RIP Denver 'Feluké' Smith - Placed in the Hands of God
09/06/2020 by Gardy Stein
RIP DENVER SMITH March 24, 1977 - September 5, 2020
When I first met Denver Smith aka Feluké for an interview five years ago in the Big Yard Studio in Kingston, I was extremely impressed by his calm strength, his confidence and his smiling congeniality. This amazing personality developed despite (or maybe because) of the trials he has been through as a child, left by his mother when he was a toddler, growing up with relatives who kicked him out at age 10, living on the streets for a while before being placed in Alpha Boys School... All these experience led him to adopt and embrace the name Feluké, the meaning of which he explained to me thus: "Feluké literally means ‘placed in the hands of God’, it’s from Nigeria. For me, it’s a name that connects with me spiritually based on the fact that I’ve been through it (...)."
Just when he was about to blossom into a full-fledged solo-artist, he was confronted with the diagnosis of cancer. Determined to overcome this obstacle as he had so many others, he started a fundraiser in 2017 to undergo alternative methods of treatment in Mexico for two months. The results were promosing, as two of the three tumors disappeared, and a benefit concert was staged to raise money to pay for the surgery intending to remove the final one.
But alas, the battle was lost. According to Loop Jamaica, Feluké died during the next step of his treatment in Mexico. He is now, really and truly, placed in the hands of God.
Denver "Feluké" Smith leaves us a musical legacy that goes far beyond his actual releases, including Musically Disturbed in 2012 (released under his former artist name Denver D), several singles and collaborations and, probably his greatest achievment, the EP Insight released in 2018 with producer Llamar "RiffRaff" Brown. Feluké has been actively enriching musical performances of Jimmy Cliff, Luciano and Gentleman (MTV Unplugged DVD & Tour) as percussionist, advising Etana, Ky-Mani Marley and Jah Cure as musical director and contributing to Stephen Marley's albums Mind Control (Acoustic) and Revelation Pt. 1. Most of all, he brought a spirit of love and respect to any circle he entered, a vision of a better world in which everyone is valued and respected: "That’s one of my aims in life, to teach humanity. Because right now (...) we are more into the lifestyle than humanity, and that’s one of my dreams to really teach love and acceptance of humanity. Every single person is beautiful in their own right, and every person has their own energy and spirit to pass on." (Interview with Feluké, 2015)
Life is short, people. Keep your souls alive, as Feluké says in his song Soul Alive. [Watch the video below]
Hector Lewis aka Roots Percussionist: "To My Mentor, You are one of the strongest, brightest, most gifted human beings I have ever known. Thank you for everything that you taught me and given to me selflessly in this lifetime. Your endless and world-class talent as a singer, songwriter and musical director were only outclassed by your role as a father, brother and friend to so many in Jamaica and around the world. Even through our ups and downs, we never lost the love and admiration for each other as brothers. I am who I am today because you saw the light in me long before I could see it in myself. Words will never truly express how your influence, your kindness, your encouragement and your generosity have changed my life for the greater good. Your legacy lives, iternally because you have shaped the lives of so many. Jah know. Sleep well now Denver D Feluke Smith... Jamaica’s Original Pioneer in Multi-Percussion."
Gentleman: "I still can‘t believe it! Why is it, that the good one’s always leave so early? Thank you for your kind energy and your incredible vibes. You‘ll be missed, Rest In Peace my Brother!" ⠀
Duane Stephenson: "Until our next show in heaven bro... may you find peace in the other venture."
Sherieta : "A fighter to the end... few humans I've ever come across as strong as you. All I Know for sure is, cancer get some bitch lick from you bredda. Walk good till such time, bro. Love you forever and a day."