Calypsonian Daniel Brown (Trinidad Rio) grew up at the Belmont Orphanage. As his career blossomed, Brown constantly devoted his time and talents to people incarcerated in institutions like Youth Training Centre (YTC) and Carrera prisons. During Carnival, Brown was honoured by YTC–A Tribute To Rio. The young men sang his hits like Back To Basics, Travelling Man, No Drawers and Big Wood Man. Bare-backed and with bow-tie, they imitated his stage persona to the nines. He was presented with a plaque. Sharing his milestone was his wife Katherine Garmmon and children.
At Nu Pub, Woodbrook, recently, Brown said, "It is beyond expression. It's a monumental expression for what it is and where it came from. The recognition and respect I got from them. It meant a lot for me. It was like watching myself on stage. I grew up in a similar institution. I was never in jail. It was Belmont Orphanage."While others may have hidden their past, Brown said Belmont Orphanage had a positive impact on his development and passion for music. He holds no grudges against his mother, the late Olivia Brown, for making the decision to send him there. "It was an obvious blessing. I was in there from eight to 16. I come from a large family...nine children. My old lady put me there because it was tough. But she never turned her back on me. She would always come and visit. I learnt discipline. We marched barefooted on the street. I learnt music. I learnt to play trumpet and French horn. I learnt joinery," said Brown.
Brown began to discover his love for singing there."I took part in competitions and won. I would listen to the station Radio Rediffusion. I instinctively knew music would be part of my life. I thank God for music because without it I don't know where I would have been," said Brown.
Inspired by Pretender
Brown was inspired by the late great Pretender's (Alric Farrell) calypso Never Ever Worry."I played that song all over in my head. I said this message is so simple and deep. When you are going through hard times, it does not matter what happens. Doh mind if you suffering bad. Just talk to God. It stuck with me. I decided to sing a message song Sambo."
Asked what he felt should be done to help youth Brown said, "They need guidance and discipline. I am an altruist. I am a missionary calypsonian. I put a bit of humour in my songs but the message is profound."
Asked about Carrera Brown said, "For years, I would go back as a guest artiste at the calypso competition. It could be made into a tourist resort. It is a nice location. They let Centipede Island go to waste."
About Trinidad Rio
He was born in San Fernando but his family was from Claxton Bay.When he left the orphanage, his first job was as an apprentice to a shoemaker. "It was $8 a week."During his childhood, Brown remembered his mother playing an Old Mas character."Today there is a bit of sadness when I realised how she struggled to take care of us. My old lady was tall. And in those days, if they recognised you, they would say "Old Mas, I know you." It meant you would get no money. But she still got. She would come with a pan full of pennies and coppers. It was a joyous experience for us as children."Brown finds peace at picturesque Talparo where he owns land. "I always wanted a place with a river flowing through it. The birds are singing. The place is pristine. I say God's face is in Talparo. The people are warm. I love Talparo."