Hubert Smith of Bermuda
A Top Musical Entertainer
Born in 1920 to a Black family in Bermuda, Hubert Smith was known as the top musical entertainer of the island during the golden era of Bermuda's tourism. He was a songwriter, music composer and a bandleader who swept through the island during his time. Smith had a heritage of music in his family. His father was a great amateur musician and collected a lot of musical instruments. They used to have regular jam sessions in their house at Spanish Point
Hubert created his own guitar at the age of six and also took violin lessons while he was a child. When he completed his schooling at the age of 13, he initially joined a bakery and then worked in the boats. But he never left his music.
He first started to entertain tourists at the colonial Opera House located on Victoria Street in Hamilton City. This is where he had earlier worked during nights as a stage hand and had the opportunity of observing performances from top musicians including Lance Hayward. He first got his break through as a vocal singer from the renowned bandleader Mark Williams. Subsequently Smith learned music composition from Mark Williams and also took guitar lessons for 3 years.
Hubert Smith - Bermuda
In 1948 he started to immerse himself into the sounds of Calypso Music
and wrote one of his first Calypso songs called the Green Ticket
. It was about women who were ticketed by the police for wearing Bermuda Shorts
that were shorter than the allowed length.
After the World War-II when the hotels opened up to the black entertainers, Smith started to perform in hotels. In 1953, Smith formed his own band the Coral Islander that was named on the hotel where he then performed. Later he performed in many other hotels including the Hamilton Princess
. He could earn his living working as a full time entertainer when many of his contemporary musicians struggled, particularly in the 1980s as the economic scenario changed.
Hubert Smith went on to entertain thousands of tourists, particularly so during the golden era of tourism in Bermuda. He had performed for many Royal members like Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Margaret and Prince Charles, and also presidents such as John Kennedy. He regularly visited the U.S, UK and Canada as part of Bermuda's Briefing tours, and in one such occasions he composed the classic Bermuda Is Another World.
Smith made appearances for TV shows as well including the US Productions Crunch and Des between 1955-1956, and Adventures of the Sea Hawk where he sang in 1958. He received numerous awards during his lifetime including Queen’s Certificate and Badge of Honor. He died in December 2001 at the age of 81 following a heart attack.
2) Check out Bermuda Music and Dance
to know about music and dances that are now part of the island's cultural tradition.