Fitzroy Williams Planned for Life after Music
In many ways Fitzroy Williams, the Cadence music icon, is unique. He has mastered the organ and has made music his life-long profession but, most strikingly, he began planning his retirement when he was just a tiny boy. No, I'm not pulling your leg. Is there anyone in the music world that you know who is like Fitzroy Williams?
"Since I was a little boy I managed my music life," Fitzroy told the Sun in an exclusive interview recently. "Like right now I'm on pension from my music, I have a salary; I don't have to play music now. I'm living on my music and that's something you have to be organised to do.
"When I started organising that as a young man certain guys thought I was mad. Remember you are your own boss, so you have to make sure your social security is paid, you have to make sure your pension fund is paid, you have to make sure… you understand?"
Yes, we understand. But Fitzroy, where did you learn that at such a tender age? "Must be my Mom and them; all the musicians I know are exactly the opposite."
Early on in life Fitzroy learnt that he had to organise his life and life itself was much more than just playing music.
"You have to have a plan; you have to have a vision; you have to decide what you want to do because there are a lot of sacrifices to be made," he said.
Today Fitzroy has not only a made a life for himself in France, he also built his home in Dominica where he spends ten months out of twelve.
"I didn't go out there to live; I went out there to play music. I didn't know whether I'd make money but I decided that Dominica is my home," he said.
In the meantime Fitzroy Williams toured the world, playing the music he loved; but he always returned home. "I played with a lot of strange bands- when you live in Europe you play with everybody. I played with South Africans, Congolese; I played with Cape Verdeans… and toured all over the world.
" I played with Jimmy Cliff and toured with him; I backed up Sparrow… these are the persons I know you are familiar with but I played with so many people all over the world that you may not know… I played in French speaking Africa, North America, Canada and the US; I played in a set of little islands in the Indian Ocean like the Seychelles and Mauritius. I play in these places all the time and I'm still doing that."
He is now 63 years old, so he has been playing music professionally for more than 40 years. He's done nothing else.
"I'm glad I can sit down at my home now," he said.
During those forty years he produced five albums and wrote many hit songs.
"People don't know, but I wrote songs that I can never stop making money out of- for Exile One. Since Gordon is the lead singer, people don't know it's my song he's singing sometimes.
"Like Mwem Twavai Pou Ayen that is a song the French islands use in school to teach children about slavery. There's Fraiche, that's a song so many different people re-do that song. It's my song," he said.
And the French copyright company, Société des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs de musique (SACEM), that he joined in 1975, has been good to him.
"I have a pension from them. I wasn't officially on pension but the amount of money I made in my lifetime they themselves put aside for me. That I have till death, apart from the amount I make when my music plays. I have a sure salary till death. But you have to plan it," he said.
Fitzroy Williams is not only a master musician; he has built a network of contacts all over the world, musicians who, in his own words, "give me work"; mainly because of his professionalism.
"I'll tell you one thing, I'm never late for anything," he said, and he proved that by being bang on time for this interview. "And the whole world knows that, people I work with know that they can depend on me. When I tell you yes, and we agree you will pay me twenty dollars, another man can offer me five hundred, pa la, pa la."
What then could we write on Fitzroy's tombstone? What about: "Here lies a Cadence musician who lived by his skills and died with his reputation."