Braff, Ishmael Braithwaite

Braff, Ishmael Braithwaite

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It’s been a year since we lost Braff, who left us on 13 May 2022. Soca News lost a retired editor and true pioneer of soca. Ishmael Braithwaite, warmly known to many as ‘Braff’, passed away peacefully with his family on the eve of what would have been his 80th birthday. He had been battling with a number of ailments, including Alzheimer’s and dementia, for a number of years.

Braff was born and raised in the parish of St. Michael, Barbados, where one of his first jobs included working in a soft drinks factory, inputting sodium benzoate. After arriving in England in the 60’s, as many Caribbean immigrants of his generation, Braff’s passion for Barbados and its music continued to run deep. He had a love like no other for soca and calypsos, and he became a promoter of many soca artists in the 80’s, including Red Plastic Bag. He organised concerts, fetes and parties, bringing the essence of the Caribbean to London.

Braff’s talents were vast. His way with words and literature led him to become a great poet, with a large compilation of unpublished poems and stories; something he had to prematurely cut short as his eyesight began to rapidly deteriorate. Also a great mentor and philosopher, he touched the lives of many with his inspirational beliefs and words.

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I had the pleasure of being one of those people; Braff was a true friend and colleague. I particularly loved his no-nonsense approach to life and dry, witty sense of humour. I could be sure of a long laugh and a cackle with Braff.

Braff’s favourite song was Pump Me Up, by no other than Barbados’ Krosfyah. In accordance with his wishes, that song was the poignant, final piece of music played at his funeral.

Soca News has lost a true icon. We pay homage to Braff, may he rest in heaven in eternal peace.

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