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WEDNESDAY'S EDITORIAL: Despite loss, the music will live on
Reginald Jarvis

~ The issue ~ Death of Reginald Jarvis

~ Our opinion ~ Jarvis Brothers, thankfully, will continue their commitment

A brother is gone, but the music isn’t dying.

Reginald Jarvis, the second of five brothers who became famous as the a cappella singing group the Jarvis Brothers, died Sunday of complications from diabetes. Loss of the 71-year-old will hit hard in his family and in an Orangeburg that has come to love the quintet, but it won’t stop the Jarvis Brothers.

That’s the promise of oldest brother Ulysses Jarvis.

“The Jarvis brothers circle will be smaller, but it hasn’t been broken,” Ulysses said Tuesday. “We will miss Reggie’s deep and rich baritone, but we feel that we are capable of carrying on our mission.”

That’s the word everyone wishes to hear, hoping the loss won’t silence the award-winning group.

“We’ll never be the same, but we’ve got to keep on,” Ulysses said, noting the brothers told their father on his death bed in 1991 they’d be there for their mother and Reggie, a long-suffering diabetic. “We promised we’d take care of them and keep on singing.”

That they have done, becoming nationally known even as they find time to perform for countless events in Orangeburg County. Their acclaim is wide.

The Jarvis Brothers performed their spirituals in Washington at the Smithsonian and in New York at the Apollo Theater, also before Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. They represented the state of South Carolina in the Millennium Stage series at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. And they received South Carolina’s highest honor for the arts, the Verner Award.

As to continuing as a quintet by recruiting a new member, Ulysses said it’s just not in the cards. “It’s a voice pattern that we have” that just can’t be replaced.

He said the four brothers will notify those who have engaged the group this spring that circumstances have changed. They booked a quintet. “We’re going to let them know our dilemma. We don’t have a quintet.”

That’s not likely to change the plans for those looking to see and hear the Jarvis Brothers. And it will be inspirational to see the brothers again take to the stage, with memories of Reggie always a part of the performance.

Ulysses has a message for Orangeburg in the family’s time of grief: “I thank Orangeburg for support over the years. I want to thank Orangeburg for bringing us into various homes, churches and programs. We still need the support.”

The first experience as a quartet will come at a difficult time for the brothers. Ulysses says they plan to sing at Reginald’s funeral at 11 a.m. Friday at Trinity United Methodist Church. It will be an emotional experience for them and all in attendance.

The thoughts and prayers of Orangeburg are with a family that has given so much to their community.

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