A good calypso has no expiry date.
That was the sentiment expressed by host Omari Ashby following calypso veteran Pink Panther’s poignant performance of his kaiso classic “Misprint” at the Trinbago Unified Calypso Organisation (Tuco) gala and awards ceremony, last Thursday evening, at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s.
Tuco presented awards in several categories to its long serving members, supporters and promoters during a three-hour-long presentation ceremony punctuated with impressive performances. The gala wrapped the organisation’s Calypso History Month celebrations.
Panther (Eric Taylor), was perhaps the most memorable of the guest acts. The Kalypso Revue singer landed some potent lyrical blows when he reworked the punch lines in the chorus of his 1998 hit song, much to the delight of his calypso contemporaries that half-filled the hall.
He was critical of former United National Congress (UNC) MP turned People’s National Movement (PNM) supporter Colin Partap; the recent UNIPET strike; and the sexual assault of comedienne Nikki Crosby in Venice, Italy.
Crosby said in a social media post earlier this week that while waiting outside her hotel in the northern Italian city, she was approached by two Russian men who wanted her picture. The men then “violently grabbed” her breast, she said. She later posted video footage of the handcuffed men being taken away by Italian police.
On Thursday Panther sang:
I say Partap likes to think, yuh know they put Partap likes to drink/I say I went to get meh son a bike, they put that UNIPET want to strike/I say Nikki Crosby she went to Venice, they put a Russian man touch up she business/But cross my heart I never say so, yuh know they misprint meh calypso.
Panther further intrigued them when he stopped shy of delivering the final punch line of his last chorus and motioned towards guest of honor President Paula-Mae Weekes, who was seated in the front row.
“I should sing this part?” a smiling Panther coyly asked as he tilted his head towards the attentive head of state.
Egged on by the vociferous cheers from the audience he brought the backing Len Cummings & the Wailers band to a hush and sang a capella: “I say ah went with meh friends to get some souse, they put no girlfriends at President’s house. But cross meh heart I never say so…”
Stopping abruptly he bowed and left the audience, President Weeks included, singing “they misprint meh calypso.”
A subtle tool of resistance
Tuco general secretary Wayne McDonald said calypso’s unique ability to bring the sentiments of the working class to the ears of their political leaders made it a subtle tool of resistance.
“Whereas our colonial history books falsely chronicled our history as a relationship that primarily operated at the elite level, calypso was able to bring a perspective that inherently articulated the thoughts and feelings of the lower class. With its subtle use of metaphors, irony and masking, calypso always put up resistance against the colonial hegemonic order,” McDonald said during his address.
McDonald said calypso music also served to change perspectives and educate nationals about the truth of their past. He quoted author Earl Lovelace: “Our history is not the colonialism and slavery. Our history is our struggle against enslavement and colonialism.”
Empowering the listener, he said, is therefore the calypsonian’s greatest accomplishment.
“In the post-Emancipation period the immediate task for freed men and women was to build new lives and identities and calypso has continued to be an essential part of this design going forward. Long live calypso,” he concluded to passionate applause.
A lifetime of good music
Veteran calypsonians Chalkdust (Dr Hollis Liverpool) and Calypso Rose (Dr McArtha Sandy-Lews) and legendary music producer Dr. Pelham Goddard were all presented with Tuco’s prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award for their sterling service to the genre.
Unfortunately Goddard was the only one of the three on hand to physically collect the honour. An appreciative lifetime achievement award winner lifted his trophy victoriously to rousing applause.
The veteran music maker is responsible for some of calypso music most iconic hits including: Calypso Rose’s 1977 Road March winner “Tempo”, David Rudder’s 1986 Road March winner “Bahia Girl” and Chis “Tambu” Herbert hattrick of road titles “This Part is It” (1988), “Free Up, Free Up” (1989) and “No, No, We Ent Going Home” (1990).
Goddard also produced six of SuperBlue’s (Austin Lyons) tne Road March titles including: “Soca Baptist” (1980), “Ethel” (1981), “Rebecca” (1986), “Get Something and Wave” (1991), “Wine on Something” (1992) and “Bacchanal Time” (1993).
National Carnival Commission (NCC) CEO Colin Lucas and soca star Machel Montano were presented calypso achiever awards by TUCO on the night. Lucas was absent from the event and Montano, who is currently abroad, had his mother Elizabeth collect the honour on his beahalf.
Entertainer Sprangalang (Dennis Hall) was presented with a special award for Distinguished Contribution to Art and Culture. Sprang, who is ailing, had his wife reigning National Action Cultural Committee (NACC) Calypso Queen, Sexy Suzie (Natasha Nurse) collect on his behalf. Suzie later dedicated the performance of her title winning “De Wrong Name” to the legendary comedian/singer.
TUCO 2019 Awardees
Lifetime Achievement Award
Chalkdust (Dr Hollis Liverpool)
Calypso Rose (McArtha Sandy-Lewis)
Special Award – Calypsonian Achiever
Distinguished Contribution to Art and Culture
Sprangalang (Dennis Hall)
Long and Distinguished Service to Calypso
The Last Badjohn of Calypso (Kurt Allen)
Heather Mac Intosh
Amuser (Carlton Thompson)
Manchild (Carlton Collins)
Stinger (Dexter Parsons)
Count Robin (Randolph Hilliaire)
King Wellington (Hawthorne Wellington)
Tobago Rio (Kenrick Andrews)
Long and Devoted Service to Calypso
Chicky Chung (Lennox Francis
Xposer (Moses Munroe)
Brother Alpha (Alpha John)
Dr Will B (William Bannister)
Lasana (Denis Cox)
Junior Calypso Achiever Award
Supporting Vocalist Long and Distinguished Contribution to Calypso Music
Outstanding Contribution to the Calypso Music — Sound Engineer/Producer
Outstanding Contribution to the Calypso Music – Promoter
Special Appreciation — Musician
Big D (Dennis Wilkinson
Special Appreciation — Media:
Special Appreciation — Researcher/Archivist:
Special Appreciation for the contribution to TUCO
Gloria Charles Pantin
Carylyle Babb (Posthumous)
Outstanding Contribution to the Calypso Organisation
Brother J (Selwyn James)
Rhapsody (Tyronne Thomas)