Diaspora Dynamics, where we focus on keeping you abreast of the activities, achievements, and contributions of Vincentians all around the world. For this edition, we are pleased to feature Newman Nedd from South Rivers. Newman is an entrepreneur and Remax Real Estate Specialist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, where he currently resides.
By Tricia Reddock
They say a child is a blessing. And some say children are miracles. The circumstances surrounding Newnan Nedd’s appearance on this earth are nothing short of miraculous.
In the quiet hills of South Rivers, Charlotte Parish on the Windward side in 1950, lived a farmer John Nedd and his wife Martha.
After several painful tries at starting a family, they had already resigned themselves to a childless future.
On one of his frequent trips, John set out for Trinidad on the fated Esther T, along with forty-seven other passengers. Tragedy struck and Esther T sunk on the way in the Grenadines.
John was stranded at sea, hanging onto a piece of wood for a full eighteen hours before he was finally rescued.
It wasn’t his only second chance. His joyful reunion with Martha after this harrowing experience yielded a “new man” for this world when Martha gave birth to Newman Nedd on New Year’s Day 1951. Newmans early days were spent in South Rivers with his parents.
“South Rivers was a very close knit community. Everyone knew each other, back then all the doors were always opened. My mother was very protective over me. I guess because I was her miracle child.”
This sheltered existence proved very temporary as Martha succumbed to diabetes when he was just seven. Per his mother’s wishes, Newman’s aunt assumed responsibility for his everyday care, so his time was split between Colonarie and his father in South Rivers.
His cognitive childhood years were spent with his aunt in Colonarie, a seaside community that was more commercial and developed than South Rivers. It was during these years that Newman discovered and cultivated a love for music. This was the beginning of his life centered on the art and social scene.
“I started playing guitar at fifteen. I had been taking piano lessons for some time. So I started learning to play the guitar. Then I started being influenced by music from The Beatles, and I tried to copy what I heard.”
While still at high school, he formed a band called Tuxedo Combo with five other musicians in his area. They played at local halls and at special events at Byera, South Rivers, Calliaqua, Belmont and other villages along the windward coast.
Tuxedo Combos popular covers earned them a local fan base and his dark good looks proved irresistible to the young ladies. At just eighteen, he found himself the father of two children through his exploits with his band.
“My father was big on education. He thought I was unfocused and having too many babies, so we decided I would go to New York to pursue my education. So in 1969, I left SVG for Brooklyn on a student visa.
When I arrived, I went straight to Mary Neverson in Bedford Stuyvesant. She immediately embraced me and helped me to find an apartment and settle into life in New York. Right away, I registered for a course in business administration at NY Business School.”
Determined to get his education, Newman went on to CUNY, while supporting himself at various odd jobs in the city. Adjusting to the life in the city proved to be a humbling experience for him.
“I had just left SVG at a time when the band and I were popular. I had my own motorcycle for transport and a wide social circle. It was difficult assimilating to my new lifestyle. I had no ride, so I had to use public transportation.
I took on odd jobs at restaurants waiting tables and doing deliveries. It was very humbling. It didn’t take me too long before I scrambled around to get myself a new convertible chevy. I needed a ride.”
New York in the 70s had a legendary social and art scene powered by the recent gains of the civil rights movement. A new era of social acceptance created avenues for opportunities to network.
Newman immersed himself in the city’s underground music scene, forming a band that played at local venues and for special events in and around Brooklyn.
“The 70s was a beautiful time to be in New York City. Following right after the social unrest of the civil rights movement in the 60s, all the love that was fought for flourished. Love, peace, social acceptance all came into maturity in the 70s.”
As he settled into NY, he continued networking. While at Baruch studying business, Newman decided to try his hand at entrepreneurship. He purchased a limousine service franchise and began operations in Manhattan.
In the era of Studio 54, his limo service flourished. He serviced the elite partygoers, socialites, celebrities, and wall street executives he met while socializing. After achieving his Bachelor’s in Economics from Baruch, Newman decided to stick with entrepreneurship despite numerous offers from financial service firms.
Throughout the 80s he tried his hand at buying and selling cars, finding this more lucrative than the limo service.
“I am always looking for new opportunities. I found this to be more profitable than the limousine service and it was a business I could operate out of my home office.”
After three years he turned his sights to the fashion industry, establishing a custom leather shop in Greenwich Village, the heart of New York’s art and music scene. He offered custom leather clothing designs to the models and fashion industry folks he met.
“My social life always facilitated my networking efforts. My passion is connecting with people. I preach the oneness of all. One earth, one people, one creator. We all came here the same way.
We all exist the same way. We all breathe the same way. I love connecting with young people hoping to change mindsets from being boxed in.”
Always on the lookout for new opportunities, Newman’s next venture was obtaining his real estate license through City College. His next gig involved selling co-ops and condos in the metropolitan area.
After two decades in New York, he decided it was time for a change. Philadelphia proved appealing.
“At the time, the city started feeling overcrowded. I wanted something new. I was attracted to the beautiful homes in Philly, so I decided it was time to move on.”
Newman moved to the City of Brotherly Love as Philly is known, in 1991, accepting a position managing corporate services at a financial services firm for five years.
Naturally, he used that time to penetrate the social scene. Eventually, he was offered the opportunity to manage Champagne’s, a black owned establishment that catered to the city’s black elites.
Newman was again in his element, catering to the politicians, musicians, artists and socialites. Some of Champagne’s regulars included local celebrities like Eve and Meek Mills. He remained with Champagnes for fifteen years, while working at real estate part time.
When Champagne changed management, Newman returned to real estate on a full time basis.
Currently, Newman is focusing on building his brand selling homes, coops and condos as a Remax Real Estate Specialist. His time at Champagne’s added on to his extensive contacts and continues to provide a solid base for his business. He plans on opening his own firm within the next two years.
Newman’s personal goals are to travel and see as much as he can of the world. He lists Australia and Europe as prominent on his bucket list.
After years on the social scene, and being constantly surrounded by people, Newman counts the adjustment to living alone his current challenge.
“I have always been exposed to people, starting from my band days in SVG, then in NYC, I lived and breathed the arts, hanging out with club promoters, musicians and the fashion crowd. Now I am getting used to a more quiet lifestyle.”
After years of being the life of the party, Newman has embraced his own oneness. Oneness with self.