Cebert Barrington (Barry) Edwards

1949-1917

Barry Edwards, a tenor, keyboardist, and conductor, was a music educator who taught in both the Seventh-day Adventist and public school systems for thirty years.

Barry was born in Morant Bay, St. Thomas, Jamaica, West Indies, on August 21, 1949, one of four sons of Cebert F. and Amiee Maude Folkes Edwards. His father was an SDA pastor in the East Jamaica Conference, and his mother was a talented amateur musician who provided a spiritual and musical childhood. As the young boy's voices matured, she organized him and his brothers into a quartet that sang at local church concerts and on the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) television station.

When the family moved to Kingston, Barry attended Kingsway High School, excelling in math and science. Dreaming of being an engineer, he enrolled at West Indies College in 1967, where he studied math and science and participated in music ensembles. Following graduation two years later with an associate degree, he taught math at Kingsway for one year before enrolling at Hartt College of Music in Hartford, Connecticut, as a voice major. His brothers, who were attending Andrews University at the time, persuaded him to enroll at AU where he attended from 1975 to 1977, completing both B.Mus. and M.Mus. degrees in voice performance and conducting.

While at AU he was recognized as an accomplished singer and sang in the university's choral ensembles.  He was featured as a soloist in major chorale works, including Handel's Messiah, Haydn's Creation, Mendelssohn's Elijah, and Dubois' Seven Last Words, as well as in a Christmas production, "The Stingiest Man in Town."     

In 1977 he returned to Jamaica to teach at West Indies College as an assistant professor in music history and director of the Meistersingers, the fine arts chorale, a position he held for the next three years. In 1978 he returned to Berrien Springs and married Karleen M. Rennalls who had just completed a B.S. degree.  She returned with him to WIC to serve as public relations officer for the school. 

At this time Barry and his brother Donnie and two other singers revived the college's historic Heralds male quartet, a group which continued for forty years. The original quartet was formed in 1966, specifically to accompany H.M.S. Richards, Jr., when he conducted meetings in the Central Jamaica Conference churches. Richards dubbed that quartet, "The King's Heralds - Jamaica Brand."

In 1980, Barry and his family moved to Long Island, New York, when he accepted a position as chair of the music program at Greater New York Academy in Woodside, New York. Five years later, he began working as a music educator with the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Education, Long Island, New York, eventually creating and implementing music lessons and programs for emotionally and physically challenged students that satisfied New York State Learning Standards.

He and his wife continued to strive for educational excellence as he completed advanced studies in school building and school district administration at Long Island University, earned a second master's degree, and an advanced certificate in Educational Technology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Karleen continued her education, completing an M.A. at New York University and eventually becoming Associate Dean for Educational Services at Hofstra University's School of Education. She also served as accreditation reviewer of teacher education programs for the New York State Board of Regents.

Barry and Karleen had retired and were living in Cape Coral, Florida, when he died on January 19, 2017, at age 67.  He is survived by his wife, and their four children, Christopher, Kester, Jeremy, and Melissa Edwards-Adeyeye and her husband Felix; a daughter-in-law Shawna; two granddaughters, Sophia and Bria (named for Barry); two siblings; and a large extended family.

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Sources: IAMA biographical information sheet completed by Karleen Edwards; Obituary for Mr. Cebert Barry Edwards, www.fortmyersmemorial.com; Focus, Andrews University alumni magazine, Winter 2005, 32 (Karleen); Alumni Directory Today, 2013, A99, A122.