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Century of calypso recording
A constellation of calypso stars shone brilliantly on Wednesday night when icons of the art form attended the gala, Celebrating 100 Years of Calypso Recording, at the Lord Kitchener Auditorium of the National Academy for the Performing (NAPA), in Port-of-Spain.
Produced by the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation, (Tuco), the event was graced by the presence of President George Maxwell Richards, his wife Dr Jean Ramjohn-Richards and Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas.
Also in attendance was Pan Trinbago president Keith Diaz. Proceedings were opened with prayers by Tuco marketing manager and former National Calypso Monarch Franz Lambkin (Delamo), followed by a poignant and stern opening address by Tuco chairman Lutalo Masimba (Bro Resistance), punctuated by applause from a captive and appreciative audience which held on to his every word.
The chairman took the electronic media and successive administrations to task for not insisting on a much higher quota of calypso and pan music on the airwaves. Also addressing the audience were President Richards and Douglas.
In his comprehensive 30-minute speech on the history, state of the art form, and aspirations its administrators ought to pursue, Richards quoted a line from Bally’s 1991 composition, Mih Music, stating, “Trinidadians only miss calypso when they go abroad.”
He also urged T&T nationals, while appreciating and enjoying the music, to begin making a more salient and indepth look at the art form and its practitioners. On yet another occasion at this prestigious Frederick Street showplace, what was supposed to be an evening of excellent performances was marred by a less than adequate sound system, causing guests to have to exert every ounce of their auditory abilities to discern the lyrics of the calypsos performed.
Notwithstanding this sore point, the performers gave it their stoic best, ably backed by Kelly Green & Harmony. Bro Valentino (Emrold Phillip) provided the programme, hosted by former Miss Universe Janelle Penny Commissiong-Chow and rapso artiste Omari Ashby, a powerful opening, performing his classic, Where Kaiso Went...?
The performances were interspersed with the distribution of awards to deserving stalwarts in the art form. Recipients included Chalkdust (Dr Hollis Liverpool); Fortunia Ruiz; Melina Bascome; Trinidad Bill (Paul Trotman); Bomber (Clifton Ryan); All Rounder (Anthony Hendrickson); Composer (Fred Mitchell); Funny (Donric Williamson); Singing Francine (Francine Edwards); Earl Rodney; Franklin Agarrat; and Eric Michaud.
Posthumous honours went to the late Melody (Fitzroy Alexander) and Spoiler (Theophilus Phillip), while media practitioners Deborah John, Dave Elcock and Kenny Phillip also received awards.
In addition to reigning National Calypso Monarch Duane O’Connor rendering his winning ditty, The Hunt is On, with Ta’zyah O’Connor, 17 vintage kaisoes were performed by a cast of handpicked calypsonians, including Devon Seales, KV Charles, Timel Rivas, David Bereaux, Joseph Williams, Organiser (Leydon Charles), Alicia Jagessar, Selvon Noel, Sharlon Bailey, Sheldon Reid, Super Blue, Erphaan Alves, Temeika Darius. Chucky (Roderick Gordon), and Tobago Kitchener (Curtis John).
Songs to capture the audience’s fancy included Growling Tiger’s Motorcar Horn; Roaring Lion’s Papa Chunks; Lord Melody’s Shame and Scandal, and Sparrow’s Jean and Dinah.
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