Family, music fraternity celebrate Arif Cooper
‘Guardian Angel’ tribute concert held at JC auditorium
There is no doubt that the media and music community dearly miss the late Arif ‘Supa Coop’ Cooper. It has been two weeks since the heartbreaking death of the broadcaster, disc jockey, engineer and producer but many entertainers and colleagues, who gathered for the ‘Guardian Angel’ Tribute Concert held at the Jamaica College Auditorium on Tuesday night to honour his life and work, still described his passing as “surreal” and struggled to fight back their tears while giving musical tributes.
The event kick-started with spoken tributes and then saw the likes of Mr Lexx, Benzly Hype, Wayne Marshall, Sean Paul, Looga Man, Beenie Man, Alaine, Tami Chynn, Sanjay among others taking to the stage to perform songs either produced by Cooper or that he helped to propel in his role as radio broadcaster and as a disc jockey. Even artistes who could not be present to pay their respects provided their tributes virtually. Demarco said that Cooper gave him one of his biggest songs of his recording career – True Friend.
Chris Martin said in addition to Take My Love on the Guardian Angel Riddim, Cooper produced the song that “allowed me to go to the Motherland for the very first time to perform”, Watch me Lord, which was a fitting track for the occasion.
Cooper scored major success with the release of the Guardian Angel Riddim in 2007, “and now he has become an actual ‘guardian angel’ for us in the music industry … this all feels too real”, said his protégé and friend Scientist, as he searched for the words to explain the emotions he felt as he listened to the artistes perform songs from the popular dancehall rhythm.
Organised by Dream Entertainment’s Scott Dunn, who is also a relative, the tribute concert was a true depiction of the way the Cooper siblings imagined their brother would like the celebration of his life and work to be. The event was filled with sentimental moments as persons gathered inside and around the auditorium exchanging stories of their interaction with Cooper.
Though at a loss for words, Abieon Cooper told The Gleaner, “Our family is grateful, and especially to Scott, who pulled together everything. He came to me, and said that he knew everything would now fall on my shoulders as the eldest son now. The tribute concert is what it was supposed to be and we appreciate it more than I can explain.”
He also found the strength to “give thanks” to all present. “For all the love, support and condolences … words can’t explain what it means to me, my sister, my brother, the whole family. We trust in the plan of the creator and that’s where the comfort comes from to trust that this is the design even though we may not understand, we give thanks,” he stated in his address to those who gathered.
Friends of Cooper reassured that the producer’s legacy was safe and that his contribution was not something “anyone who knew him, could put out of their minds”, shared Brian Stanford, who also goes by the moniker DJ Mayhem. It was a nostalgic evening for Stanford and his wife Sara, who danced to the selections of the disc jockey at their wedding almost a decade ago.
“Aside from Arif pushing my career for a very long time, I had to be here because of the impression he made on my life and wife. One of his greatest lessons comes from his own ability to blend music; there are not a lot of people who can move seamlessly from house music, to soca, to reggae, which I’ve tried to emulate. He knows how and what to play to keep people moving,” he said.
Sara chimed in, “After living in the states for many years, when I returned to Jamaica, I tuned into Fame FM more and every time Arif played, I caught a vibe. So, when Brian proposed, I immediately said he has to be our DJ and he was like ‘say less’ and he made it memorable. The tribute concert was awesome, and to his family, we know what you’re going through is very difficult but and we ask they you all be well. We continue to pray for his entire family.”
The service for Arif Cooper takes place at the Webster’s Memorial United Church in Half-Way Tree, Kingston, this Friday, March 24.