Milton A. Marriott, former choir leader and musician for local churches and VUU, dies at age 62

1/27/2022, 6 p.m.
Jamaican-born church key- board artist and singer Milton Anthony Marriott, who led the music ministry and directed choirs at First ...
Mr. Marriott

Jamaican-born church keyboard artist and singer Milton Anthony Marriott, who led the music ministry and directed choirs at First Baptist Church of South Richmond for 32 years, has died.

Mr. Marriott, 62, succumbed to illness Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, in Newport News.

Known for his warm smile and sense of humor, he was all business in striving for excellence when it came to music, his family wrote in a statement.

“He demanded the best from his choir members and musicians,” his family wrote. “Long rehearsals until ‘it was right’ were characteristic of his leadership.”

A self-taught prodigy who was playing melodies on the keyboard when he was 4 years old, Mr. Marriott was so gifted he could hear “every note coming from every person” in the choir, his family noted.

Mr. Marriott, who conducted while also playing the piano and organ, taught the singers he worked with music theory, emphasized the importance of enunciation in singing and promoted the faith during rehearsals, his family stated.

“He was dedicated to his music and his ministry, determined to help his choirs grow musically and so dependable. If he said he was going to play or sing, he would always be there,” said his daughter, Ashley Marriott-Powell.

The family celebrated Mr. Marriott’s life at a private service Friday, Jan. 21, at First Baptist Church of South Richmond, with the church’s senior pastor, Dr. Dwight C. Jones, officiating and delivering the eulogy.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica, it was there Mr. Marriott developed a talent for singing and playing the full repertoire of church music, from hymns and anthems to inspirational spirituals and gospel.

At age 22, he emigrated to the United States. First New York, he relocated to Richmond in 1981 to study music at Virginia Union University. While there, he met Dr. Jones, pastor of First Baptist since 1973, who invited him in 1983 to join his church’s music ministry and promoted him to minister of music in 1986.

Affectionately dubbed “Maestro Marriott,” Mr. Marriott also served as minister of music at St. James Baptist Church in Henrico during Dr. Jones’ tenure as pastor of that church as well as First Baptist.

Mr. Marriott also served several years as VUU’s official organist.

He left First Baptist in December 2018 to become minister of music at First Baptist Church of Hampton. At his death, he was living in Newport News and serving as minister of music at Queen Street Baptist Church of Norfolk.

Along with music, his family said he loved conversation and good food, particularly from his native country.

Survivors also include three other daughters, Dannielle Marriott, Kristin Marriott and Stacey Marriott; two sons, Aeron Marriott and Eli Williams; his mother, HopeWheeler; two sisters, Kathryn and Nikkola; three brothers; Colin, Lloyd and Darryl; and three grandchildren.