Shurwayne Winchester

Shurwayne Winchester

Leave de grog by the gate.

That’s the advice from Shurwayne Winchester leading in to the first Christmas celebrations in T&T during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

With strict restrictions on large gatherings and legislation in place on mask-wearing and social distancing, many have mused over what Christmas would look like in 2020. Shurwayne’s solution is practical and fun. And best of all creates safe community connectivity.

“The idea was that of Preacher (Barnet Henry),” Shurwayne was sure to say when asked about the genius of his musical suggestion.

“He sent the idea and we completed composing the song together. From all accounts the song resonates with all and our current situation,” the soca crooner added when he spoke to the Kitcharee on WhtasApp on Thursday.

Music can uplift

Shurwayne says, music has the power to change moods. Historically during gloomy times people have turned to arts and entertainment to fuel their spirits, he said.

“It has been proven through depressions, war and downturns in an economy whereever a hole existed, people turned to entertainment if not to drown their predicament then to be uplifted with hope through melody and lyrical content, it offered hope, faith and love, showing it can change any situation,” he argued.

The two-time Road March King (2005 and 2006) said his responsibility is to remind Trinidad and Tobago nationals everywhere, and by extension the world at large, that the people of this land are resilient and still full of strength and humour.

“Today it’s no different; my role is to show who we are, where we came from, our resilience, our strength and our humour. We are flexible and I will give that fuel, that smile, that chord, that melody and lyrics that when Covid-19 and our economy smiles at us we will smile back,” he said

He said despite also feeling the economic and social impacts of the pandemic the role of the calypsonian is to comment on the events of the day and in doing so bring relief to the people. October is Calypso History month in T&T.

“We have to honour the role of calypsonians to educate, inform, and relieve the stress of our community. I am proud that I have started with this track. Don’t you even think for a moment ‘Yuh getting way’. All precautions followed, bring out the things them and leave the drinks by the gate,” he joked.

An opportunity for self-correction

All jokes aside Shurwayne admits, the pandemic has had a devastating effect on the entertainment sector. Without opportunities to perform, entertainers have had little to no earnings over the past seven months. Still, he sees it as an opportunity to fix the issues within the industry.

“Covid-19 destroyed my primary source of income and at the same time stimulated self-correction of many errors inherited in the way we practise our craft in our local industry,” he revealed.

“The elevation in self-discipline and a 360 turn from doing what we grew accustomed to, to what is the correct, but lengthy way because of all the mistakes in the past. This downturn showed my camp where, why and how we need to proceed and it’s a joy doing the work and seeing with my own eyes the benefit of believing in you sacrificing and working towards your goal.”

Shurwayne said artistic widening of scope will lead to more universal music. He said the cancellation of Carnival is an opportunity for local acts to feed their deserving public with quality, thoughtful compositions.

The “Born to Wine” singer is already walking that talk, having recently released the reggae single “True Love”, the dancehall collaboration “Lights Off” which features Jamaican singer Busy Signal (Glendale Gordon) and the Latin fuelled “Pom Pom”.

“No Carnival does not mean no music; It offers room for more content and a larger menu to our deserving fans which we stopped doing because of the target being events,” he said.

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