Remembering Paris Johnson and Martyn Thompson.

At the Barbican. Photo By Reynaldo Trombetta. Paris is at the far right of the photo

It has been a sad time for the Choir. As director, I get to know people very well who come regularly to choir. Often if people come early, we share a cuppa and talk about life. Even when people leave, I get updates, emails and correspondence from those that have enjoyed the choir in the past. So it is easy to become fond of people who join the Choir. This was the case with Paris Johnson and Martyn Thompson, both of whom passed recently.  Both ex members of the Choir were funny, creative and really up for trying new experiences. Both Paris and Martyn gave a lot to the Choir whilst they were attending. Paris left the Choir to pursue a degree in Art and Martyn left to go and live in Spain where he made a new life for himself. Both had a love for the Creative Arts. I taught Paris Singing at the Mary Ward Centre before he joined the London Lucumi Choir. I then followed his progress as he dedicated time to being an artist,which I know he wanted to pursue for a long time. I met Martyn when he was in the Singology Choir. We also knew people in common as he played Saxophone with a band called “the Sputniks”. He came up and asked about the Lucumi Choir and then subsequently joined. He was a talented musician, and a poet and a wonderful photographer who I paid tribute to here on this Blog.  He was very involved with the Choir for a couple of years and really had an amazing community spirit. He came up to Manchester when we recorded our first CD and was fully involved in the recording process.  Both members wished to carry on the connection once they had left. Martyn often talked about bringing the Choir to Spain and coming back to sing with us. Paris invited us to play at  his end of term show last year. Both things sadly never happened. It is a reminder not to put things off and to really live the moment. I would like to take the opportunity to remember both Paris and Martyn:  Paris was involved in recording our first Demo, he was on stage at the Barbican when we Supported Eliades Ocha, He was also onstage during our involvement of the Cuba 50 Festival and he was very important when we presented our debut of “Time and the Trickster by Juwon Ogungbe” in December 2009. Martyn was very involved in the Choir until we recorded and released our very first album in 2012. He helped me a lot in the couple of self promotional gigs that we did at the Tufnell Park Tavern, also around Christmas Time. It is nice that he was involved in the recording of our very first album “Un solo Palo”

Martyn recorded on this CD



Mary Ward World Choir with Paris Johnson

Photos of  Gigs that Paris Johnson Attended

Recording in Bury. The first three photos are by Martyn Thompson


Martyn in action: relaxing with the Choir, playing the the Sputniks and recording in Bury

We dedicate the next two gigs to Paris and to Martyn. We play at the Clore Ballroom 9th December at 5.30pm and underneath Eros’s Statue in Piccadilly Circus on the 18th December a 4pm

About oshunschild 24 Articles
I am a London based Iyalosha, ( Priest in the Lucumi tradition) crowned with Ochun; who is passionate about the arts I Grew up in London, mixed background, third generation musician. I went to study music in Cuba in 1986, since then I have done many things. I was one of the first Salsa Dance Teachers in London in 1989, before it became the sport of a million suburban housewives; formed Orchestra Salsa Y Ache in late 80's, toured and did many gigs for seven years; then formed Salsasonica which recorded with Buena Vista's Guajiro Mirabal. I have taught Cuban Music to children. I have also organised five musical trips to Cuba. I Have written about Latin Music, and I am passionate about singing and encouraging everyone to sing. I formally ran "singing for the terrified" at the Mary Ward Centre, in addition to a world music choir. I formed the London Lucumi Choir in 2006 which has performed all over the UK, in major theatres such as the Barbican, the Southbank and Union Chapel, Rich Mix, The British Museum and the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. In addition, we have performed at festivals such as La Linea and Bestival. We have performed on Radio and Television and have consistently been nominated in the Lukas awards, where we were second in our category in 2018 ( for contribution to Latin Music and Arts). I Have been a practitioner of Santeria, also known as Lucumi since 1986. Between the years 1991 and 2005 I received My Elekes, Warriors and Olokun. In 2005 I received my Ikofafun ( Ifa) and on February 9 2006 I became initiated as a Priestess of Ochun in Luyano, Havana. My Branch of the religion is La Pimienta. I was born from Obatala and Yemaya. My Iyatobi Oshainle passed this year and Omi Laibo is my Ojubona. I received Pinardo with Baba Funke and Omi Saide in Havana in July 2018. I run an active Ile (religious house/Orisha temple) In addition to running the Choir and guiding Godchildren in the Lucumi faith. I am also a diviner of the Dilogun. I enjoy spending time with my family. I have a passion for art and nature, good music, genealogy and travel. I enjoy writing, beading and embroidery, when I have the time! PS I also have adhd which predicts that I will decorate the entire house with different colours every few years!