Grange joins growing voices heartbroken by Millie Small’s passing

Then and now Minister of Culture Olivia Grange (left) and former Prime Minister Edward Seaga (right) in conversation with Millie Small (centre) in England. Small’s young daughter Jaelee is also pictured. (Photo: Twitter @Babsy_grange)

As music lovers and Jamaicans react to the death of breakout ska sensation Millie Small, Minister of Culture Olivia Grange hailed the My Boy Lollipop singer as a trailblazer.

Grange, in her statement on Wednesday (May 6), while expressing sadness at Small’s passing, said she will forever be remembered as one of Jamaica’s great music icons.

“Millie’s story is one of resilience and the strength of the human spirit. She took the sweet with the bitter as she navigated the music industry at a time when Jamaican music and Jamaican female artistes were still new concepts to the world,” the minister contended.

“Jamaica will remain eternally grateful to Millie Small as she paved the way for Ska to explode on the world scene through numerous television appearances around the world, including the BBC’s Top of the Pops. Her unique sound attracted audiences around the world and turned attention on Jamaican music, which allowed other genres to break through internationally,” Grange added.

The iconic singer died in the United Kingdom on Tuesday at the age of 73, after suffering a stroke.

Millie Small (Photo: Twitter @MikeReadUK)

Grange had her own fond memories of Millie Small, recalling a visit she made to Island Records with former Prime Minister Edward Seaga.

Minister of Culture at the time as well, Grange noted that the Clarendon native was warm, engaging, fun-loving and bubbly; a charming woman and wonderful mother.

Small, riding on her newfound stardom with My Boy Lollipop, got to number two on the US and UK charts in 1964 and sold seven million copies.

In 2011, she was awarded the national honour of Commander of the Order of Distinction.