– Trellis-Burnette keeping rich tradition of music in New Amsterdam alive
VERSATILE singer Colette Trellis-Burnette describes herself as “a born and bred New Amsterdamer” with music in her bones.
And, she sure is, as her mellifluous voice has allowed her to share on multiple occasions the pulpit of all of the 25 odd multi-denominational churches in the Berbice township.
Whether it was a wedding ceremony, funeral service, anniversary celebration or voice-training sessions, she is there when called upon and even at short notice.
Trellis-Burnette, as she is respectfully called, joined her mentor Edith Pieters, who, along with her sister Marjorie Barry and Annie Rambarran and Norma Romalho, just to name a few of the ‘locals’, whose musicianship has left an indelible mark in the history of Guyana’s oldest township, New Amsterdam, a place where everyone knows everyone.
She was born to Dorothy and David Trellis, both deceased, the latter of whom was a leading tenor singer in the New Amsterdam Musicians Society (NAMS) and All Saints Anglican Church choirs.
The NAMS choir was adjudged, one of many champions at British Guiana‘s First Festival of Music in the early 50s.
“Coming from a musical background… it was a natural thing for me to fall in love with singing. My brother Pastor Dennis Trellis was keen in imparting vigorously, the discipline of singing, which required daily commitment of breathing and physical exercises, vocalising and practising,” she said.
But it was Mezzo Soprano vocalist, Edith Pieters, who brought her into the limelight after she was taken to the renowned singer by her grandmother.
While her gifting made room for her at national and regional events, it was her love for service that prompted her to help others to develop musical minds.
As a result, voice-training sessions were birthed first at my local church, the Seventh Day Adventist, and thereafter, to all the other denominations with the exception of the Jehovah Witnesses in New Amsterdam. Sessions were also held at locations in Central and Upper Corentyne.
“Music enhances worship. Music raises a person’s mood. It can get them calm and relaxed or excited. It allows us to experience almost all the emotions in our lives,” she posited.
Since the commencement of her voice-training sessions, hundreds were trained in the various singing techniques, including her own son Calvin Burnette, who shot to fame after placing second in the GTT Jingle and song competition in 2009.
“Be observant of your lyrics,” she advised. Make sure the selections are people-friendly. Avoid beats which supersede songs. Instrumentals accompany vocals, it’s not vice versa. I prefer the A cappella (a group or solo performance without instrumental accompaniment). Finally, be yourself. There can never be another you,” the humble singer said.
Trellis-Burnette seeks to leave a legacy of service, which generations yet to be born, would appreciate and try to maintain the rich musical legacy of New Amsterdamers.