’m pursuing my dream of becoming an entertainer.
Do not be afraid to achieve your dreams, and nothing beats perseverance like perseverance
That same day when Aunty Pat asked me what I wanted to be, it didn’t just stop at “sing”, and “come to Lydians practice”. Both times she asked me the question (at age 15, and, recently, at age 22), she proceeded to tell me about her own life. Each time, I was told about her humble beginnings, her moving to England to study and subsequently work, and the dedication she put into the craft she and I loved – music. After all this, she said one thing – you know where I’m going with this right? And of course I did. It meant don’t be afraid to achieve your dreams. You just have to work hard for what you really want.
For years, my parents always told me the same thing, and in two conversations Aunty Pat instilled in me what my parents could not for years. With wit and charm (after instilling the world of confidence in me), she also showed me that nothing can beat hard work. I must say though that if Aunty Pat wasn’t direct and brutally honest with me… I wouldn’t have listened. Which taught me…
Don’t beat around the bush… be direct… but be respectful
Aunty Pat was a very honest, very direct person, but she never said anything with the intent of hurting your feelings. Her directness was always conventional. While in the Lydians, if she heard something she didn’t like, she would ring her infamous cowbell and tell you directly what was wrong, with no ifs, ands, buts or maybes. I observed this trait of hers and took it directly on as one of my own, although you can still find me telling my odd lie here and there, like every human.
The question I always asked myself though was, how was she able to be so real with everyone, but still maintain the love she got, and avoid negativity? Only when I answered this question was I able to truly understand her direct nature and take it on as my own.
Nothing beats being a nice person
That was the key. She was always sweet, even in her directness, and also was very sweet when she wasn’t. She was loving, giving, caring, and wanted nothing but the best for herself and those around her. No matter what I saw, she was always the same, and always happy, even though I don’t often remember her cracking smiles. Everyone who knows me and wonders how it is I smile, keep positive, and love everyone – even those who weren’t good to me? My upbringing from my mother Dawn, and observing Aunty Pat like this in my hardest of times is what made me who I am. And personally, I believe this is the greatest thing I have ever inherited from anyone in my life.
Ultimately, being the godson of Pat Bishop changed my life in a ridiculous way. She left us as a legend, and as a great musician. However, she also left with something else – a plethora of people who loved and adored her, and a bit of her personality instilled in me. RIP Aunty Pat, and much love.
Image credit: http://www.caribbeanlifenews.com
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