Kaiso No 6

Summer Calypso

Reports I have on the summer calypso competitions have been limited but enough for a first roundup report.  In Antigua, Onyan, the former lead singer of Burning Flames, took the calypso crown for the second year in a row while Burning Flames took the Road March.  In Barbados, it was Red Plastic Bag with the calypso crown and Lil Rick with the Party Soca Monarch.  In Grenada, the Beast won with the Scholar second in the calypso monarch while Inspector and Scholar tied for the Soca Monarch.   Black Wizzard was ill and unable to compete in the calypso competition.

Shirlane Hendrickson

In getting ready for my NC trip I chatted briefly with 1998 Calypso Queen Shirlaine Hendrickson and she reported she was just back from Ghana!  She had performed as the only Caribbean artist at the First Emancipation Day fest there.  She said the title track to her latest CD, African Renaissance, was well received and people got down to her Wuk It Up from the same CD.

Whaler and Gorilla

Since we are talking about Ghana, here is an earlier calypso about a trip to that country.  It came from a 1959 lyric booklet.  Otherwise, I have no information on who Whaler is.
Whaler - Whaler's Visit to Ghana

This ain't no rumour
Last year I went up to Ghana
This ain't no rumour
Last year I went up to Ghana
I want the public to understand
It was myself and Dr Patrick Solomon
When I reach up there I couldn't make a note
They were only feeding me on Coo-Coo and goat

I'm going back, I'm going back
I'm going back to Ghana
I'm going back to Ghana if you please
Because I can't eat the food in the West Indies

They might call me a liar
You should be there the day I landed in Accra
People from all over the country
Came to town just to see me
What make them feel better
When they saw I was a descendant of Africa
You know they wouldn't leave me alone
Telling me it is time for us to come back home

I'm going back, I'm going back
I'm going back to Ghana
I'm going back to Ghana if you please
Because I can't take the life in the West Indies

This one is history
The day they invited me to the party
Up came the usher
She took me straight to Dr Nkrumah
I nearly jumped clean out my pants
When the Doctor held the Duchess and started to dance
Things was getting hot for so
Then they ask me to render a calypso
That's why

I'm going back, I'm going back
I'm going back to Ghana
I'm going back to Ghana if you please
Because I don't want no wife in the West Indies

Listen to my reason
Why I had to speak to Mr Nixon
I told him I would like Ghana
To be just like America
Up came Dr Jagan
Who in turn made a few suggestions
I didn't want no place
I'm sorry to say
Because I woke up in my cowshed in Claxton Bay.

Anyone know more about Whaler?  Another calypsonian for whom I have only very sketchy information is Gorilla.

Gorilla (Charlie Grant)

Newcomer in 1934 singing at the Metro Dome cinema in Port-of-Spain with The Bailiff and the Poor Tenant.  His two 1939 compositions, Bad Oxygen and Empty Belly were banned for bad taste.  His song about the refusal to allow Jewish refugees asylum, Jews in the West Indies was also banned.  In 1939, he also was one of the founders of the Trinidad Calypso and Musicians Association.  He took third in a 1940 calypso competition.  He sang Hitler, the Scampish Devil in 1941.  He recorded only a couple tunes, only two of which were released, Appetite and Bramrootoo Dance.  After many years of not being heard of he issued a challenge to other calypsonians in the Guardian during the 1959 season to sing against them on any subject.   No one is known to have taken up the challenge.

Internet Notes:

The Internet continues to be a place to find everything and more things all the time.  Look for a book, try www.interloc.com which has a massive database of books.  I find the copy of the 1956 Virgin Islands calypso lyric book.  But there I just missed getting an album I had only recently heard existed, Lord Christo in Jamaica on the Kalypso label.  Anybody able to tape this for me?  WLIB was advertising www.caribbeannewspapers.com as a website that conveniently collects all the sites for caribbean newspapers.

Then, to get more directly to calypso and Soca, Gil Figaro told me he just got a site up on the Net.  Check out   www.sunshineawards.com   which offers information on the 10th anniversary awards that are set to take place on October 24 at Tribeca Performing Arts Center in Manhattan.  The site also lists all the winners and nominees over the last decade and who have become inductees for the hall of fame.   Lastly, there is a press release up at the site for the soon to be released track, Song for Montserrat featuring Sparrow, Rudder, Chalkdust and many others.

Next week more news on the 1946 concert set but I got distracted on other things this week.

Ray Funk

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