“Can You Hear Me Now?”: Remembering Dom Basil Matthews, the Revolutionary Priest

“Can You Hear Me Now?”: Remembering Dom Basil Matthews, the Revolutionary Priest

Photo courtesy: Big Drum Nation

By bigdrumnation

Today, April 7, 2024, marks the 25th anniversary of the transition of Dom Basil Matthews (1911-1999), the Trinidadian-born Benedictine monk and founder of St. Benevcicts College. Although most would remember Dr. Matthews as a monk, author, priest, educator, football pioneer, and debater, he was much more.

Little wonder that his vision is deftly captured in “Can You Hear Me Now?” a stirring tribute to the Dom produced by Gil Figaro and Charles Dougherty. By excavating and sampling the Dom’s work, the CD not only provokes memory anchored in the conviction of citizens’ “right to change the world” but compels us to reconsider life to refashion our futures. The lyrics of this collector’s item, written by Gil Figaro, a former St. Benedict’s student, are well-articulated by the suave Keith Styla (formerly known as Designer), with the indomitable Mighty Sparrow reflecting Dom’s passion and prescience by underscoring his admonition that “it takes courage and pride to be exceptional.” Three haunting solos, Earl Brooks, Jr. on pan, Frankie MacIntosh on keyboards, and Charle Dougherty on saxophone, position “Can You Hear Me Now” on the stage to sing through time.

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DBM was a passionate Pan-Americanist and pioneering sociologist of the Caribbean family. His 1954 book Crisis Of The West Indian Family captured and laid bare the underbelly of society, and it is even more relevant today as the region contends with a lack of governance driven in no small part by compromised social and familial relations.

In recognition of the release of this historic CD celebrating the 25th anniversary of Matthew’s transition, BDN republishes two articles to compel continuous focus on the salience and prescience of this revolutionary monk. First, in his 2009 tribute, Caldwell Taylor reflects on the life and vision of DBM in Dom Basil Matthews: Priest and Passionate Pan-Americanist, as the Caribbean prepared then to host the Fifth Summit of the Americas in his birthland, Trinidad. In Dom Basil Matthew – Pedagogue of God Winthrop R. Holder reviews “Dom Basil Matthews: Nihi Omnino Christo,” a CD tribute, and reflects on Matthew’s activist Catholicism, his cultural syncretism, radical, non-conformist pedagogy, and his conviction of musical forms like calypso as unifying elements that could help forge deeper ties across the artificial barriers.

From BDN Editors

Click below to hear Can You Hear Me Now.

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