PERFORMING AT RUSSO TENT: Diane "Lady Wonder" Hendrickson performing at the launch of the Klassic Russo tent last month. —Photos: CURTIS CHASE

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Lady Wonder asks serious questions about T&T

By Zahra Gordon

Diane "Lady Wonder" Hendrickson is speaking loudly about some of the social issues facing Trinidad and Tobago with her Carnival 2012 offering of "Iceberg of Contention."  "The song is all about Trinidad and Tobago. It is mainly a social commentary based on the challenging situations that have been occurring in Trinidad and Tobago for quite a while such as crime, the economy and poverty," says Hendrickson.

The two-time National Calypso Queen (1996, 1997) is hoping to take this song all the way to the Queen's Park Savannah stage. Hendrickson says the song is already popular at the Klassic Russo Calypso Tent where she is based this year. "I'm called back when I perform the calypso. I hear things like, 'You're going straight to the Savannah.' And these are encouraging words to me as the artiste but all I can do is put my request in to God. I've made semi-finals on several occasions but I've never been a finalist. I've been part of Dimanche Gras as a background vocalist or an actress but not as a finalist."

As a backup singer for her father, Anthony "All Rounder" Hendrickson since her youth, Hendrickson continues to uphold the family business and "Iceberg of Contention" can be found on the 10-track album Garlic Sauce in collaboration with her father and sister, Shirlane Hendrickson. The CD is a mix of various genres which, Hendrickson notes, affords the group staying power. "The CD is a combination of serious social commentary, humour, party, groovy soca, and R&B. We wanted to have pieces that can last after Carnival. We didn't want to be too political although it touches our lives. We wanted the cd to go international. Our cd can fit local markets, regional markets and international markets. You have pieces for any occasion. It also gives the public a mixture of experience and youth."

While Hendrickson's other release "Party People" speaks about the rhythm and colour of Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago, "Iceberg of Contention" is in vein with previous Hendrickson songs such as "Granny's Prediction" and "Calypso Pledge" which seek to enlighten the population. "My offerings must never be superficial. I must always sing calypso with depth. I must always inform."

With this year's offering Hendrickson is asking serious

questions about her country and its direction. "We're very, very blessed here. You see people dancing on the promenade and somewhere else people are taking oaths to drive a vehicle and blow up a place. It starts with you, what do you want to do? What is your vision for you? How do you see you in the next five years? What do you want for you? What other things do you wish to acquire? Are those things necessary? What are your wants and what are your needs?"

The song also delves into the need for both personal and public change in society. "I think the authorities should play more attention to here. While I appreciate the role to help regionally, we need to pay attention here. What is happening in the schools? What is happening at home? If your foundation home is not solid what you will get is a product that can easily fall apart. So we need to constantly evaluate."

"Iceberg of Contention" was written by Shirlane, who has been Hendrickson's composer since her debut as a solo artiste in 1979. Hendrickson says she's never missed a Carnival season and is proud that she has always worked with family on her various musical projects. "She's my composer, my friend and my sister. It's a natural thing for us to operate as a family unit. We've been programmed. My mom and dad were always sticklers for foundations and family values. That is extremely important to us. We do shows together, we pray together, we cook together, we lime together and the production of the CD is always a family affair." And to be sure that the family business ran as professionally and efficiently as possible, Hendrickson has studied record engineering and taken voice training in addition to academic studies. All her work has been towards longevity of her career. "From 79 to now, one would have gained more experience. At that time background vocals were heard but not seen. Eventually background vocalists started to share part of the limelight."

Yet, whether Hendrickson makes it to the Savannah stage or not, she is adamant that music will always remain with her. "I will never stop singing kaiso," says Hendrickson.  

Diane "Lady Wonder" Hendrickson is the manager of New City Mall on Independence Square, Port of Spain. She won the Junior Calypso Monarch at age eight and was first-runner up in the inaugural Young Kings Competition in 1985. Hendrickson has won the National Calypso Queen Competition in 1996 and 1997 and represented Trinidad and Tobago at the World Calypso & Soca Monarch Competition in Connecticut, USA. She was also the first female candidate for TUCO presidency in 2002.

Garlic Sauce is available at Crosby's music outlets throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

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