Centenarian and Musical Icon Awardee, Mr. Wesley Howell is officially the oldest man in the Cayman Islands at 105 years of age.
The Musician and shoemaker celebrated the special occasion playing his beloved saxophone over the weekend at the Constitution Hall in George Town, along with dignitaries, friends and family.
Initially, Mr. Howell came to the Cayman Islands for a ‘gig’ in the 1950’s, after a band leader heard about his talents on the saxophone and sent for him to come to Cayman from Jamaica for a bit.
As the saying goes, ‘the rest is history’ and what stared out only as a 6 months stint on the Island, turned into a life time of song and service.
Today, Mr Howell is one of Cayman’s Musical Icons; formally being honored in 2018 by the Cayman Music and Entertainment Association (CMEA), alongside other notable stalwarts in the sonic tapestry of the Cayman Islands such as - Aunt Julia Hydes, Radley Gourzong, Dr. Melano McCoy, Dalmane Ebanks Ducksy Ebanks; Bunny Myles; Edward Solomon, Lammie Seymour; Edmond Scott, Melvin Augustine; Charles ‘Greggie G’ Gregory and Jonathan Ebanks.
Although his saxophone was never out of reach, Mr. Howell was also known for, designing and making custom shoes and slippers, as well as boots for police officers and leather straps for the schools over the years.
An entirely self taught musician, his first instrument was actually a bamboo flute, which he fashioned himself, before moving onto the clarinet and eventually the sax, where he said he found his calling.
He noted that finding the instrument was a divine plan and explained how the path was serendipitously paved before him to play it: “After I bought it, I found that I knew how to play it. I have the feelings that it’s God’s power, God give me a gift of music and I live off that,” he said.
From his time with working with early Caymanian bands like the Tornadoes, playing with Caymanian legends such as Eldon Rankine, as well as other stars of yesteryear and recording albums in the Cayman Islands, Mr. Howell’s impact has certainly struck a chord with the entire community who celebrated his birthday with him each year.
His Excellency the Governor, Mr. Martyn Roper was also in attendance at Saturday’s celebration and spoke about his admiration for the grace, fortitude, resilience and commitment Mr. Howell has displayed throughout his life.
“Many congratulations to Wellesley Howell, shoemaker and saxophonist and also Cayman’s oldest man at 105! Delighted to meet him and family last night (Saturday 11th, January) at a birthday celebration at Constitution Hall in George Town. He even played the saxophone brilliantly for guests. What an inspiration for all of us,” he said.
President of the CMEA Jean-Eric Smith echoed the sentiments of Mr. Roper and lauded the contribution Mr. Howell had made professionally, as well as personally; praising him for his roles as a musician and family-man.
“Mr. Howell has set a great example in every aspect and if we should have the privilege of seeing the years that he has, it would be a magnificent blessing to do so with the grace and dignity he has shown,” he remarked.