Friday, February 23, 2018

Trinidad and Jamacia

as close as dancehall and soca


Mark Fraser

Local soca singer and Jamaican reggae veteran, Denise “Saucy Wow” Belfon and Clifton “Capleton” Bailey showed good form at separate events last weekend, even as the Christmas air and its accompanying showers dampened the capital city of Port of Spain.

While Belfon celebrated her forty-fifth birthday in fine style with a well-rounded performance, alongside the A-Team band at Club Zen, “The Prophet” thrilled patrons gathered at St John’s Hall for the inaugural “Jam World” concert.

In both instances, the events were really not very well promoted and did not attract sizeable audiences, yet still, the headline acts catered to their core fans in attendance and delivered memorable and engaging performances.

In lieu of the recent strife in diplomatic relations between Trinidad and Jamaica, we will hereby attempt to bring our two nations closer together by pointing out some fun facts and similarities between these two performers, as each took the stage at separate events on the same evening:

Denise “Saucy Wow” Belfon was born on November 23, 1968, in Trinidad and is known as a soca, R&B and gospel singer, songwriter and dancer. Born Clifton George Bailey III on April 13, 1967 in Saint Mary, Jamaica, “Capleton” is known as a reggae and dancehall artiste. Both acts are known for their diverse repertoires and engaging on-stage routines. While Belfon reigns supreme as the “Wining Queen” and has created a number of dances to accompany her songs, “Capleton” is known as “The Fireman” and “The Prophet” for his rastafarian beliefs and penchant for speaking out against injustice and inequality. However, even at this age, “Capleton” still delivers a very energetic performance and can often be seen jumping and waving during his sets.

In 1990, Belfon was discovered by bandleader, Roy Cape. She started singing professionally with the soca band Black Sheep, before moving on to Sound Revolution. Her first solo recording was the song, “Ka Ka Lay Lay”, which was a massive hit and launched her career in the arena. She has since scored a number of hits, including: “Hard Wuk”, “De Jammette”, “Saucy Baby”, “Indian Man” and “Wining Queen” among others.

Capleton got his first big international exposure in 1989, when the owner of a Toronto-based sound-system, Stewart Brown flew him to Canada to perform alongside “Ninjaman” and “Flourgan”. At the time of his entry, slackness and gun talk were the dominant lyrics in the dancehalls and thus, the pre-rasta Capleton had a string of hit songs from “Bumbo Red” to “Number One on the Look Good Chart” and “No Lotion Man”. His 1992 single, “Alms House” established his place in the dancehall arena and he followed with “Music is a Mission” and the massive hit “Tour”. By 1993, he was voicing tunes which became increasingly conscious, such as “Prophet” and “Cold Blooded Murderer”.

While “Capleton” got hands waving and lighters flashing with his aggressive posturing, anti-establishment arguments and favoured selections, “Saucy Wow” wowed her audience with classic disco, pop and soul covers, in addition to her own original hit songs. At the end of the night, both audiences left satisfied while wanting more, which is all that any established artiste can really ask for from their fans.