By Kaelanne Jordan
We’ve found him!
Since the broadcast of the Mass for the 2nd Sunday of Easter via Trinity TV, social media has been abuzz with finding out who the guy was in the wheelchair who sang ‘Hallelujah’.
His most recent performance was at the Corpus Christi Mass, with his rendition of ‘Panis Angelicus’ (Bread of the Angels).
His name is David Huggins and Catholic News spoke to him via phone on Tuesday.
“When I sing that song, real magic does happen,” Huggins joked.
He said since his “debut” during Easter, he’s still is in disbelief over the favourable responses received from persons even as far as the United States.
Hallelujah, originally written by Canadian singer, songwriter, poet and novelist Leonard Cohen was rewritten by Huggins.
“When I got the call to sing at Living Water [Community] I was very very delighted to go. Not for the sake of the work but I was more excited to receive Holy Communion. And I was really honoured for that. That was a big thing for me…” Huggins explained.
With the suspension of all Masses and Services effective March 14, Huggins, at that time, was among the few to receive Communion.
He shared when Archbishop Gordon saw the lyrics for his adaptation, he too “immediately” gave the go-ahead.
While the lyrics tell the story of Jesus’ birth and death, “the true story” is about God’s love for all.
“The message that I wanted to convey to people is that the same love He has for His Son is the same love He has for everyone and He loves us and forsake us He will never,” Huggins said.
It’s important, Huggins added that persons accept this message, as COVID-19 has presented a “very awkward situation” for all to adapt.
Of his singing, Huggins commented that it is very “heartfelt”.
“I don’t just come out and sing a song for people. I love to look at the lyrical content…” he stressed.
Aside from being a professional vocalist, Huggins is also known to the radio fraternity as ‘Okee Dokee’ where he spent 20 years, with his last stint at 107.7 Radio for Life. He also does commercials, his most popular is the voice for Anton’s Gold Rush and Massy’s Dollar Stretcher advertisements. He wrote the ‘Hosanna in the Highest’ hymn in 1991, which he said, is a staple at the St Theresa’s RC, Barataria parish.
Huggins also launched a singing procurement service for funerals/house Masses/weddings along with musician Micell Joseph, newly appointed Liturgical Committee Coordinator of The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Since losing his right leg in 2017, Huggins attains funds from his services. He revealed he is not a recipient of a disability grant nor is he receiving social welfare. He flat out told Catholic News that he is unemployed and in desperate need of work.
Huggins mentioned he hosted a concert ‘Stand for Love’ to raise funds for a prosthetic leg.
“And I just started to catch myself again,” he said, adding that he has since been in touch with priests to offer his services at churches.
Huggins, resident soloist and parishioner at St Theresa’s RC, Woodbrook for over 40 years has been singing since 1979. He mentioned he studied Voice at Settlement Music School in Philadelphia with now American singer-songwriter Shawn Stockman, lead singer of multiplatinum R&B group Boys II Men.
“He was in the R&B and Jazz class while I was in Classical/Operatic class. And we used to meet up…They always use to call me ‘Trini’…We always kept in touch…He turned out to make a lot of money…me en making the money yet…” he joked.
Nevertheless, Huggins wants people to see him as the guy with one leg who is “singing his guts off” for God.
He’s wheelchair bound but wants to be recognised as someone “bound in faith”.
“My leg got severed but its not going to stop me from praising God. I’m not giving up. I get fulfilled in faith. Once you believe in God and have faith in God, a lot of magical things happen,” he said.
He remains optimistic that he will be employed again, and will, one day, also walk again.
Of being an amputee, Huggins asserted that he is not disappointed. In fact, his upbeat demeanour over the phone quickly dispelled any hint of self-pity.
“People find me on the phone and ask me to pray for them. And I believe He put me on a track here because you are alive for a reason. And I want to believe that I’m starting to see it. My story and coupled with faith are ideal for people right now,” Huggins said.
He has this message of faith for all: Stick to God and you will be surprised at the kind of things happening in your life.
Persons interested in booking David Huggins for an event can contact him at 365-5269 or the parish office at St Theresa’s RC, Woodbrook.