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Mighty Sparrow mounts NAPA stage with Jean and Dinah
The Mighty Sparrow (Slinger Francisco) was compelled to leave his seat in the audience and mount the stage to sing a verse and chorus of Jean and Dinah when his son Sergio needed help at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) on Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain, on Friday evening.
The occasion was the Anthropology of Sparrow: An Anthology of the Works of Slinger Francisco, 1956-1962, In the Age of Independence. It was the first in a series of tributes presented by the University of T&T’s Academy for Arts, Letters, Culture and Public Affairs, as a gift to the nation in celebration of UTT’s tenth anniversary.
The event featured 13 of Sparrow’s most beloved calypsoes from the pre-Independence era, performed by some of calypso’s icons and rising stars.
Sergio’s bungling attempt to showcase what is perhaps his father’s best known calypso—it became an international hit in 1956, and the first of his eight Road March victories—led members of the audience to express their disappointment by shouting derisive comments at the young man.
This forced him to leave the stage prematurely, spurring his father to leave where he was sitting with his wife Margaret and, with assistance from NAPA staff and loud shouts of approval echoing throughout the auditorium, climb onstage and demonstrate, in fine form and voice, just how the calypso was to be rendered.
Sparrow climaxed his entertaining impromptu performance with a crafty extempo verse that chided his son for not remembering the lyrics.
Some people even took the liberty of paraphrasing the line in the chorus that says “The Yankees gone and Sparrow take over now,” and sang instead “Sergio gone and Sparrow take over now.”
Dr Hollis Liverpool (Chalkdust), programme professor at the academy, said it was the academy’s intention to dispel the belief that anthologists were only university graduates.
“Sparrow is an anthologist in his own right,” he said, explaining that an anthology was a collection of selected writings by various authors in the same literary form of the same period, or on the same subject.
“Sparrow’s musical works of the era being celebrated tonight have educated the population and helped us forge our identity.
“His influence on the calypso genre and his overall impact on the music have been felt throughout the decades. UTT, as the national university, through its Academy of Arts, Letters, Culture and Public Affairs, is highly committed to the propagation and preservation of T&T’s rich culture and it is fitting that in this, the university’s tenth anniversary year, UTT honours Sparrow’s inimitable contribution to our musical heritage.”
Also delivering remarks were president of UTT, Prof Dyer Narinesingh; deputy chairman of the board of governors, Kwasi Mutema; and Minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training Fazal Karim.
The anthology: who sang what
Jean and Dinah—Sergio Francisco
Pay As You Earn—Crazy
Mr Benwood Dick—Versatile
Keep the City Clean—Hindu Prince
Model Nation—Devon Seales
Ten to One Is Murder—Versatile
Royal Jail—Paul Noel
Trinidad Carnival—Krisson Joseph
Honours for the Birdie
Sparrow is also to be honoured with the nation’s highest award, the Order of the Republic of T&T, the Prime Minister announced last week.
In addition, Canboulay Productions has organised an ongoing series of lectures on his work and significance. GML is the official media partner for the series, titled If Sparrow Say So....
The final lecture takes place on February 26 at 7 pm at Daaga Hall, UWI. Titled Who Taking Advantage of Who, it will be presented by Prof Patricia Mohammed and Singing Sandra.