Veteran singer Tinga Stewart, who suffers from a debilitating illness that doctors were unable to diagnose, surprised many at the thanksgiving service for his wife Andrea, held at the New Life Assembly of God Church on Constant Spring Road on Monday. Although Tinga was grieving, she was able to walk in and out of church unaided, a feat that would have been all but impossible just a few months ago.
“My father goes for a walk. He is eating more now and has actually gained a little weight. And he’s able to hold coherent conversations with us for well over an hour,” said his relieved daughter Sandy The Gleaner. “He even went to the beach and had a good time. I can’t explain the change, but others see it too and we’re just grateful.”
Tinga, the two-time Festival Song winner and musical ambassador for Jamaica, wasn’t in the mood to give any interviews, but he was approachable and didn’t shy away from the cameras as he accepted his condolences from everyone who sent condolences to him . His teenage stepson Jvaughnie Powell – his late wife’s only child – was seen chatting to him as he sat outside.
Both Jvaughnie and his father Marlon, Andrea’s ex-husband, flew to her funeral and were listed as pallbearers.
Also in attendance from overseas were singer Glen Washington and his wife Jacky, who attended the service; Members of the local music association included Claudette Kemp, Capleton’s manager; former President of the Jamaica Federation of Musicians, Desi Young; veteran singer and graphic artist, Bagga Case; Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA) board member and widow of Gregory Isaacs, June Isaacs; drummer Bongo Herman; DiMario McDowell; Bridgette Anderson, manager of Samory I; JAVAA Joy and Blackbeard.
Tributes were paid to Andrea Stewart by her mother Sharon Williams, father Leonard Douglas Sr, friend Nieka Lewis and sister-in-law Cheryl Stewart. Another sister-in-law, Colleen Stewart, read the eulogy prepared by Sharon Boucher. She is remembered as a devoted mother, wife and sister who always looked her best and most stylish no matter what challenges she faced. Her second marriage to Tinga Stewart has been described as fairytale.
“When Andrea met Tinga Stewart it was pure magic. They were introduced by Bagga Case at a JAVAA meeting circa 2008. Tinga had an advantage because she already liked his song, In my heart. The song they made together I dont want to let you go, summarized how they felt. They were both devoted to each other, so the marriage was a natural progression. They married on September 13, 2012,” Stewart told the gathering.
Andrea Stewart died suddenly on May 5 at the University Hospital of the West Indies, St Andrew. Born on October 16, 1980, she would have celebrated her 42nd birthday this year.
A two-time winner of the Festival Song Contest, Tinga Stewart first won the event in 1974 play music and again in 1981 with Nuh Wey Nuh Betta Dan Hof. He wrote Hooray Festival with Willie Lindo for his brother Roman, who won the competition in 1975.
According to his biography on Wikipedia, Tinga’s festival success hampered his early career as he was considered a ‘festival singer’. He took part in the Reggae Sunsplash world tour in 1989, toured Japan and continued to record through the 1990s and 2000s, having since released over 200 singles. His hits include cover me, Take the time to know with ninja man, funny feeling, Rainy night in Georgiaand In my heart.