Malik Hamilton, a 25-year-old saxophonist and soldier, stood tall as an epitome of gratitude when he presented 24 awards to people who have helped him to grow.

He told them: “You are all special to me, and you would have helped me in some way throughout my journey.”

Hamilton presented the awards at Terra Nova Hotel in St. Andrew on August 25 during his ‘musical appreciation and farewell show’.

He is preparing to resign from the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) on October 16 to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in music in the United States.

He disclosed that he has received a scholarship to cover a “massive amount” of his tuition annually, during his four years of enrollment at the internationally renowned Berklee College of Music.

With that major achievement under his belt, Hamilton ordinarily would have been the one receiving all the gifts, but he had no problem flipping the script.

He picked honourees ranging from his boyhood friends to the adults whose tough love kept him in line.

Keeping some of the glory in the family, he presented awards to his parents, siblings and his maternal grandparents – Felix and Verna Brown – who raised him.

His grandmother, after being presented a portrait of him attired in military garb, said: “Malik came to me when he was a very tiny baby boy, and there we watched him grow. God cemented our love and our patience with him, and I am happy for the steps he has taken.”

Hamilton also presented awards to two peers from his community – Nicholas Comrie who has become a police officer and Kevin Brown who is now an army-man.

He explained that Comrie, who taught him to drive motor vehicles, rode bicycle with him while growing up in Lluidas Vale, St. Catherine. “He (Comrie) always took me to my shows before I got my car, before I got my licence; [and] before I could even drive,” Hamilton further said.

Turning to Brown, Hamilton recalled that he (Brown) was the first person that sparked his interest in playing an instrument, notwithstanding that initial instrument being a keyboard.

The teaching staff at Hamilton’s alma mater – Enid Bennett High School, formerly Bog Walk High – was also strongly represented among the awardees.

“I wasn’t the best student in high school, but they were patient enough with me and they tried with me the best they could,” Hamilton told the gathering.

His former teachers who received awards are Nickesha Lindo, Oral Beckford, vice principal Cecil Donald, and principal Patrick Phillips.

Donald said: “We saw his (Hamilton’s) potential from very very early and we nurtured him, we mentored him, and today all of us here [at the awards event] and those in Bog Walk are truly proud of him.”

Two other educators – Nigel Powell and Dachan Morris – were not left out. Hamilton stated that they motivated him and made their facilities available to him though he was not enrolled at their school – Charlemont High.

Hamilton also awarded four members of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF), which he has been serving for six years.

They are Paul Johnson, Euwayne Miller, Granville Simpson, and Kevin Brown who was mentioned earlier.

Miller, a band master in the army, is the one who taught Hamilton to read music.

He told the audience: “Malik came [to the JDF band] at a standard that we weren’t accustomed to in recent years… I wouldn’t say he has mastered the art of reading [music], but he is very close to there… He has been doing great, but there are greater things that he will do.”

Death could not stop Hamilton from awarding one of his biggest supporters, Maxine Sundalyah, who passed away recently.

He presented the award to her widower, Ozou’ne, along with three of their children.

“I a so sorry and heartbroken that she (Maxine) is not here in the flesh,” Hamilton said. “These people are very special to me. Ever since I met them, all they have done is encourage me – encourage me to do the best I can.”

The names of the other people awarded are: Amelia Wellington, Antonio Brown, Kadian Hamilton, Joy-Ann Ellis, Saschauna Hamilton, Tracey Ann Long, Rohan Hamilton, Dwight Burke, and Sasha Brown-Burke.

The award show, in the meantime, was jazzed up with electrifying musical performances by Jodian Pantry, Diel, Sharee Ellise, Karim Chang, Amelia Wellington, Daniel Jackson, and Lukel Miller.


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