by: Azaleta Ishmael-Newry
Published in Profiles98 Magazine | Fall Issue 2011
T-Connection, a premier Bahamian band whose members hailed from Nassau and Freeport was formed in 1973, the same year Bahamas attained Independence. They rose to International fame in the US and UK however, since disbanding in the 80’s, they had only returned home on a few occasions for some cherished performances.
Their most recent concert took place at the end of May at the Wyndham Crystal Place Resort and Casino which was set up for 1700 guests. Over 2000 fans showed up at the venue. but. This “Reconnection” concert was brought to Nassau through the courtesy of the Class of 1971 of St. Augustine’s College (SAC) as a fundraiser for SAC.
Dignitaries, Government ministers, business and community leaders as well as a wide cross section of Bahamians experienced a magnificent, non-stop show that was led by Theopilus Coakley who founded T-Connection. The band was named after his favourite movie, “The French Connection.” They thrilled the enthuiastic audience with songs like, ‘Paradise,’ ‘Best of My Love’ and ‘Goombay Time.’
Considered one of the most talented Bahamian songwriters, vocalists and keyboard players, Theopilus Coakley formed a powerful band which included his brother Kirk on bass guitar and as backup vocals, Berkley Van Byrd on drums and back up vocals, Monty Brown on guitar and vocals and Anthony (Monks) Flowers on drums and percussion. A few years later, in the late 70’s Freeport’s David (Dave) Mackey joined in on guitar but he was also a songwriter and in the early 80’s, Mackey’s song, ‘Everything is Cool’ peaked at number 10 on the R&B chart. Mackey’s talents did not stop there as he also helped engineer the band’s final album, ‘Take It To The Limit.’
T-Connection played until 1984 but constant air play of their music over the years kept their songs in the forefront including a 2002 compilation called ‘Classic Masters: Everything is Cool’ and a limited edition CD titled, ‘Totally Reconnected’ that was available at the 2011 concert.
Historically, they had became a household name with their 1977 Grammy nominated hit ‘Do What You Wanna Do’ that was number 1 for 8 consecutive weeks. They also had other hits that included ‘At Midnight’, ‘Saturday Night”, A Little More Love’ and ‘Girl Watching.’
Ample exposure on US TV shows like Soul Train and American Band Stand as well as on TV specials where they performed with Donna Summer, the Bee Gees and Village People increased their popularity. They also performed with The Isley Brothers, (William Earle) Bootsy Collins and another great soul and funk band in the history of music, The Average White band. Further fame was realized in the UK where they had a huge following and were on a UK TV show called “Top Of The Pops!”
The uniqueness of T-Connection’s music explained Theopilus Coakley was due to the fact that they had blended the sound of Bahamian Junkanoo and Goombay rhythm into their songs as well as Disco, Funk, Jazz, R&B and Rock. Including the fact that Monks who he felt was one of the greatest percussionists around, created the famous drum break that so many others emanated.
At the Reconnection concert, T-Connection opened their set with ‘Take it To the Limit’ that was written by Theo and Kirk Coakley. These talented Bahamian musicians played non-stopped, by the midnight hour, they ended the concert with their famous song, ‘At Midnight’ but were called back for an encore to which they sang ‘Bahamian Rhapsody’ and ‘Best of My Love.’
T-Connection has reconnected a lot of fond memories for their fan base. Although many of the players have their separate careers, there have been discussions that they will reunite again in The Bahamas by 2014, hopefully in time for the birthday celebrations of Bahamian Independence and of the band’s creation.