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‘Outta Sight’ makes final curtain call

  • Uplifting people: veteran musician and activist Cleveland “Outta Sight” Simmons (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A veteran grassroots activist and musician will perform a farewell concert at the weekend before he moves to Britain.

Cleveland “Outta Sight” Simmons, 77, said that he will have a free concert with his band, the Bermuda Legends, before he flies out on Tuesday to be closer to his family.

He explained: “My family and my grandchildren have settled in England, and they’ve asked me to join them.”

He added: “It goes without saying, but I’m honoured to join them.”

Mr Simmons, a veteran musician and promoter who set up the Bermuda Island Entertainment Agency, said he wanted to use the concert as a way to lift the spirits of the public after months of coronavirus lockdown.

He added: “We’re worried that people might act out because they’ve been stuck inside for so long. Music is the way to soothe the beast, so we want to give something that will uplift the people of Bermuda.”

Mr Simmons said that he wanted to spend some time in Britain before he decided if he would stay for good.

But he added that, if he did move abroad on a permanent basis, he would return to Bermuda for musical performances — some of which are already booked.

Mr Simmons said: “I’ll have two jobs in Bermuda — one is for the end of September when the new governor comes in and then I have a job for around Christmastime.”

He added that he planned to use his time in Britain to build a foothold for his agency so Bermudian musicians could perform abroad and that he also planned to bring British talent to the island.

Mr Simmons said: “We have many young talented people here in Bermuda and I think this would be a good way to build communication overseas.”

Mr Simmons is one of members of the Young Progressives group, which was established in 1969 to tackle racial and social problems on the island.

He made submissions to the Pitt Commission, set up after the 1977 riots to investigate the racial and social tensions behind the unrest, the worst in the island’s history.

Mr Simmons organised the Woodshop Programme in 1995 to help former prison inmates learn social and work skills to ease their transition back to society.

The programme was expanded into the Woodshop Plus Programme in 1998 to offer academic and trade skill classes at a centre in St George’s. The scheme closed in 2001.

Mr Simmons has also worked for organisations such as the Black Alliance, a charity that designed to foster creativity and artistic talent in young people.

Mr Simmons was involved in the organisation of several community programmes and charity drives, many of which were aimed at improving the lives of disadvantaged young black people.

He has also been involved in several efforts to expand social and economic opportunities in his North Hamilton neighbourhood.

Mr Simmons has performed with the Furbert Brothers and the Arpeggios, as well as with his own band.

He earned the nickname “Outta Sight” in the 1960s for his performances of the James Brown song Out of Sight at the old Rosebank Theatre on Bermudiana Road in Hamilton.

The performances would end with him disappearing into a pit on stage and landing on a mattress. Mr Simmons was also a promoter for Communications Plus, designed to give Bermudian performers opportunities at home and abroad, and helped promote talent shows such as Bermuda Teens Have Talent Too.

He retired from full-time activism in 2016, aged 73, when his doctor ordered him to step down and look after his own health.

The concert will take place on the corner of Victoria Street and Court Street in Hamilton from 7pm to 9pm on Sunday.