Lujoe and the Gifted

The band Lujoe and the Gifted.

“Trinidad is my land and of it I am proud and glad.”

Those emotionally charged timeless lyrics from lead vocalist Joshua Samerson raised pores and hopes across the Caribbean and throughout the Diaspora, when crossover band Lujoe and The Gifted staged a virtual Mother’s Day concert, last Sunday, on Facebook.

The Belmont-based band had previously spent just over an hour paying tributes to “mothers everywhere” with a soulfully diverse set that included covers of legendary American funk band Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September”, Jamaican reggae star Chronixx’s “Skanking Sweet” and American R&B quartet Boyz II Men’s “Song for Mama”.

Vocalists Kevon Carter and Tricia Lee Kelshall both made special guest appearances via live feed performances from their respective homes during the showcase.

When Lujoe and The Gifted switched tempos to bring the sound home with the Mighty Sniper’s (Mervyn Hodge) 1965 calypso classic “Portrait of Trinidad”, however, they created musical magic. The band’s reworked version of the song has been on repeat everywhere from cinema to mobile phone screens since its release in 2016.

On Sunday the timeless anthem took on renewed meaning as the Maraval boys praised medical practitioners, essential workers and the nation as a whole for what has so far been a successful containment of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Samerson brothers Luke, lead guitar and vocals, and Joshua, vocals and rhythm guitar urged bandmates bassist Rashad Ahong and drummer Lemuel Davis to join in the tribute saying: “Today we pay tribute with the Portrait of Trinidad and Tobago”.

“We must pay tribute to us as a people of Trinidad and Tobago. We have been doing a fantastic job with this pandemic that we are going through. Keep up the good work, continue with the social distancing and let us all make the country the best it can be,” Luke, the elder of the Samerson sibling duo, said.

A comforting voice

Luke said Sunday’s message was an important one to share given the uncertainty and fear brought about by the global pandemic.

The Lujoe and The Gifted band leader said they have not been able to practise and rehearse or secure gigs as a result of stay-at-home and social distancing measures put in place by Government.

“It was important to come and do the virtual concert because everyone is looking for a means of comfort in these tough times and music is a healing tool,” Luke told Kitcharee on Friday.

Rashad, meanwhile, said the band was already preparing for the impending changes to the creative and entertainment industries following the pandemic. The new way forward, he reckons, will require active and creative solutions as the situation continues to evolve.

“We have always actively tried to stay ahead in the use of technology and now we plan to apply it to our digital performances. The Mother’s Day concert was seen on our Facebook page, where we teamed up with a local company, TV and radio station for active broadcasting. It was a success so we feel pretty confident about continuing to further and evolve the process,” he said.

The key, he says, is to keep creating, even in the face of stagnant income brought about by the shutdowns to slow the spread of the pandemic.

“Now is a time to refine our craft and also to nurture new and progressive methods to help our industry not only survive but grow. One thing that has not changed is the fact that there is always opportunity and that we should be ready when it presents itself. Keep positive. Keep creating. And stay safe. We will make it through this together,” Rashad concluded.


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