Brother Valentino

Brother Valentino: Life is a stage

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Staff Article
Interview Recorded: June 12, 2005
Posted: July 07, 2005

"Is a part they come out to play"

Brother Valentino
Anthony Emrold Phillip 'Brother Valentino'
When I left Grenada to come to Trinidad, would you believe when I landed, it was a Carnival Monday. I came down on what they used to call a 'Wind Jammer' long ago. They have sail and they have an engine. Sometimes you would use the sail if the engine breaks down. I was fortunate that we didn't have a breakdown. I can remember leaving Grenada between four and five o'clock in the evening. I wasn't aware that it was Carnival Sunday in Grenada; because at the age of five, Carnival Sunday in Grenada was just like a normal day. When we landed in Trinidad, while on our way to the home, (they were going to introduce me to up Long Circular Road inside Belle View gate), there was a steelband assembling right in front of the entrance, and they were knocking up their pans. That was my initiation. The name of the band was 'Cairo Steelband.' That was a Carnival Monday. I will never forget that. My mom will always refresh my memory by telling me, "Boy, is Carnival Monday you came here." Maybe I was destined for that. I thank the Master for the consistency. I thank him for never being despondent, never stagnant; for always functioning and always on the go. I realized that it was really my thing.

I have to say thanks to Mr. Koo. I had enough time to sing certain things for him and to quote little lines. He used to listen and he would say, "Yeah boy Robin, that sounding good." He gave me alot of encouragement. Sometimes he used to tell me to go and sing my kaiso, and if I wanted to do a little day work for him if I am broken, I could always come back. He was a very nice guy. That was where the thing started. After listening to 'Sparrow' and Mr. Koo, I had to go that way. This is a verse of 'Life Is a Stage'.
"Life is a stage
And we are the actors
And everybody have a part to play
Like a never ending movie
With all different characters
Each one has a role to portray
Down to the scavengers
And them barristers
All them doctors and lawyers
And these ministers
So this honourable this
And this honourable that
And this lady so and so
Is a part all these people playing
I want you to know
So don't blame the politician
Anytime you find you get bad administration
Oh no, that was meant to be
The fella is playing his role superbly
Now Don't blame the judges for their injustice
Why blame the criminals I say
Is a part they come out to play"
It just goes to show that without the criminals, we would not have any justice system. Criminality is something that people live on, and make millions of dollars. These judges and lawyers, they live off these criminals; so just imagine if people do not commit crime. The police too, wouldn't have any work. The criminal element in any society, you better believe that it is one of the most important and viable entities to them. They do not like me when I say these things because maybe I say the wrong thing. These things tend to put me in trouble. 'Life Is a Stage' is a song that put me in a lot of trouble too. But, that is the way I see things.

My wife Peggy is my right hand, my left hand, my eyeball and she is my inspiration. My wife really and truly is one of the reasons that I have been so successful and even to the point of stability. You must have somebody to keep you stable when you are singing Calypso, because all eyes are on you. Peggy has brought a lot of stability to my life. Her support was one hundred and ten percent. She is always with me; always by my side. If I have to go to a show and I have to reach for a certain time, she will nag me and make sure that I reach on time and that everything is in order. She bore me a beautiful son, Ade. In September he will be eighteen years old. He has never given us any problems. He is into the computers, but right now he is into his books. He presently lives with his grandmother in Port of Spain. He fascinates me. Sometimes I will have the biggest function to go to, and I will tell him that I will be coming to meet him. He would say to me, "Daddy hear this, I have to study tonight, I cannot go anywhere." He would tell me when he has to study.

At that age, these fellas and them have a way they could get around you if they want too... the peer pressure. But Ade is not on that. Tomorrow, 13th June, he is going to take his last subject: Spanish. Right now he is in the fifth form. He did exams already but he wasn't too happy about it so he did it over. The first time he got a three in Mathematics and he was very disappointed. He did over the exam and he got a two in Mathematics, and now he wants to go back and do the exam again. I find a two in Mathematics is very creditable. You have to be some kind of professor to get a one in Mathematics. I feel that because it is within such a short space of time, he should at least wait a while before he goes to do over the exam. He is going to go back to his old school to do Advanced Mathematics. Right now I am paying for his education, and I do not regret one cent. Sometimes when they are moving all right, you have to give them their credit. You have to make them know that you appreciate their behavior and their mannerism. My wife, Peggy has a lot to do with that too, because she is a sort of disciplinarian. With netball, she deals with all sorts of children. Although they are the most difficult to deal with outside of the classroom, she can handle them all.

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