Re-enactment of the 1962 Independence Calypso Contest at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain, on Sunday was referred to as “history in the remaking” by the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). Hosted by UTT’s Academy for Arts, Letters, Culture and Public Affairs, the event was held at the Lord Kitchener Auditorium and, through a three-way video hook-up, the Tobago Technology Centre in Caanan, Tobago, and St Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, New York. T&T’s Consul General in New York, Rudrawatee Nan Ramgoolam, chaired the New York activity, while Dr Allison Williams acted on behalf of Claudia Groomes-Duke in Tobago. The first Independence Calypso Competition in 1962 was staged on August 15. Contestants were: Pretender, Nap Hepburn, The Hawk, Power, Brynner, Bomber, Dougla, Cristo, Sparrow, Chiang Kai Shek, Striker and Lazy Harrow.
Bert Innis and his Combo provided musical accompaniment, the March of Dimes Quartet backed up the singers and show host was radio announcer Sam Ghany. The two surviving members from that contest were there on Sunday and presented with awards of appreciation—Bomber (Clifton Ryan) at NAPA in Port-of-Spain and Sparrow (Dr Slinger Francisco) at St Francis College, New York. The programme opened with the UTT Chorale, under the direction of Richard Pierre, performing a calypso medley which included Sparrow’s Education, David Rudder’s Calypso Music, and Benjai’s Trini, after which Dr Hollis Liverpool (Chalkdust), chairman of the Academy of Arts, Letters, Culture and Public Affairs, welcomed guests and introduced Kwasi Mutema, member of the Board of Governors of UTT, and Senator Fazal Karim, Minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training, to deliver brief remarks.
Re-creation of the historic moment in our nation’s history was accomplished with the help of present-day calypsonians, who were as follows:
Paul Noel (one half of Regeneration Now)—Praise To Dr Willie (Pretender)
Luta—The Meaning Of Independence (Bomber)
Versatile—This Is My Flag (Nap Hepburn)
Devon Seales—A Model Nation (Sparrow)
Crazy—Independence (Chiang Kai Shek)
Ras Kommanda—Build Our Nation (The Hawk)
The Mighty Diamond—We Could Make It (Striker)
Michelle Henry—Ah Glad For Independence (Christo)
Krisson Joseph (son of Sedley “Penguin” Joseph)—At Last We Are Free—(Dougla)
Chalkdust—Hurrah For Independence (Power).
What emerged from the performances was an appreciation by the thousands of guests present for the high standard of lyrical and musical content in the calypsos showcased, with Devon Seale, Michelle Henry, Krisson Joseph, Versatile and Luta doing outstanding interpretations of their selections accompanied by the Errol Ince Melody Makers.
The UTT Steel Orchestra paid a “pan tribute” to Bomber and Sparrow by offering attractive arrangements of Joan and James (Bomber) and Memories (Sparrow). Show host duties were shared by Rudolph Ottley and Llewellyn MacIntosh (Short Pants).