Black Prince: Life as a calypsonian not easy

Pages: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07

Staff Article
Interview Recorded: May 30, 2005
Posted: July 05, 2005

The Letter

Kenroy Smith 'Black Prince'
Kenroy Smith 'Black Prince'
The next year I sang a song called, 'Make Carnival a Holiday'. After that the tent closed down. I started going from tent to tent over the years, but most of my years I was really with Sparrow. There were many tents during that period of time, and I was in all the tents. The only tent I never performed in was The Masters Den. Late in the '80's into the '90's, I performed for about two years in Kitchener's tent. Then there was another tent, which Winston Maynard opened by the name of Vintage. That was either '90 or '91. I cannot remember the exact year, but I was in that tent, and that was up Henry Street.

Coming down from the tent, Claude Martineau called me, and he asked me if I wanted to sing by them. I told him yes, and he told me all right, the next year. Before that time had come (the year had to run till the season came), during that time, I heard that they were around George Street looking for me. I went there, and they suggested to me that I come with the guitar. They would have three and four auditions, and I passed all.

I was a nervous kind of fella and that was my problem. To face that crowd wasn't easy. I used to take a drink, and like the drink was one drink too many, so it was like the crowd used to be facing me. (Laughter) Because of that, they used to put me on the bench.

When you are not singing in the tent, they say you are on the bench. Well I have been on that bench so long, that I became the foreman of the bench. That went on until they called me in and they talked to me. That was in 1993 when I sang 'The Letter', and that was really the break I got. Up to that time, it was thirty-eight years. It took me thirty-eight years to become an overnight success.

Employment was difficult at the time, and I was looking for some employment, so I went to the Maximum Prison. At the time they had a big contract going on up there, so I decided to go and try something. I went there for about three months, and every time I went they told me to check the Parish Priest, get a letter from the Police Commissioner and check the Minister for the area and bring a letter from all of them. I got fed up, but then things just started clicking and coming together, and I started putting my thing together. It was the fastest calypso I ever made. From that Maximum Prison, I crossed that river. Since that I have arthritis. (Laughter).

When I crossed that river and I reached home, I pulled my tape and started one time. All I did was fine tune it. I took out a word here and a word there and surprisingly that was the calypso that did the trick for me. I called it 'The Letter.' Since that it has been good.


Pages: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07

Homepage | Carnival Features