Fr. Ho Lung & Friends
In 1971, Fr. Richard Ho Lung discovered Bart Hopkins, an ethno-musicologist and a guitarist, at the Harvard University. Both of them fell passionately in love with Caribbean music and rhythm that made them go back to Jamaica and start up a little band of exceptionally talented musicians like Mark McLaughlin, Lee Martin, and Jonathan Burke who formed the first historic trio named “Fr. Ho Lung and Friends. These pioneers emerged successfully in the realm of the music industry in 1974 when the song “Sinner” became a jukebox hit. This initial achievement was followed by their first Long Playing Album “Sister Song” which featured the group’s first female counterparts in the person of Darcy Tulloch, Marva Roper and Rose Cameron.
The success of Father Richard’s first LP paved the way to his second masterpiece “Missa Vitae” in 1975 which was an original compilation of liturgical songs made famous up till this present times. In 1976, the group began their international career performing in Canada with their concert “Celebration of Life”. It was indeed so successful that Fr. Richard began blending his music with dramatic arts. This new inspiration gave way to yet another block buster musicale “Ruby” in 1977 which starred John Jones and Joy Lindsay at the Little Theatre. The Saga of Fr. Ho Lung and Friends began to flourish rapidly after “Ruby”. Musicals like “Yes” (1979) and “Sound of Christmas” (1980) earned both local and international admiration. The group began their expeditions overseas receiving innumerable invitations to perform both in religious and social gatherings.
In 1982, two musically- talented brothers, Jon and Wynton Williams, joined Fr. Ho Lung Friends. Both of them were energetic and endowed with exceptional skills as arrangers, musicians, and singers. The group began to mature and to grow in number in the 80’s. Their initial milestone in the fields of music and theatre arts began to be more and more proficient. The series of concerts like: Listen Man and In Jamaica (1987); Make a Joyful Noise and David (1989) were all jam-packed performances both in the island and overseas.
The achievements in the 90’s were even more daring and fascinating. New faces like Andrew Lawrence, Di Mario McDowell, Grace Jervis, Renee Rattray, Michelle Acquart, and Audrene Kerr were added to the group. “Rise up” marked the year 1990 for its superb performance and musical integrity written by Fr. Ho Lung and directed by Cathy Levy. In 1991, “Run Come” was a box-office hit at the Little Theatre boasting of its Christmas Theme. “Praise Him” of 1992 was just fabulous and colorful with all its fantastic theatrical effects. Who could forget the play “Sugar Cain” in 1993? The musical was just so touching that many of the audience left Little Theatre with tears in their eyes.
The Mid-90’s became another turning point in the history of Fr. Ho Lung and Friends. Prof. Alwyn Bully became the group’s talented director. He did “The Rock” in 1994 which was an unforgettable production on the life of St. Peter portrayed exceptionally by John Jones. It was followed by another award-winning performance – “Worship” – Fr. Ho Lung’s first Opera in 1995. At this point in history, Fr. Ho Lung and Friends has already won the laurel of JAMI awards for best production (David), best original composition (Praise Him) and best musical (Sugar Cain & Worship). In 1997, the staging of “Isaiah” has drawn thousands of viewers at the Little Theatre and just before the culmination of the century; Fr. Ho Lung brought back to stage the re-make of the 1997 box-office hit Ruby which run for 6 weeks from the Little Theatre to Ward Theatre.
The unfolding of the New Millennium, Year 2000, remains an open book as to the continuous growth of Fr. Ho Lung and Friends. In the course of almost 4 decades, the group has achieved an
enormous amount of success from its various series of CDs to their latest Music Video sponsored by Oregon Catholic Press. The Trio’s of the 70’s are now numbering to more than 70 singers, dancers and crew members coming from various denominations and cultural backgrounds. The backbone of the group remains unrivaled by its undying commitment to the poorest of the poor.