It was not accidental that David Rudder (“King David” as named by the Mighty Sparrow, and if Sparrow say so is so) opened his last major concert Saturday evening with an admittance that “we have lost the battle, but yet we will win the war.” Notwithstanding the ephemeral, short-term defeat, Mr Rudder ended the show formally four hours later assured “that the Father in his mercy,” has given him and us cause to be satisfied.
Just possibly, Mr Rudder, who recently revealed he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, is saying through the structuring of his performance that while there are immediate destructive effects on his body, taken as a whole, he has triumphed in what his father has sent him to do and for that he is thankful enough for “everybody to give praise ... Amen.”
The thousands at the Sound Forge were indeed thankful and delighted for what this inspired and gifted artiste has done for them and the nation. Towards the end of the show, one celebrant to the art felt compelled to “give thanks” on behalf of the nation for the contribution of one of our most beloved calypsonians.
What a repertoire Mr Rudder has put together over the 40 years of performing, first as background chorus for the big name bards before emerging in 1986 in his own right to win Young Kings, Calypso Monarch and the Road March title of the year.
Over the four decades, Mr Rudder has often touched on our sensitivities, glories and our often maddening habitual lifestyles. He has poked fun at us, laughing and celebrating unconcerned “while ah smart man gone with we money … to Panama.” In the process, Mr Rudder has uncovered our tendency to let things slide without being too perturbed, in reality, indulgent of those who play us for fools.
King David has sung triumphantly from deep inside, knowing that while we often fight each other to the ground, the waters of the great rivers of India and Africa (the Ganges and the Nile) have flowed, mixed and refreshed our civilisation.
His love for the creators of our steelband, for the pan players and his absolute commitment to his country and culture, were evident in his compositions and performances.
Mr Rudder’s approach has not been preachy; indeed, in certain of his compositions, he enjoys a measure of ambivalence as he pokes fun at those foibles we expose of ourselves and make known to others.
Without the energy and stamina of the past, Mr Rudder had a number of young artistes to give support. Enthusiastically, respectfully and gratefully, many did. Kes, Machel, Bigford, George, Voice and Destra displayed their love for their senior with expressions of gratitude for allowing them to share his grand stage.
The good news is that King David has “Won the War.” He has been able to do the work his father sent him to accomplish. The nation must surely expect that as King David has said, he will continue to perform as long as he is able to. What is certain is that his contribution over the years can never die: “Never, Never, Never, Never.”