Wendell ‘Shine’ Hayward is a truly accomplished musician. His list of career highlights stretches far and wide, seeing him perform in every corner of the globe, and affording him a thoroughly earned legend status.
Born in 1956, the sixth child of Mary and Alfred Hayward, Wendell would grow up in the Mount Hill, Pembroke area, and show a distinct ‘shine’ for music quite early on.
“I was brought up in the church, where there was lots of music, and plenty of opportunities to be involved in choirs and groups. There was always a keyboard of some sort in the house, as my mother used to play. Then there were my cousins, who were involved in marching bands; and I joined them. I guess there was no way around being pulled into the music.”
The church in question was the New Testament Church of God, where young Wendell would hone his appreciation for music in the Young People’s Choir, the Gospel Temptations, The Sons of Joy, and the Gospel Vibrations.
Music was intertwined throughout young Shine’s education as well. He attended Northlands Primary, and the Berkeley Institute, where he earned the George DaCosta silver medal in 1973. He would go on to study at Bowie State College in Maryland, the Berklee College of Music in Boston, and Harrington University in London, England before returning to Bermuda around 1980 to embark on a truly stellar career as a professional musician, and educator.
Having tasted success as a professional musician at quite a young age, Mr. Hayward found the drive to pursue his passion as a 16-year-old, in the legendary Jungle Room. Recalling the moment when he first realized that he could make a living as a professional musician, Mr. Hayward reminisces:
“This would have been after my first New Year’s Eve gig. I was about 16 years old, and with the NT’s; we played at the Jungle Room. It was so much fun – and we got paid! I believe that is what did it for me.”
Having earned a BA in Professional Music from the Berklee College of Music, Mr. Hayward was an easy selection to join the celebrated Ghandi Burgess Orchestra, which was famous for raising the roof off the prestigious Empire Room at the Southampton Princess Hotel night after night in the early 1980s.
Mr. Hayward recalls that his time with the Orchestra afforded him the opportunity to work with international stars like Frankie Avalon, Diahann Carol, Melba Moore, The Drifters, Robert Guillaume, and many others.
I actually remember when Robert Guillaume came to the Empire Room. The show was spectacular, and I was lucky enough to meet the famous actor, who was at the height of his popularity as Benson, which aired on the ABC network at the time.
What followed for Mr. Hayward was an astonishingly long list of awards, accomplishments, and celebrations. From leading the award-winning jazz ensemble, Shine Hayward ‘N’ Friends for ten years, to founding the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Bermuda after being diagnosed with the condition in 1982, to releasing two acclaimed songs – Look out for Reggae Music and Longtails (also in 1982), to forming his own production company – Danji Productions – in 1983, Mr. Hayward has consistently made moves that steered Bermuda in positive, sometimes magical, directions.
Mr. Hayward has also done a lot of work as an ambassador for Bermuda. Travelling with the Department of Tourism as they toured the United States on a promotional tour in 1989, touring Belgium, Ireland, Washington, and New York with the Department of Tourism in 2002, and proudly representing Bermuda when he played the U.S. national anthem at Fenway Park before the Red Sox vs Orioles game in 2009, are just a few of the things Mr. Hayward has done to shine a light on our small island home.
Reflecting on the aspects of Bermuda’s culture that inspire him the most, Mr. Hayward mentions the simple things that make us uniquely Bermudian:
“The way in which we celebrate; Good Friday, Sunday morning breakfasts, our Gombeys, some of our sayings, and our accents – our connections with each other.”
One other aspect of being Bermudian is our proclivity to decorate the world with nicknames, and Mr. Hayward really did get a magnificently apt nickname. ‘Shine’ is what he has done his whole life – from being named an outstanding youth by the Bermuda Jaycees, and receiving a citation from the Premier of Bermuda, Sir John Swan, in 1987, to being recognized by Queen Elizabeth II with a Certificate, and Badge of Honor in 1998 – Mr. Wendell ‘Shine’ Hayward has earned his uniquely Bermudian nickname more thoroughly than most!
Still as humble and unassuming as ever, Mr. Hayward is reluctant to accept the designation of ‘culture creator’:
“I have never thought of myself in that way, and have not embraced that as a fact. I just do what I do – but I am always conscious of doing my best.”
His best has been transformative for Bermuda. He is an astonishingly accomplished musician, a wonderful ambassador, a tireless educator, and a legendary performer.
Mr. Hayward has taught at various schools throughout Bermuda, including Warwick Academy and the Bermuda School of Music, he has served as Education Officer for the Arts at the Ministry of Education, he has been honored with a Certificate of Excellence Award for best entertainer/performer from the Visitor Industries Partnership, 2005, and he has done all of this while beating Multiple Sclerosis, which was determined to be inactive in 2002.
Perhaps the most enduring part of Mr. Hayward’s legacy, however, will be the amazing children he gave to the world. Nadanja and Nishanthi Bailey are both forces of nature, and this is not something Mr. Hayward wants you to forget!
“My legacy can be seen within my children, and their children – as well as students … that I helped to develop. Also, as I am a recorded artist, my legacy is within my music, and people that I might have done something musically special for. Although my children – of whom I am very proud – are not known musicians, they are known artists, and perform at a very high standard.”