In a dining room in a wealthy district in the hills above Haiti’s capital, waiters in black outfits whisk plates of crunchy malanga fritters and a creamy cornmeal dish to well-off locals and...
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Honouring cultural icons
The thought of a convalescent Mighty Sparrow having to take to the stage only just having escaped the clutches of a serious illness to hustle for money to pay his medical bills is unsettling. Radio commentators condemned the government for failing to relieve this revered icon of such an onerous burden, even though, it appeared that news of his financial predicament was made public only relatively recently.
This intervention has surely soothed some rattled sensibilities. The Mighty Sparrow’s current circumstances have probably raised questions in citizens’ minds. This is a man who has come to embody the calypso genre and is head and shoulders above an ever-shrinking field.
Surely he has had a successful career which must have afforded him a measure of comfort in the twilight of his life. I don’t know the details of how Sparrow’s invaluable music catalogue is managed, but what ought to be considered is even in the prime of his performing career, he would never have been able to earn what “artistes” pull in today.
Soca music is a phenomenon which has developed the power to attract major sponsor interests and more significantly, dramatically increased public funding. The top artistes today, Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin and…well, that’s it, Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin are quite conceivably commanding more money to perform in one fete than the Mighty Sparrow could have possibly earned in an entire season during the height of his career.