LEFT: Tito Lara's wife Ivy with a family member
March 05, 2009
Hundreds of people turned up in Santa Cruz as family, friends and members of the Parang fraternity came out to pay tribute to Parang pioneer Tito Lara, founding member of the legendary Lara Brothers Parang group who passed away on the 27th of February 2009, at the ripe age of 81 years. For decades, Tito Lara and the Lara Brothers Parang group have given the nation sterling Parang music, and have remained rooted in what some Parang aficionados see as the authentic Parang tradition.
The Procession through the streets of Santa Cruz
Family members, Parang groups and friends gathered at the home of the Lara family in Santa Cruz before the procession bearing the body of Tito Lara made its way slowly through the streets of Santa Cruz to the Santa Cruz R.C. Church and Cemetery. It was sweet Parang music that pulsated through the procession as Tito's brother, Willy Lara, 80, the last Lara brother alive, and fellow members of the Lara Brothers' group led the street procession playing the music Tito loved the most, through the streets of his hometown.
Members of the Lara Brothers paranging through the streets of Santa Cruz
The all-male Lara Brothers group have been playing Parang music for over 60 years and have recorded numerous songs in the Parang genre. Originally four brothers, Victor, Antonio, Willie and Tito, Willie remains the only surviving Lara in the band and he is intent on carrying on the legacy of traditional Parang. Willie Lara, brother of Tito Lara said that Tito's passing is a great loss for the band as they had been together for so long. When asked how they first got involved in Parang, he answered, "Parang is a nice thing, yuh know." He reminisced on their early days paranging house to house in the days of pitch oil lamps and had to sing before the person opened the door for them.
Keisha Lara, granddaughter of Tito delivered the eulogy as she reminded the audience that he was born on April 13th 1927 to Lena Lara and Ignacio Monestero and grew up anchored in the musical traditions of his Venezuelan heritage. "He loved music with a passion until he even started making his own," she said. She further shared with the audience that, "Tito was more than just a lead singer of one of the most famous Parang bands throughout the world. To many—and when I say many, I mean many—he was known as Daddy, Daddy Tito, Uncle Tito, Papa Tito and Grandfather."
Santa Cruz R.C. Church
People reminisced on their interactions with Tito with many of them paying glowing tribute to Tito's contribution to the Parang art form. Close friend and former captain of the band, Pablo Hospedales described Tito's contribution as phenomenal as he related his fond memories of paranging house to house with Tito. "Lara brothers had a unique blend of voices, particular the vocal interaction between Willie and Tito," he said.
Tony Hinds referred to Tito as the Father of Parang as he said that the art form will never be the same with the passing of Tito. He hailed the Lara Brothers for their strong focus on the traditional essence of Parang.
Keith Bell recalled his great desire to meet the famous Lara Brothers in the 1950s as he recalled one of their passionate performances in the 1960s where they literally collapsed a stage with a dynamic and energised performance. He called on young people to use Lara Brothers’ music and understand it clearly to further the Parang art form.
Errol Mohammed, one of the founders of the National Parang Association remembered Tito as a pleasant person who made a dynamic contribution to the Parang arena. The Lara Brothers, he said, are in the same iconic class as Daisy Voisin, San Jose Serenaders and La Familia De Rio Claro.
Parang group performing at the funeral service
In the service, members of the El Cantaro Parang Group and the Lara Brothers delivered some of the popular Lara Brothers songs to the delight of the audience who clapped and sang along. The church was unable to accommodate the large number of persons who turned up, so many people remained outside, mingling and making Parang music. Present at the funeral were members of The National Parang Association, the Flores brothers, Lordrich Espinosa, Henry Periera, Ramona Granger, Pablo Hospedales as well as members of many Parang bands.
Well-wishers pay respect to Tito Lara
After the service, the crowd gathered at the adjacent cemetery, the final resting place for Tito Lara. Sweet Parang music rang through the air, as the many Parang bands paid tribute to Tito in a manner he would surely appreciate. The mandolin, marac, box bass, and tambourine blended with sweet voices and the passion and appreciation for Tito was evident in the outpouring of Parang music. It was a vibrant and colourful sending-off for this pioneer of the Parang art form.
Tito leaves behind his wife, Ivy, nine children and numerous grand and great-grand children.
Remembering Tito Lara in pictures:
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