16-year-old Leathers gets Archie Alleyne scholarship

By Lincoln DePradine

William Leathers, a 16-year-old musician, was presented with the AASF bursary by Tyyra Alleyne.

A 16-year-old is the latest recipient of a bursary from the Archie Alleyne Scholarship Fund (AASF), which will help his pursuit of an already budding music career.

William Leathers, whose favorite instrument is the piano, said he listens to various genres of music including classical, jazz, pop and reggae.

“But the music that I play is mostly classical and I could do a little bit of jazz on trumpet,” Leathers told The Caribbean Camera last Sunday in Toronto.

The AASF was launched in 2003 on the 70th birthday of Archie Alleyne, a world-renowned Canadian jazz drummer, recording artiste and businessman, who died in June 2015. He was 82.

Crack of Dawn

Over his career, Alleyne, who was named to the Order of Canada, performed with other jazz greats such as Billie HolidayLester Young, Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster.

The aim of the AASF is to help “build and sustain the integrity of live musicianship by ensuring that young people are able to participate in advanced music training and education”.

Leathers was born in Mississauga to a Jamaican-Canadian mother. His father, a trumpet player and singer, was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

The teenager said the AASF award will assist him in his various musical programs, including his involvement with the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Tyyra Alleyne, who is Archie Alleyne’s eldest daughter, presented the award to Leathers. She said he has impressed her as a musician.

“He’s an amazing musician. I’ve seen him play and I was in total awe of him when I saw him,” she said.

Sunday’s AASF award presentation, at Lula Lounge on Dundas St West, also included the launch of two music CDs. One, titled No Fuss, No Muss, was by Kollage – a jazz band with which Alleyne once performed.

The other CD is a production by Crack of Dawn, a Toronto group that first came together nearly 40 years ago. They are said to be the first black band to be signed to a major record label in Canada.

Crack of Dawn’s Spotlight, which also is the name of a single on the CD, was initially released in the UK “and it’s doing extremely well over there”, said saxophonist and business manager, Alvin Jones.

The record, he added, is also being wellreceived in other parts of Europe, as well as sections of the United States and African music markets.

Jones said the band’s schedule includes future plans for embarking on a tour.

“We’re probably going to start our tour in the UK, because that’s where we’ve been getting the highest response,” he said.

“After that, we’ll go according to where we’re getting the best response in terms of people’s reaction to our album, depending on the sales and so on; to those concentrated areas where people are actually buying our music and liking it,” he said.