Saturday, December 16, 2017

Artistes earn applause for anti-crime moves

Express editorial logo413

Mark Fraser

 In heightened anxiety over the last two weeks, nearly everyone has been talking about crime, but few have even conceived of the possibility of themselves doing something about it. In a heartening reminder of Trinidad and Tobago resources in reserve, a stellar group of performance artistes has assumed a vanguard role in raising consciousness and promoting citizens’ capacity to declare, in word and deed, a war against crime. 

With a song, “Stop the Crime”, released online last week, a T&T artistes’ coalition, comprising more than one dozen entertainment big names, has taken leadership in rallying public morale against crime. “Crime in Trinidad has gone overboard, especially murder,” said calypsonian Crazy (Edwin Ayoung). “That we have come down to someone such as Dana Seetahal being shot to death like that tells us how far gone things are,” he added.

Performers of calypso, soca, chutney, and related T&T forms combined with producer Rishi Mahatoo and business backer Mohan Jaikaran to deliver a battle hymn for this republic now besieged by crime. “We have to try to turn this battle cry into another anthem,” say lyrics penned by Crazy and Winsford “Joker” Devine.

“Stop The Crime, “ collectively voiced by, among others, International Chutney Soca Monarch KI (Kris Persad), reigning National Calypso Monarch Chucky (Roderick Gordon), Black Stalin (Leroy Calliste), Blaxx (Dexter Stewart), Olatunji Yearwood, Stinky, Prophet Benjamin (Devon Samuel), Baron (Timothy Watkins Jr), Singing Sandra (Sandra des Vignes), Sugar Aloes (Michael Osouna) and Natalie Yorke, marks an historic and exemplary forward step for T&T artistes.

The production recalls the 1985 coming together of an American A-list, that included Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Lionel Richie, Bruce Springsteen, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Kenny Rogers to rally US and world support for then famine-stricken Africa.  Their song, “We Are The World”, sold millions, and boosted a fund-raising effort to relieve suffering in Africa. In rapid response to “We Are The World”, a correspondingly top-flight group of Caribbean entertainers also sang out together for Africa in the 1986 production, “Now Is The Time”. 

Crazy has been moved to adopt an activist posture against crime. From the recording studio and the performance stage, he is now ready to take to the streets: “We are going to have a march against crime, with all the artistes walking through Port of Spain.” 

On behalf of colleague artistes, he expressed admirable confidence and determination: “We have the pen, the music, and we can get the people to stand with us. Somehow, some way, we must find a solution to put an end to this.”

Against crime, T&T has seen the supposedly best efforts of politicians on all sides fall short of credible effectiveness. If the artistes are now bidding for leadership against crime, their efforts are at least worthy of applause.