On Wednesday, the Legislature continued their Perma Plaque ceremony in the Earl B. Ottley Legislative Hall on St. Thomas and honored 13 individuals for their artistic, educational, and professional contributions to the Virgin Islands community with commemorative plaques.
Senate President Donna Frett-Gregory said the work of honorees did not go unnoticed and they should be proud of their work.
“You have been a recipient of this honor from the legislature, the first branch of this government of the Virgin Islands. So please don’t take your honor lightly,” said Frett-Gregory.
Honorees ranged from mechanics, musicians, moko jumbies, and schools.
The Voices of Love Choir was acknowledged for providing over forty years of performance in the territory. The group has sung songs in English, Spanish, and Dutch creole in about twelve music genres, according to Sen. Dwayne DeGraff.
“The Voices of Love is not a choir of perfection. It is a community choir where just about each of us consider ourselves an amateur. An amateur in the sense that the word ‘ama’ means love, and an amateur originally was one who either has a love for or a love of a particular art,” said Glenn “Kwabena” Davis, director and founder of the group.
“There is tremendous hope for us to not just speak about Virgin Islands pride, but to do it to contribute to it, and to fight to make sure that it is preserved,” added Davis.
St. Clair Alponso DeSilva, better known as “Whadablee,” was also honor for his musical contributions. He shared his history of going outside in his youth and learning how to play the ukulele from guys in his neighborhood as being the inspiration for him to become a music artist.
“Every day I was going out under this tree to learn how to play the ukulele, and that’s what, to this day, is what I use to compose all of my music. Nobody arranged my songs. I arranged and write all of my songs,” said DeSilva.
Tishelle Knight, Maestro Gylchris Sprauve, Rashawn Ross, and the Rising Stars Steel Orchestra were also honored for their musical contributions.
Alvin “Ali Paul was another honoree. He was commended for representing the Virgin Islands as a moko jumbie.
“I would remember Ali going wee hours in the morning to represent the V.I. government, particularly the Division of Tourism, Department of Tourism rather, going all over the world. I never would have believed a person would travel the world just because of two pieces of stick,” said Franke Hoheb, brother of Paul.
In addition, Lee “Lee Vee” Vanterpool was honored for his contributions to media in the Virgin Islands. He was a well-known radio personality.
“If you knew my uncle Lee, he was a voice, he was a presence. If you were ever in his presence, you just knew you were among greatness, sophistication. He was an exquisite dancer. He was the voice,” said Pam Moolenar Wirsiy, niece of Vanterpool.
Many stories and anecdotes were shared among honorees and senators during the ceremony. Sen. Steven Payne even serenaded audience members with a tribute on his trumpet.
“Our honorees today, you guys are a big deal,” said Frett-Gregory. “My colleagues and I recognize you with profound pride and gratitude.”
Sens. Donna Frett-Gregory, Novelle Francis Jr., Dwayne DeGraff, Alma Francis-Heyliger, Janelle Sarauw, Steven Payne, Kurt Vialet, Milton Potter, Marvin Blyden, and Carla Joseph were present.
The following are the resolutions that were made for the St. Thomas-St. John honorees:
Resolution No. 1847- A Resolution honoring and commending the Voices of Love Choir for its Forty years of performance for various segments of the community.
Resolution No. 1848- A Resolution posthumously honoring and commending Guilderoy Ashley Sprauve, Sr. for his extensive work as a diesel mechanic for the major ferryboats on St. John, St. Thomas, and Tortola, British Virgin Islands, and for his service and contributions to the marine industry.
Resolution No. 1858- A Resolution recognizing the 50th anniversary of the Virgin Islands Port Authority.
Resolution No. 1860- A Resolution honoring and commending Tishelle Knight for her accomplishments, service, and musical contributions to the Virgin Islands.
Resolution No. 1861- A Resolution posthumously honoring and commending Alvin “Ali” Paul for his contribution to the culture of the Virgin Islands, through the moko jumbie artform.
Resolution No. 1863- A Resolution honoring and commending Rising Stars Steel Orchestra for their musical contributions and dedication to the youth of our community and for a being cultural ambassador abroad.
Resolution No. 1864- A Resolution posthumously honoring and commending Lee “Lee Vee” Vanterpool, a native son, for contributions to the Virgin Islands community as a consummate media professional and mentor, and for his contribution of time and professional skills to numerous non-profit organizations and events that have benefitted the Virgin Islands community.
Resolution No. 1874- A Resolution honoring and commending Rashawn Ross for his outstanding achievements and contributions in the field of music.
Resolution No. 1875- A Resolution to recognize the 50th anniversary of the Petite Pump Room, a locally owned and operated business.
Resolution No. 1877- A Resolution honoring and commending Ms. Deanna Elyse Rogers for her outstanding civil contributions and public service to the Legislature of the Virgin Islands.
Resolution No. 1878- A Resolution commemorating the 100 Year Anniversary of the Charlotte Amalie High School on St Thomas, Virgin Islands (1920-2020).
Resolution No. 1883- A Resolution honoring and commending St. Clair Alphonso “Whadablee” DeSilvia for his invaluable contribution to continued development of Calypso music in the Virgin Islands.
Act No. 8417- An Act recognizing the musical talents and contribution of Maestro Gylchris Sprauve; and amending title 1 Virgin Islands Code, chapter 7 by adding section 104a to designate the musical composition Valiant Virgin Isles as the Centennial Anthem of the Virgin Islands.