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Legendary Belizean singer and psychotherapist, Jenny Lovell passes

HeadlineLegendary Belizean singer and psychotherapist, Jenny Lovell passes

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Fri. June 28, 2024

Belizeans awoke to the sad news this morning that renowned singer, psychotherapist, and singing competition judge, Jennifer Lovell, 73, passed away at around 8:00 a.m. today at a friend’s home in Belmopan.

It is reported that Jennifer, commonly known as Jenny, suffered a heart attack as she was getting ready for a doctor’s appointment. Despite various attempts by paramedics to save her, she remained unresponsive.

Known for her infectious smile and the popular slogan, “I love it,” on popular TV shows produced by Channel 5, Jenny was also a counselor, an advocate for mental health and treatment for substance abuse, as well as a passionate supporter of Belizean music.

Her career spanned many decades, during which she played a role in elevating the standards of musical performance and appreciation in Belize. Born and raised in Belize City, Jenny developed a deep love for music at an early age.

Jenny’s musical career started when she became the lead singer of the local group, the Mission Singers, and she performed along with Frankie Reneau on his highly acclaimed production, Mass In Blues, where she quickly gained recognition for her vocal skills and charismatic stage presence.

However, it was her transition to the role of a judge for popular televised music competitions such as Duets, KTV, and KTV the Remix that cemented her status as a well-loved icon. Her critiques were known for being honest but loving, gaining the respect of both contestants and viewers alike.

Throughout Jenny’s career, she remained committed to speaking out on mental health and substance abuse, even teaming up with the National Drug Abuse Control Council (NDACC) for close to 15 years to draft the National Substance Abuse Policy for Belize in 2014, and serving as the lead facilitator in the Training and Certification of the Drug and Violence Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Program, PROCCER – OAS/CICAD in 2015.

“She wasn’t only seen as that figure of hope in substance abuse, but also in terms of seeing her as that trailblazer in wanting to see treatment and rehabilitation become more developed, so that more people would be able to access these services here in our country,” shared Esner Vellos, Director of NDACC.

She added, “One of the things that I’m pretty sure that Jenny would be happy in a way for us to recognize her, is to continue her legacy, to continue her work, and to ensure that every single Belizean knows that we are doing something to change the stigma towards mental health.”

Jenny’s passing has been felt by many Belizeans. Social media posts expressing condolences and sharing fond memories of the late icon have poured in from all corners of the country.

During the meeting of the House of Representatives today, the Prime Minister of Belize, Hon. John Briceño, paid tribute to Jenny, stating, “She was a national treasure. She loved singing and she loved Belize, and for this, we are a grateful nation. We thank her family for sharing Jenny with us.”

Minister of Home Affairs & New Growth Industries, Hon. Kareem Musa, added, “I want to extend my heartfelt condolences to the family of Ms. Jenny Lovell — a true icon and legend in Belize. She will surely be missed by all of us.”

Amandala reached out to one of Jenny’s dear friends and former coworkers who served as the host of the popular TV shows for which she served as judge, William Neal, who explained how surreal the moment felt when he heard of his friend’s passing.

“It’s like one of those surreal moments when you hear it, and it’s kind of you’re hoping that this is just some bad joke or something. And then everywhere, everything goes completely blurred. And people reach out, and then they want to know how. And at that point, you’re not interested in the how. There’s one fact that won’t change, and the fact is that she’s gone. And so that made a huge difference for me today,” he expressed.

Neal recounted how supportive Jenny was following his mother’s passing, and how she held his hand through it all. He described her as a great woman, who gave much of herself to many, always through love and kindness.

“She spoke her truth. And she made sure that when she spoke to you, even if it was a difficult truth, she would speak with you with kindness. She was a revolutionary and a renaissance woman; she did things where she was a pioneer. There was no path … and she was definitely one of the people who, if something did not exist, but she thought that it made perfect sense, would not only support, she would walk the road with you. And she lived through kindness to everyone,” he added.

Jenny’s death follows her mother’s death, Mama Lovell, who passed away just two months ago, back in April.

(AMANDALA Ed. Note: “Gee whiz, it’s Christmas!” Jenny Lovell burst into our musical consciousness when she performed that Carla Thomas original along with Glenn Bood & the Telegrams at a St. John’s College 6th Form Christmas dance around 1971, and that was after she had gained national attention with her performance along with the Mission Singers on Frankie Reneau’s legendary production, Mass In Blues. Nobody, except maybe Carla Thomas, could sing that song like Jenny Lovell, and she was still then a fellow Sixth Form student. Our sincere condolences to her sister, Valerie, and the rest of her family. With a personality to match her warm and melodious voice, Jenny was indeed a gem, a national treasure whose memory we will cherish. Rest in peace, sister Jenny Lovell!)

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