Brother Valentino

Brother Valentino: Life is a stage

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

If 'Sparrow' say is so, is so

Brother Valentino and The Mighty Sparrow
Brother Valentino &
The Mighty Sparrow

Apart from the Calypso, it was the Rock 'n' Roll era with Bill Haley and those guys. The Meringue from Venezuela came in as well, so we had three major types of music to deal with: the Calypso, the Rock 'n' Roll and the Meringue. That is how the Calypso competition started in Trinidad and Tobago. The first competition was the Meringue, and then the Rock and Roll came in, so we had three influences in Trinidad. The Calypso was always the most dominating factor, because it related to the people's lifestyle better than any of the other music. It was your lifestyle; a reflection of a people's life style.

The time when they had the 'chicken chest' issue, was for real. It was a time when they had just introduced the commodity on the market. We didn't know anything about the chicken chest and the chicken parts; it was something new and it was also easily accessible. The issue was about this woman who had taken a box of chicken and hid it under her dress. The character in the song that 'Cristo' used as 'Constable Best' really referred to Randolph Borroughs. He was the one who arrested the woman. This is just telling you how the Calypso used to relate to things happening. That incident was in the people's newspapers. Back then we had the Gazette News Papers. It is only now, in this modern society that more people are checking out the news in the papers. In my era, not many people, especially the average person, bought the newspapers to read. The people depended more on the Calypsonians for specific information. Even the era following that, there was a slang: "If 'Sparrow' say is so, is so."

Calypso really and truly is part of us. It is our thing and we should cherish it. We should really and truly try to show the world that Calypso is not the type of music about falling in and out of love. If you check all of the American pop songs that those guys are making the millions with, it is always about somebody falling in love or falling out of love. They never tell you about the issues of the day, or the things that are happening in America. 'Swamp Dog' tried to do that and they banned him on the airwaves.

It is a different kind of culture, and I find that we are trying too hard to fall victim to the American culture. I guess it is the fast buck kind of thing. The fast buck is a gamble, because today you may lose some and tomorrow you may win some and so on. What is the sense in a person trying to be on the hustle and not trying to do something positive which will last, so that when people like you all come, they will have a story to tell? As it is now, can you go and interview anyone of those guys? What would they have to tell you?


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