Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Fitting tribute for one of city's most gifted sons

At long last, the Freedom of Belfast has been awarded to Van Morrison, one of its most talented sons who has put his native city on the international map for all time.

Many of his international fans may not have heard of Belfast, but they will know all about Fitzroy and other localities in the city which Van has made so famous through his genius as a songwriter and entertainer.

He has been the recipient of many awards, and his creativity is such that he has been mentioned in some movie credits along with Mozart, Beethoven and others who have the ability to connect with people from all backgrounds because of their unique talent to communicate.

Van Morrison's music speaks for itself, though sometimes he is often less than communicative in expressing himself. At times he can appear to be a right old curmudgeon, and the inner man still remains a mystery to most people, and not just his fans.

There is no doubt, however, that he is a giant of the entertainment world, and he thoroughly deserves the honour of being awarded the Freedom of Belfast.

He has put this city on the musical map for such a long time, and particularly in soul and rhythm during the darkest days when Belfast had such a depressing image in the Troubles.

More recently he has shown his affection for Belfast by a series of local concerts, all of the highest standards.

The city was right to propose the Freedom of Belfast for such an artist, and it is unfortunate that this warm-hearted gesture was overshadowed somewhat by the controversy about tickets and professional fees for last night's concert.

However, nothing can take away from the fact that Van Morrison's Freedom of Belfast is entirely merited and its citizens are grateful that he has accepted this honour.

He has given Belfast as much as it has given to him, and he has also given the arts and performing world a unique legacy of music, observation and philosophy which will for ever remain in the highest echelons of creativity and entertainment.

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