A leading Vincentian calypsonian in Brooklyn has paid a very special tribute to Ulric Jones, Jr., popularly known as “Soca Jones,” a prominent Vincentian entertainment promoter in Brooklyn and co-founder and vice chairman of the massive Vincy Day USA picnic that is held annually on the third Saturday in August, at Heckscher State Park in East Islip, Long Is.
Jones died on Friday, May 8, after briefly battling pancreatic cancer, his relatives said. He was 53.
Denis Bowman — a perennial finalist in the Calypso Monarch Competition in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for Vincy Mas, the national carnival, and public relations officer of the Brooklyn-based Dynamites Calypson Tent, the lone Vincentian calypso tent in North America – told Caribbean Life over the weekend that Jones would have loved “True Champion – Tribute to Soca Jones.”
“It’s a song he would have loved very much,” said Bowman, who penned, sang and created a video on “True Champion – Tribute to Soca Jones”, to the tune of one of the hits of Trinidad and Tobago’s calypso icon, Baron.
“The hook allows a perfect play on Soca (Jones) himself, and he loved working along with Caribbean artistes,” added Bowman, a former lead vocalist with the Vincentian bands, Energy, Blaksand and X-tract.
“Soca Jones was a people’s man; he was continuously involved in all Vincy activities – be it sporting, cultural, educational, etc.; in all aspects of Vincy life, both at home and in the Diaspora; and he was definitely an ambassador for SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines),” continued Bowman, who won the 1997 Vincy Soca Monarch title with “Voom, Voom.”
“Soca (Jones) was an individual whose contributions were felt and appreciated, and would leave a massive void to fill,” he said. “Given his indomitable spirit, he would not be easy to replace. And for many years to come, that void, created by his absence, will surely be felt.”
In introducing “True Champion – Tribute to Soca Jones,” Bowman described the entertainment promoter as “a true patriot,” adding: “I personally would like to thank you for all the kind words of encouragement that you’ve offered me.”
For the lyrics, Bowman sings partially: “Soca Jones, you’re a true Vincy champion/We love the way how you embrace the Soca Land/Rain or sun, you are always representing/In many ways, you are more than a Soca King/
“Such a champion, you are the real Soca Man,” he sings. “Always willing and ready to lend a hand/You have touched many lives in our nation/All ah Vincy thank you for your contribution/Soca, you love your people/You love St. Vincent and the Grenadines with all your heart/And like Fya Empress say, ‘You’re a true, true Vincy.’”
Sharon “Sha Sha” Jones, Jones’s only sister, who helped took care of him during his last weeks, at her home in the Canarsie section of Brooklyn, announced his passing on Facebook, the social media platform.
Jones, who was born on Jan. 18, 1967, had announced on the same medium on March 21 that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer and that his doctor had told him that the cancer had spread to his liver.
“I can assure you that I’m not going to give up and give in,” he said then. “I’m going to fight as hard and as much as I can.
“I might be down, but I’m not out,” he added. “Those of you who know me well know that ‘De Soca Man’ aint going out just so, but I need your strength and support also.”
Stating that “there has also been an overwhelming expression of the desire to help” and “per the suggestion of many,” Sharon Jones announced on Facebook on April 28 that “we have created a ‘Gofundme’ account, which will serve to satisfy this request and desire of many.”
On Saturday morning, despite the implementation of social distancing in New York, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, hundreds Vincentians in the United States lined the short block on Church Avenue and East 95th Street in Brooklyn to pay their last respect to their “hero,” as they awaited the hearst, carrying his body, and the motorcade.
East 95th Street and Church Avenue, considered the hub of Vincentian entertainment in Brooklyn, was frequented by Jones. In earlier years, he served as Master of Ceremonies in the pre-Labor Day Vincy Carnival jam.
Jones’s younger brother, Nekes Jones, posted on Facebook that the body will be returned to St. Vincent and the Grenadines “for his final rights — the date of which will be determined and announced at a later time.”
“The motorcade will be passing (NOT stopping) [at] the intersection of Church Ave. and E. 95th St. at 9:05 a.m.,” Nekes Jones said. “You are free to join the motorcade at that point, as we travel to Queens (John F. Kennedy International Airport), where he will be taken for his final trip home to St. Vincent.
“We thank you for your kind cooperation in this regard, and also for your continued love, support and prayers for the Jones family,” he added.
Bowman said “tremendous sadness” has gripped him because of his “personal friendship” with Soca Jones “and for what he meant to the cultural sustenance of SVG, again both at home and in the Diaspora.”
He said “True Champion – Tribute to Soca Jones” is “definitely not for sale.
“The public can listen to this tribute on YouTube, Facebook, etc., social media,” Bowman said.