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Aloha Oe, Jimmy Borges
I am always saddened when friends, family, and icons leave this mortal existence. Losing Prince to the dangerous painkiller Fentanyl was devastating. He was an icon whose music touched us all in more ways than I can mention here. But I am particularly disturbed by the loss of a Hawaii Jazz icon named Jimmy Borges. His career as a Jazz singer here in Hawaii spans 5-plus decades, and his battle with liver cancer was lost a few days before his 81st birthday. I was more affected by his passing than Princes for one reason alone: he was a friend, my mentor. Our last conversation came when he could still speak, due to the cancer cells slowly choking off his ability to process oxygen in his lungs. I was in Walmart when the call came, and by the grace of God, the call was clear and the signal strong. He imparted to me a blessing of sorts, assuring me that he thought the world of my abilities as a singer, songwriter, performer, and humanitarian. He told me that he was proud of me, and of the woman I have become.
We shared a common bond, both having a fierce love for the only indigenously American musical form, Jazz. He encouraged me to 'sit-in' back in the 80's when I would visit him at a popular nightclub called, "Trappers". He was impressed with my ability to 'scat', vocal improv many of our kind use to uniquely identify ourselves. Jimmy was very supportive and let me on his microphone many times. He watched me in the ensuing years, as I ventured off into the land of Pop, R & B, doing-whatever-I-needed-to-do-to-survive. By the time he turned 60, I had earned the right to call him brother, as a fellow Gemini and a celebrated jazz vocalist. We were a lot alike, and by then, it was clear that we were the proverbial torch bearers of this under-appreciated genre of music.
I am in awe of having known him, and hope you are too. I loved him, and cherish the times we stood on stage together. He was an icon in my eyes and always will be hailed here in Hawaii as the best of the best. His recent sweep of 4 category wins at our prestigious Na Hoku Hanohano Awards, was a long time coming. Sadly, it happened while he was on his death-bed, and I can only imagine how proud he was to hear his name announced over and over again. Way to go, Jimmy! As I predicted in a song I wrote entitled, "Going Our With A Bang", he certainly did! Aloha Oe, Jimmy Borges. You will be missed, and always remembered!!