Wed | Dec 6, 2023

Althea Hewitt honours fathers with ‘To Sir, With Love’

‘Good man out deh,’ singer says

Published:Wednesday | June 7, 2023 | 12:53 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
Althea Hewitt shared that her father has shaped her life immensely.
Althea Hewitt shared that her father has shaped her life immensely.

Within the reggae and dancehall space, songs glorifying the goodness of mothers – mama songs – are plentiful; however, the same cannot be said of songs paying tribute to fathers. But singer Althea Hewitt, in her quest to honour her own father and, indeed, all good fathers, is about to change that norm with a cover of To Sir with Love, the theme song from James Clavell’s 1967 film of the same name.

Hewitt, who is a well-established solo singer and whose credits also include harmony in studio and on stage for Beres Hammond, Boris Gardiner, Dwight Pinkney, John Holt, Garnet Silk, Norris Man, Bush Man, Chaka Demus and Pliers, Richie Spice, Colin Levy and Chrisinti, is fearless in shouting out that “good man out deh”.

“Men have not really and truly been given their props. And that’s why I even wrote Good Man which is another single out for fathers. I know there are a lot of good men out there doing the best they can. I know the women might argue but they need to think about it. I could go deeper but I think we should give them the applause when it’s their turn,” Hewitt declared firmly.

The daughter of a musician, in whose band she made her singing debut, Hewitt shared that her father has shaped her life immensely and added that he was the one who took she and her siblings to the beach, Coconut Park and the movies.

In her tribute, she stated, “I love my dad. You can say I am a daddy’s girl. He could do no wrong. He provided for us and I always wanted to run back home. He is the one responsible for me being in the music industry. My first song Sweet Love with myself and a girl named Molly was recorded by him. He put me on stage to sing [a] duet with my brother Lancelot. He wasn’t a saint but at least Mr and Mrs Hewitt stayed together to ensure we had a proper chance in life. So, I feel blessed to have had him in our lives.”

Taking a stroll down memory lane, she reflected on the societal norm when she was a child, as it related to the family structure.

“Back in the day the breadwinner was the man. Women stayed at home and tended to the babies while the fathers paid for the roof over their heads, put food on the table, school, clothes ... classic back-in-the-day rituals. However, my mother did work at times doing house work and even selling suck-suck to keep herself busy while tending to the seven of us until she had to throw in the towel and become a full-fledged housewife.”

She shared that her mother use to say that she hoped her daughter would “find a rich man” to take care of her. But Hewitt, a founding member of all-girl group 4th Street Sista, noted that she had no intention of doing that, and instead chose music to take care of herself. To Sir with Love, which was produced by Richie Stephens for his Pot of Gold label, is special to her.

“It’s one of my favourite songs to do when I perform on stage as it brings back memories for so many people. I remember my high school days [and] it reminds me of my math teacher, Mr Derby. So, yes it touches me in that way.”

A past student of Camperdown High School, Hewitt represented her school in the Teen Star Search Competitions during the ‘90s. She has recorded for well-known record producers, including the late Fattis Burrell and Donovan Germaine, and also did background harmonies for and worked with Sony Records artiste, Diana King.

She sang jazz at the Ritz-Carlton in Rose Hall, Montego Bay, and what was supposed to be one night of jazz lasted a year and a half. Hewitt subsequently toured Europe with Bushman, and Australia and New Caledonia with Max Romeo and the Third World band.

In 2021, Hewitt entered the Jamaica Festival Song Competition with the song Jamaica Nice, and was selected as one of the 10 finalists.

To Sir with Love will be released in time for Father’s Day, Sunday, June 18.

yasmine.peru@gleanerjm.com