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Date of Passing: Nov 22, 2019

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1959 - 2019

On the evening of November 22, 2019, while setting up his keyboard, Our Dearest, Gerald Phillip Atwell, was about to begin playing with the other great musicians in what would turn out to be "his final set" - passing away November 23, 2019, at the age of 60. Now, one year since that day, we, his immediate family, continue to adjust, remembering him as we marvel at his legacy. He was described as a Connector and a Great Collaborator among many talented musicians and committed individuals like himself who worked tirelessly to help groups striving to strengthen our community. Their example deepened our appreciation of how we all can work for change while improving our understanding and communication with one another. Gerry and his cohorts were especially interested in encouraging aspiring musicians and artists.
The past year has seen work carried on in Gerry's name. Upon his passing, our family and the St. Norbert Arts Centre jointly established the Gerry Atwell Memorial Mentorship Fund. This endowment fund's focus is to continue Gerry's work and provide mentorship to aspiring artists in various disciplines by established artists. Emerging artists would be invited to showcase their work at GerryFest each year. An inaugural fundraising GerryFest took place on August 14, Gerry's birthday, with performances by a vast array of Gerry's associates in music and the arts. The festival was a collaboration among SNAC, Gerry's friends, our family, and CBC Manitoba which filmed a one hour live broadcast of the day long festival which can be viewed on YouTube at Gerry Atwell Legacy Project.
In the year since his passing, honours and good works in Gerry's name have continued. In August, thanks to the initiative of Councilor Markus Chambers, the City of Winnipeg honoured Gerry Atwell with the honourary naming of a street after him. For the next few years Rue des Ruines du Monastère in St. Norbert will also be known as "Gerry Atwell Way". In September, Breakout West 2020 honoured Gerry's memory with the Heritage Award. The Luminous String Quartet have dedicated their recently released CD, I Did It For Love, to Gerry for his support with the project. This month the Boogie Knights band proudly
re-released their album, That's the Way, to all streaming platforms in an effort to raise awareness and support for the Gerry Atwell Memorial Mentorship Fund. In December, The Broadway Neighbourhood Centre's Just TV, which Gerry played an instrumental role in establishing, will announce a new Award in Gerry's name for a recipient who is dedicated to music creation and storytelling and makes an impact on their community through art.
At the celebration of Gerry's life last December many of his musical colleagues volunteered their considerable talents on and off stage for an emotional event before an audience of over 900 family members, friends and fans. Our family would like to extend its thanks to all the organizers, volunteers, technicians, performers and the hosts of the event - "One Love Celebration of Life for Gerry Atwell". In memoriam, the video from this event is available on YouTube at Gerry Atwell Legacy Project.

Thomas Campbell, the Scottish writer, wrote,
"To live in hearts we leave behind
is not to die."

The sadness of Gerry's sudden death cut a wide swath felt not only by his family and friends but also by his fans and the various communities he'd touched. Our family was and continues to be grateful for all the many offers of sympathy and shared memories of Gerry.

And so Gerry Atwell is missed,
loved and will always be remembered.
– the Atwell Family.

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Nov 21, 2020

Condolences & Memories (1 entries)

  • Today, Nov. 22nd marks one year since Gerry's passing. Gerry Atwell was my distant second cousin, but he was much more than that. We shared a love for music and for the arts! The gap of distance closed as we would converse on Facebook often talking about the music scene and up and coming artists in Trinidad and Tobago and Canada. We dreamed of creating a bridge between our two worlds where the music and the arts could be explored and for cultural exchange. Although he lived in Winnipeg, he was very much in tune with his "Trini" side and spoke fondly of his encounter with the late great calypsonian, Garfield Blackman aka Ras Shorty I / Lord Shorty - the inventor of Soca and Jamoo music! Gerry was quite a humbled soul and I was happy to reconnect with him in Winnipeg in 2015 and then again in 2018. Through St. Norbert's Arts Center, Gerry extended an invitation to feature an artist I managed under Power Media Hub in the first Canadian Caribbean Soul Exchange Forum. This was to be the first of many collaborative ventures. Who knew that the sands of time would run out the next year and that would be the last time I saw him! I think about this alot; although we were years apart, we were dreamers and I found in Gerry a kindred spirit! The last time I saw him I was honoured to see him in his element with his band, Ministers of Cool! He holds a special place in my heart and I'm thankful to have gotten the chance to know him! He'll always be remembered! Love you always. - Posted by: Rachael N. Collymore (Cousin) on: Nov 21, 2020

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