Mr. Eric Bertram Cash Sr. was born in Nassau, Bahamas and grew up on Lewis Street and the Market Street area. He remembers very distinctly that as a boy, a catalog owned by his sister caught his eye. In this catalog were musical instruments like trumpets, pianos, and various other instruments. Eric's sister also brought home her schoolbooks, which included the "Royal Reader". These books would include lessons accompanied by music examples. At the age of 5, Eric taught himself to sight sing these music examples after his older siblings sang the songs to him.
Leon Young, in the early twenties, owned two wooden houses opposite each other on Young Street (in the Grants Town/Bain Town/Market Street Area) where all of the residents were either from Andros or Cat Island. On Sundays after church, they would assemble under the trees in the yard and would sing in four-part harmony from the Harmony of Heaven hymnal. Eric was about 8 years old at this time. One afternoon, Eric built up the courage to ask to join in, and the regular singers were indeed surprised, and even more so when he sat and read the music as he sang along with them.
Eric's mother, being advised of his talents, bought him a mouth organ (harmonica) and later a ukulele. He taught himself to play and enjoyed playing for his mother as she would sing around the house. The author observed the joy in recalling how happy this time was especially for his mother.
Eric was later enrolled at the local Catholic school and became an altar boy at the Our Lady’s Church that ran the school. Eric was given the responsibility of opening the church building in the mornings. This was truly a blessing for him because the schoolroom housed many instruments including the band instruments for the newly formed Catholic band. At 6:00 a.m., Eric would sneak into the church before “the Father” arrived at 6:30 a.m. for 7:00 a.m. Mass. He and a friend, Harry Allen, (father of politician Algernon Allen) would sneak into the church to teach themselves to play on the reed organ and the piano. Harry's payment for this escapade was the use of his John Thompson piano book and of course the sweets that his mother would bake. While Harry played the piano, Eric would play songs from the hymnal at the organ. At this stage, Eric was approaching the age of 10.
Eric had developed a routine in order not to get caught by Father Arnold Munlock. One morning, to Eric's surprise, Father Munlock arrived 10 minutes earlier than usual. Fearing strong disciplinary measures, Father Munlock, pleasantly shocked at what he'd heard, issued the sentence of having Eric play for Thursday night holy hour. This indeed made Eric both happy and relieved. Eric, later on, taught himself all of the other instruments in the schoolroom, and ended up playing the organ for the church from the age of 14 to present.
During his young years, Eric's tried to involve him in a trade, which was common for young men in those days. Many attempts were made to interest Eric in trades like farming, tailoring, carpentry, etc… but this was not to be. The hard labor just didn't compare to Eric's first love, music. Eric finally settled on being a waiter at a local hotel, which was quite prestigious in those days. First, he would have to attend the Dundas school that was run by Charlotte Douglas. At the Dundas school, Eric became familiar with all of the French menus, and proper etiquette associated with working in a first-rate dining room.
A call came from the Montague Hotel in 1927, based on someone’s recommendation of Eric, and the ensuing experience exposed Eric to the foreign bands, and their diverse cultures, that visited the hotel. Bands that performed locally were The Bain’s Orchestra in which Mr. Bain played the violin, and the Chocolate Dandies, in which musicians like Lou Adams Sr. and George Symonette were members of. They were influenced by the Big Bands that often performed at the hotels.
Eric, shortly thereafter, decided to return to school. He came to realize that there was so much that he needed to learn in order to compete in the world as it was. Eric shortly thereafter, signed up for classes offered by Bosfield Johnson in the after school hours. He studied English language and literature, general science, general knowledge, and Latin. Approximately one year later, Eric Cash along with a friend Eric Russell started piano lessons with Samuel O. Johnson, Bosfield’s brother.
In 1939 or thereabout, venues like the Silver Slipper, Zanzibar, and the People’s Theatre featured local entertainers. Eric was about 25 when his friend Maurice Harvey introduced him to Lou Adams Sr. Subsequently he was hired as saxophonist along-side Bruce Coakley for a few years before moving to the bass. From then on, he's been with the Lou Adams Orchestra.
The two Erics continued to work and successfully passed their grade 8 Trinity College of Music exams, music and theory. Shortly thereafter, Eric Cash passed the A.T.C.L. (Associate Teacher's Diploma) with the assistance of Harold Blanchard in 1960.
Later on in 1961, Eric went on to get a B.Mus (Bachelor of Music) from the Chicago University Extension Conservatory. He also received his Licentiate (L.T.C.L) in class music teaching from Trinity College of Music in 1970, and a diploma in French Language and Literature from the University of Paris in 1976. Additionally, Eric received a M.Sc.Ed (Master of Science Education) in 1980.
Professor Cash, as he is known today, made many valuable contributions to the growth and development of music education in the Bahamas, though often in an unassuming way, without much fanfare. He taught music for the Board of Education from 1959-1965, and French and music at Prince William High School from 1967-1993. "My greatest contribution to music has been my teaching. Many of my students are leading musicians in the church and community." (Cash, 2004).
As the acoustic bass player for the Lou Adams Orchestra, Eric traveled to places like Great Britain, Belgium, Holland, Iceland, Canada, Mexico, Ireland, and throughout the United States. The Lou Adams Orchestra has been performing at the exclusive Lyford Cay Club & Hotel for the past 35 years, good years according to Eric.
Eric is also a composer, he wrote songs like Pretty Boy, recorded by George Symonette and Blind Blake, One Bahamas, Nassau Nassau, and Belle (Mae). Eric also wrote many other less known pieces recorded by others and for which he never received credit. In addition, Eric has written a Mass for the Catholic Diocese of the Bahamas and a hymn for Our Lady's Church's 70th Anniversary. Mr. Eric Cash has been awarded The Bahamas Order of Merit Award. He was among the first to be awarded this prestigious award in 1996 as part of the country’s independence celebrations. Eric has also been recognized for his exemplary service by the Bahamas Musicians & Entertainers Union.
More recently, The College of The Bahamas honored Professor Cash at their annual Colour of Harmony visual and performing arts concert. He was recognized as one of our outstanding contributors to education and performance in the Country and awarded the Clement E. Bethel Award.
Mr. Eric Bertram Cash Sr. B.O.M., B.Mus., A.T.C.L., L.T.C.L., M.Sc.Ed. "A Great Bahamian".