The national creative and cultural community is mourning the death of publicist, marketing strategist, singer and mentor Janine Charles-Farray at the age of 39 on Saturday.
She was regarded as a friend and mentor by many who knew her. She was known as a fierce advocate for all forms of the arts and the creative industry.
Charles-Farray was involved in every aspect of everything creative in TT – from film to animation to dance to fashion to visual arts to theatre to music to mas to Carnival and beyond. Those posting tributes to her on social media described her as a mentor and friend who wasn’t afraid to give constructive criticism, advice, and assistance.
The T&T Performing Arts Network said on Saturday it was with a heavy heart that it announced the death of one of its founding board members, a true gladiator, champion, ambassador for the creative and cultural arts in TT, a mentor and a friend.
The National Drama Association of TT expressed shock and grief. In a release, its president Safa Niamat-Ali said Charles-Farray was one of the few marketing specialists who specialised in the arts. She said Charles-Farray was instrumental in collaborating with NDATT in spearheading several initiatives for practitioners during the pandemic.
“The then Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts created the cultural relief grants because she spearheaded the effort to include creative and cultural workers as self employed to benefit from the grants.
“She understood the challenges faced by arts associations, organisations and groups and would give free advice and ideas to help them and steer them in directions that we wouldn't or couldn't think of. I don’t know if anyone could fill the void that now exists.”
Long-time friend Rachael Collymore, who runs PR and talent consulting agency Power Media Hub, said Charles-Farray was a colleague and creative industry professional and advocate, and much more.
“She was also a very dear and close friend, confidante, a sister from another mother, and ally. Over a decade of friendship, we developed a natural partnership between our businesses, collaborating on many projects as marketing strategist and publicist in the creative sector.
“We often discussed matters concerning the creative sector. It was only a few days ago we spoke at length about the changing landscape, while discussing plans for future collaborations in 2023. It saddens me to know she is no longer here and I would not be able to reason with her, seek her advice, or hear her voice and spirited conversation.”
FilmTT said it was deeply saddened.
“Janine was a fiercely passionate professional who strongly advocated for the arts and the creative industries in TT. Janine’s legacy will live on through her numerous projects for film, music, fashion and dance. As we reflect on her stellar career, we will particularly remember her hard work and commitment towards the film/tv marketing and promotions.”
Charles-Farray was also well known as a singer, performing with the Lydians Chorale since the age of 13 and up until her death. She was also a former board member and communications officer. The chorale said it was with great sadness that it learned of her sudden demise.
“Janine was a wonderful person, an amazing performer, a talented, gifted strategist and a passionate advocate for and supporter of the arts. We will miss her dearly.
"On behalf of the board, management and all members of The Lydians, we would like to offer our deepest and sincerest condolences to her mother, Marva De Freitas Charles (Aunty Marva) and to her family, as we keep them in our prayers.”
Former minister of culture and the arts Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly also has fond memories of Charles-Farray.
“I met Janine when I joined the Lydians in, I think, 2014. Her voice set her easily apart... rich, deep and delivered with her characteristic gusto and fervour. A warm, enthusiastic person, with a big heart. She always made her presence felt, and was a positive driving force for the arts. Janine will certainly be missed.”
A profile written for Queen’s Hall in 2020 said Charles-Farray was certified in film commission fundamentals by the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI), had a masters degree in marketing from the UWI/Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of New Brunswick, Canada, and was also a freelance entertainment news writer.
In addition to her academic background, Charles-Farray offered a wide range of support services in her marketing consultancy Black Collar Creative Ltd.
She worked with many brands including Meiling Inc, Freetown Collective, Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO), the Caribbean Academy of Fashion and Design (UTT), the T&T Animation Network (TTAN), the TT Film Company (TTFC), Alias Entertainment Expo, TT Performing Arts Network, the Metamorphosis Dance Company Ltd, Banyan Ltd, Golden Chord Management, Closet Red Plus Size Boutique, the TT Opera Festival (Picoplat Music Development Foundation), QED.TT - Quite Exquisitely Done, Gayelle The Channel (Gayelle Caribbean TV) and JCS Entertainment Ltd.
Poet and writer Shivanee Ramlochan said, “Our industry is full of people who talk you up nice, but Janine's praise never, not once, felt gratuitous. When she was for you, she was for you.
“She celebrated our plays. She celebrated our words. She celebrated our art. She celebrated our music, and oh how she embodied it too.
“Janine abides, in the place she loved and gave so much of her spirit, brilliance, passion and ingenious fire to fuelling. She's in our steelpan, in our Carnival, in our extempo, in our voices raised in song. I will never forget how she loved us.”