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Sparrow’s Hideaway treasures on display

Published: 
Friday, February 13, 2015
Actress Penelope Spencer grabs a US$1 from the Mighty Sparrow during a performance from the play Jean and Dinah by Tony Hall at the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism Mighty Sparrow Memorabilia launch at the Ministry’s Office, Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain, on Wednesday. PHOTO:JEFF MAYERS

The Calypso King of the World, the Mighty Sparrow (Dr Slinger Francisco) and his prolific composer Winsford “Joker” Devine, treated guests to a special performance, when the exhibition Treasures from the Hideaway was formally launched at the Division of Culture, Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain, on Wednesday.

Treasures from the Hideaway is the personal collection of Sparrow memorabilia, acquired by the Government for a ten-year period, in an exhibition that shows “the life of an artiste who has helped to spread Caribbean culture worldwide for so many years.” Devine is known to have written most of Sparrow’s calypsoes of the 1970s and 1980s, including Rope, Capitalism Gone Mad, Phillip My Dear, Saltfish, Marajhin, Survival and about another 50 or 60 compositions.

When Sparrow was asked to deliver remarks at the function, he acknowledged the presence of Devine in the audience, saying: “Joker, it’s nice to see you here. We go back a long way. Help me remember some of the work we did.” Then, instead of making a speech, the Birdie, with Devine’s prompting, sang verses of some of the collaborative songs by the duo, including Phillip My Dear, and Willie Dead.

In delivering the feature address, Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism Dr Lincoln Douglas said in over six decades of performing, Sparrow had touched the lives of people throughout the world, garnering much love and acclaim while becoming a true ambassador of our West Indian nature. “His personal collection of memorabilia, each piece an acknowledgement of his brilliance, skill, unique presence, and the joy and entertainment he has given to others is more than extensive,” he said. 

“This impressive collection is not only a relevant display of Sparrow personally, with much of his famous music, private pictures and numerous awards but an informative walk through the history of calypso music. “With this initial presentation, encapsulating only a part of his greatness, we hope to edify those curious about T&T’s calypso heritage and one of its greatest proponents while admiring the brilliance, humour, accomplishments and spirit of the undisputed Calypso King of the World.”

The interactive presentation was created from various keepsakes Sparrow acquired during his career as a calypsonian—personal treasures that were only available for private viewing at Sparrow’s Hideaway, his home in Petit Valley. The scope ranges from the visual to tangible elements such as plaques, trophies and medals. The exhibition also includes audiovisual examples of a number of his stage performances, and many of his celebrated songs.

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Contributing to the evening’s entertainment were Rhoma Spencer and Penelope Spencer doing an excerpt from Tony Hall’s play Jean and Dinah, as well as creative presentations of Sparrow’s calypsoes by members of the National Theatre Arts Company of T&T that included We Kinda Music, Outcast, Federation, Education, The Lizard, Melda, Congo Man, and Saltfish.

The exhibition is mounted on the second floor of the Jobco Building, 51-55 Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain. No information was given about opening date and times of the exhibition.

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