IAN KEVIN RAMDHANIE
Caribbean Institute for Security
and Public Safety
“A good name is more desirable than great wealth. Respect is better than silver or gold.” Evidence of the truth in this excerpt from the Book of Proverbs, was manifested at De Nu Pub in Woodbrook on July 2 where veteran calypsonian Twiggy (Ann Marie Parks-Kojo) played gracious host to the large crowd that came out to join her in celebration of her birthday, as well as 40 years as a professional entertainer.
Twiggy is the livewire executive member of Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO) and regular cast member of its flagship tent Kaiso House. The huge turnout of fellow calypsonians and calypso enthusiasts spoke loudly of the high esteem in which she is held by those with whom she interacts.
Delivering an earthy performance, in which she created an easy rapport with the audience, Twiggy showed versatility, class and craft in executing a seven-song repertoire that included Calypso Rising, from the pen of GB (Gregory Ballantyne); It Hard To Be A Lady, written by Explainer (Winston Henry) in 1979; What Have You Done, composed and sung in 2004; Let’s Stay Together, sung by Al Green in 1972; I Doh Mind, recorded and sung by St Vincent’s Winston Soso in 1985; and Up Under Me, her biggest hit, to date, which in 1999 was the number one song on WLIB Caribbean charts for four weeks, and the number four song of the year.
Supporting artistes on the playbill’s opening segment were Anthony Johnson and Typher (Cuthbert Blackett). Johnson won plaudits for his decision to include the sentimental favourites Times Of Your Life, sung by Paul Anka, and It’s Just A Matter Of Time, written and sung by Brook Benton in 1959. Typher was the recipient of a sincere encore for his rib-tickling response in song to Singing Sandra’s (Sandra Des Vignes Millington) hugely popular Sexy Employers (Die With My Dignity).
Birthday presentations to Twiggy were made by Brother Superior (Andrew Marcano); Brother Resistance (Lutalo Masimba), on behalf of Kaiso House; a huge birthday cake with lit candles, by former national calypso monarchs Karene Asche and Duane O’Connor; and a bouquet of flowers by her husband Oba.
Also lending support to the programme, with mini-concerts of their own, were Black Sage (Phillip Murray), Kenny J (Kenrick Joseph), and others.
With sparkling accompaniment from Cummings and the Wailers, and melodious chorus work from the Kaiso Jewels, it was a night of glorious celebration respectfully earned by Twiggy, who started her calypso career at the Regal Calypso Tent, founded by Brother Superior in 1974. “Superior gave me the name ‘Twiggy’ because of how slim I was back then,” she recalled.
She is the first ever National Women’s Action Committee (NWAC) National Calypso Queen, having won the inaugural competition in 1985. She also copped the first prize at the Calypso Queen competition in 1984.
In 1986 she joined the Roy Cape Calypso All Stars, and three years later toured with the band throughout the Caribbean, North America, and Europe. In 1997, Twiggy performed at Kitchener’s Revue tent and placed second in the National Calypso Queen Competition with the selections Sabotage and Up Under Me.