Caribbean Musical Explosion (CME) is set to stage the biggest calypso tribute this country has ever seen—so said event promoter and entertainer Elsworth James.
James said the calypso tribute—titled Tribute to the Musical Legends and set to be staged today at the Jean Pierre Complex, Port of Spain—is the first major calypso production in this country which will seek to honour icons of calypso past and present. Each honouree will receive $50,000. James's aim is not only to promote calypso, but also to preserve the artform. Calypso lovers, James said, will have an opportunity to go down memory lane and enjoy and experience some of the best calypsoes of years gone by. The show is part of Trinidad and Tobago's 50th anniversary of Independence.
"This is something you will never see in your life again; everybody should want to be a part of it. These are legends who have built the calypso landscape of this country and we wanted to honour them. I am very serious where our culture is concerned. Calypso is the first music to sell a million copies as an album; now music is being taken for granted," James said
"We looked back at the whole Independence celebration and while I enjoyed all the activities that took place, I looked and I saw that there was nothing major in place for calypso. I wanted to do something major so I approached the Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism and I approached the Minister of Tourism because we also wanted to get calypsonians from the region involved in the production and, from there, we started to put things in place for the production," James said.
He went on, "We have regional artistes coming to celebrate with their brothers and sisters in calypso music. It's a Caribbean party, so it's going to be a great show. Many people will be performing. It will be an atmosphere for dancing and great music. People will be taken back to great times and remember all the great hits of calypso. A lot of great musicians and calypsonians will pay tribute to those who have passed on. Phoenix and KV Charles will pay tribute to Mighty Sparrow, 3 Canal will tribute Andre Tanker, we have Drupatee paying tribute to Sundar Popo, and many many others will be performing on that night. We have the young ones like Timel Rivas and Aaron Duncan. It will be a great production," James said.
James describes the show as a "people's show". Earlier this year, the public was given an opportunity to choose the 50 calypsonians they wanted to see honoured through a call in programme facilitated on Wack Radio 90. Parang queen and icon Daisy Voisin made the list.
"We asked people to choose the 50 calypsonians and cultural icons they wanted to see honoured. The idea is to honour 50 legends and present each of them with $50,000—which is small token for the kind of contribution these guys made to build the calypso landscape of T&T," he added," James said.
He noted that relatives of those who have passed on will receive the cash on their behalf.
The 50 honourees include Merchant, Maestro, Lord Kitchener, Brigo, Jit Samararoo, Andre Tanker, David Rudder, SuperBlue, Sonny Man, Singing Francine, Ras Shorty I, Brother Superior, Clive "Zand" Alexander, Allrounder, Baron, Valentino, Mighty Bomber, Earl Rodney, Ed Watson, Joey Lewis, Errol Ince, Relator, Ray Holman, Roy Cape, Rudolph Charles, Scrunter, Winsford Devine, Bertie Marshall, Boogsie Sharpe and Calypso Rose.
A plethora of local and regional calypsonians and soca artistes are also scheduled to perform, including Chaka Demus & Pliers (Jamaica), Baron, Iwer George, Gypsy, Crazy, Drupatee, Ajala, Rikki Jai, Oscar B, Sallow (Antigua), Gabby (Barbados), King Stunky (St Maarten), Original De Fosto Himself, Ajumu (Grenada), Invader (St Lucia), Mighty Trini and Lornette and Fire Fusion Band and Winston Soso (St Vincent).
Back-up bands include Roy Cape All Stars, Pelham Goddard and Roots. Tommy Joseph, Sprangalang, Damien Melville and Al Joe are MCs. Showtime is 7 p.m. For tickets, call 223-5490, 223-5491 or 736-0741.