Black Prince: Life as a calypsonian not easy

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

When God cannot come he sends a man

Kenroy Smith 'Black Prince'
Kenroy Smith 'Black Prince'
One of the things which is most important and what I would like you all to know is that in 1993 when I was in the tent, I sat down a night and David Rudder passed. He said, "Yuh see you, I have to do something for you." That was all he told me that night. Before the season finished, he said, "Leave your number by Frank and them for me." I left the number with Frank, but he didn't call me. Coming into the 1994 season, he still didn't tell me anything. A day I was coming up town walking up the bridge and I saw this car pull up and he said, "Go back to the Engine Room; they are expecting you to put down some calypsos." I put down about thirty calypsos. He called me a few days after and he told me they picked seven. They put five on the CD. That is what really gave me the recognition. I owe that to David Rudder, because he is the man that caused that.

I would like to say thanks to Lord Pretender, and David Rudder who made me get recognized in the thing, and Martineau who created the guitar thing. All my experiences were not bad. In the late half after I made fifty, some people say when you are young is one thing, and when they get old it is another. Everything just turned around when I reached fifty years. But those three people are the three people who made the most important contributions to my life. I always have to be grateful to them.

Another thing people say is that Prince cannot sing with a band. All those years I am in all those tents, is band I used to perform with. But they listened to songs sung with bands, and they still say that Prince cannot sing with band. The only calypso sung without a band was 'The Letter'. I am grateful to these three folks, and I am thankful to God for sending them. They have a saying, "When God cannot come he sends a man." He sent three men. Do you see how much help I needed? One man couldn't do it; he sent three men. It is going through frustration that caused me to come up with a song that was good. I know that you cannot have two lifetimes, but when I meet frustration so, to face that and overcome, I told myself that it has to have two life times. Maybe you might make certain mistakes, or do certain things wrong because you know what happened in that lifetime. I am a fella when I am under frustration, I do my best work, or at least what I consider my best work.

Another thing in calypso is, when you have two or three hits or popular songs, every time you go to do a show, the promoter tells you, you have to do that, or the people come in and they expect you to do that. You might have twenty-four songs, but they are familiar with five, and you are forever doing five songs. What happens to the rest of songs? It is not that the rest of songs are not good; it may even have one or two better than what they know. That is another thing what we have here with the people. I take some of my songs and I do a master tape. I still have three more to put on because it is twenty-one songs (in all).

People asked me why I don't do the best of Black Prince? My reply is, I am not finished singing as yet. I think it is a matter of timing, and also the money you have to put out to put those things together too. People change. Everybody might have a different type of song; so you tell yourself you are putting all, and do a CD. When you put all and do a CD, a man will want to buy it, but he will like one song, and then say he doesn't like the next song. So because of the song he doesn't like, he will not buy the CD. People are very funny. Sometimes you do a show and somebody will ask you, "Why you didn't sing that, I thought you woulda sing that."


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