Tag Archives: Mighty Sparrow

globalFEST Announces 2019 Award Winners

globalFEST has announced the four 2019 winners. The awards honor four individuals for their exceptional, visionary, and inspiring contributions to the cultural landscape in the American performing arts field.

gF Artist Award  Mighty Sparrow / Slinger Francisco


Mighty Sparrow

83 year-old Slinger Francisco, better known as Mighty Sparrow and affectionately dubbed The Birdie, is the incomparable Calypso King of the World.

With a career that spans over 60 years and counting The Sparrow is one of the most important living exponents of one of Caribbean music’s most important traditions, known for a combination of politics, daily life, humor, innuendo and dance music. Sparrow continues to translate his witty island authenticity to the world, in a one-man demonstration of the role that culture plays in uniting humankind. 

gF Impact Award Leigh Ann Hahn

Leigh Ann Hahn

Leigh Ann Hahn, who started at Grand Performances in 1992, is an endlessly creative and innovative programmer. She is a leading figure in the world music performing arts field who has done a remarkable job producing free programs that pay homage to her beloved Los Angeles and its diverse communities with global breadth, depth and power.

Her programs are uniquely multidisciplinary and frequently shine a musical light on significant historical, political and social events. 

Matthew Covey

Tamizdat, founded in 1998 by Matthew Covey and a group of musicians, has become a critical organization in the performing arts and cultural exchange fields. Tamizdat’s work facilitates cultural exchange by easing the burden of the visa process for artists entering the U.S through their programs TamizdatAVAIL, legal visa assistance, outreach, the Artist Mobility Forum, The White Paper Project and other activities.

Their mission is motivated by the conviction that the international mobility of culture is fundamental to a healthy and progressive global civil society and their work has enabled thousands of artists to perform on stages across the country.

gF Pioneer Award Lee Williams

Lee Williams

Lee Williams has worked professionally as a venue booking agent, promoter, and non-profit arts leader since 1982, playing a defining role not only in the music culture and community identity of Bloomington, Indiana, but also as a champion of world music in North America.

A co-founder of the Lotus World Music & Arts Festival and founder of the non-profit Lotus Education and Arts Foundation, Lee served as Director of Lotus from 1995 to 2013 and as Artistic Director from 2014 through his retirement in 2017. He also co-led the creation of the Midwest Consortium, a professional and block-booking network for world-music presenters that now includes peers from across the US and Canada.

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Artist Profiles: Mighty Sparrow


Mighty Sparrow

Slinger Francisco, also known as Mighty Sparrow, was born on July 9, 1935 in Grand Roy, Grenada and migrated to Trinidad with his family when he was merely one year old.

He sang in the boys’ choir of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, where he learned Gregorian Chants and other church songs. Slinger Francisco was also influenced by American street quartets, pop and jazz songs by Nat King Cole and Frankie Laine, Sarah Vaughn, Billy Eckstein, Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, and the early calypso tunes of Lord Melody, Lord Kitchener, Lord Christo, Lord and the Mighty Spoiler.

At 20, Mighty Sparrow arose as the top Calypsonian with his record-breaking hit, Jean and Dinah. During the course of his career, he continued to release popular and influential albums with rabble-rousing lyrics and unwavering social commentary.

In 1958 Sparrow became the only calypsonian to have had a triple win, in the same year, in the Road March Competition. The calypsos included P.A.Y.E. (Pay As You Earn, a song that allowed the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago to comprehend the significance of paying taxes), Russian Satellite (a song exposing cruelty to animals) and Theresa (a song where, for the first time in his career, he used other languages).

In 1959 he released Federation, (a song that revealed his dissatisfaction over the breaking up of the planned Caribbean Federation). In 1960 he released more effective recordings such as May May and Leave the damn Doctor. Royal Jail and Ten to one is Murder followed in 1961.

Sparrow Come Back Home and Model Nation came out in 1962. Dan is the Man in the Van was released in 1963, the Village Ram in 1964 and Congo Man in 1965.

In total, Might Sparrow won Trinidad’s Carnival Road March competition eight times, Calypso King/Monarch eight times, and twice earned the Calypso King of Kings designation. He has released over 70 albums to his credit.

In 2019, Mighty Sparrow won the globalFEST Artist Award.

Selected recordings:

Soca Anthology
Sparromania!
The Mighty Sparrow, 25th Anniversary
Fyaah And Fury
Hot & Sweet
First Flight: Early Calypsos From The Emory Cook Collection

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