TUCO Calypso Gala 2015
On Thursday 29th October, 2015, the Globe cinema, located on the corner of Park and St. Vincent streets, Port of Spain, was teeming with calypsonians both young and old, musicians, their guests and lovers of the calypso art-form for the TUCO Calypso Gala 2015. This event was held under the patronage of Dr. Keith Christopher Rowley, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Its theme—Kaiso…the Global Experience—celebrated calypso from its roots in Trinidad and Tobago to its journey to the rest of the world.
The scene at the Globe cinema was ostensibly an early start to the 2016 carnival season with popular J’ouvert characters such as Baby Doll, Midnight Robber, Pierrot Grenade and Fancy Sailor greeting guests upon arrival and a myriad of calypsonians and other persons involved in the business sharply dressed mingling with their comrades as though backstage at a prestigious calypso competition.
Before the formal start of the ceremony guests filled the entrance room of the old cinema and were treated with wines and other fermented beverages as well as a medley of old-school calypsos by Neil ‘Abebele’ Baptiste who warmed up the thick gathering in anticipation of things to come.
The official phase of the gala was initiated with a prayer by Reverent Deacon Lennox Toussaint followed by welcome remarks by TUCO president Mr. Lutalo Masimba who called for greater recognition of the calypso art-form by the powers that be and for educators and other informed elders to be more vociferous in promoting the culture to young ones. The event was co-hosted by well-known rapso artiste Omari Ashby and Dr. Jo-anne Tull.
Following Mr. Masimba’s speech was the feature address presented by Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts Dr. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly who praised TUCO for its work in keeping Trinidad and Tobago culture alive and pledging the government’s support in the future initiatives of the organisation. In keeping with the vibe of celebration, Abebele sang Happy Birthday extempo-style to the minister who was also bequeathed with a bouquet of flowers by TUCO Public Relations Officer Mr. Karega Mandela.
Dr. Rudolph Ottley, who was recently awarded his doctoral degree then presented the history of calypso which, because of the volume of this history, was unavoidably extensive. He began the story of calypso with the music of the enslaved Africans who used it as a protest music or music to encapsulate day to day experiences on the plantations. Ottley then journeyed through the early twentieth century with the first recordings of calypso in 1912; the voyages of several calypsonians to the United States and later to England to spread calypso further; the birth of the Calypso Craze with Harry Belafonte at the head of the movement; and other important international contributions of calypso music, including Lord Kitchener’s tribute to Ghanaian independence.
Following the history lesson, there was the presentation of awards interspersed with some calypso performances by Desle Julian who performed a tribute to the Mighty Sparrow; Henson Wright with “Power of the Drums”; Sean Daniel with “Character”; Anthony ‘All Rounder’ Hendrickson with “Blacks Ability”; reigning National Junior Calypso Monarch Aaron Duncan with “Grammy Awards”; Ginelle Bharat with “Chords”; performances marking the international decade for people of African descent by Selwyn ‘Brother J’ James with ‘The Lion Roar’, Carey ‘Kinte’ Stephens with “Mandingo Man” and Dr. Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool with “Ain’t See Africa At All”; “Every Knee Shall Bow” by Karene Ashe; “Ever-living Calypso by Allan ‘Brother Mudada’ Fortune; and “Stay Up Zimbabwe” by Anthony Emrold ‘Brother Valentino’ Phillip.
Providing musical accompaniment for these calypsonians was the band Temperature led by Oral Rodriguez and chorus by The Pips.
The awards and awardees:
Outstanding Contribution to the Calypso Organisation / Mr. Hammidulah Wahid
Employee Long Service Award – Ms. Bernice Carr; Ms. Cheryl – Ann Joseph
Contribution to the Design and Promotion of Calypso History Month – Mr. Elton Scantlebury
Long and Distinguished Contribution to Calypso Music – Mr. Fitzroy Coleman
Supporting Vocalist – Long and Distinguished Contribution to Calypso Music – Ms. Marilyn Williams; Ms. Ramona Moraldes Pompie
Long and Distinguished Contribution to the Calypso Artform – Ms. Abbi Blackman; Mr. Reginald ‘Companero’ Best; Mr. Sylvester ‘Poser’ Lockhart; Ms. Marvah ‘Marvelous Marva’ Joseph; Mr. Irwin ‘Scrunter’ Johnson; Mrs. Ann Marie ‘Twiggy’ Parks-Kojo; Mr. Winston ‘The Original De Fosto Himself’ Scarborough; Ms. Dianne ‘Lady Wonder’ Hendrickson; Mr. Yafeu ‘Rootsma’ Osei (collected by his brother Keith Smart)
Lifetime Achievement Awards – Mr. Edwin ‘Crazy’ Ayoung; Mr. Willard ‘Relator’ Harris; Mr. Austin ‘Suberblue’ Lyons; Mr. Kenroy ‘Black Prince’ Smith; Mr. Orthnel ‘Tobago Crusoe’ Bachus.
Sound Engineer / Producer – Mr. Martin ‘Rice’ Raymond
Special Appreciation – Media for their Contribution in the Promotion of the Calypso Artform – Mr. Winston Maynard; Mr. Ian Lee Sing
Special Appreciation-Research/Archivist – Professor Gordon Rohlehr
Calypso Tent Managers/Promoters – Mr. Clive Maingot (YMG Promotions) (collected by his son Sheldon Maingot); Mr. Rawle ‘Roachie’ Roachford (Docksite Tobago) (collected by his son); Mr. Aiegoro Ome (NACC)
Promotion of the Community Based Calypso Tent – Ms. Vandaly ‘Lady Tiny’ Wares
Outstanding Calypsonian Achiever – Mr. Neil ‘Iwer’ George
Special Award for Film Production – Mr. Andrew ‘Bother Superior’ Marcano and Mr. Geoffrey Down for the film production of Calypso Dreams.
The evening closed with a vote of thanks by calypsonian Devon Seales ending an auspicious evening celebrating calypso in fine style.
TUCO Calypso Gala 2015 in pictures: