Tag Archives: Trinidad and Tobago

Artist Profiles: Tony Guppy

Tony Guppy

Tony Guppy was born and raised in Success Village Laventille P.O.S (Trinidad). The youngest of five brothers, he was exposed to steel drum music at a very young age.

Anthony first started playing the steel drums in his eldest brother’s (Herman Guppy) band; the members consisted of family and friends.

In 1990 he toured Sweden, Germany and Denmark. In 1993 Guppy was 3rd in “pan ramajay” soloist competition held in Trinidad & Tobago. Guppy, who had been abroad performing on a cruise ship for the previous four months, returned home on the night before the competition. On the following day, upon hearing of the contest, he decided to enter. The following year he won the1st place in the “pan ramajay” soloist contest.

In 1995, he recorded on Kitchener’s album, Ah have it Cork. The following years he performed at the Milwaukee-summer festival with the Pandigenous band. He also played in Disneyland and other theme parks in California with the Trinidad & Tobago Show-boat Band.

Guppy is currently based in Japan, performing in places like Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Hiroshima, Osaka, Fukuoka, Miyazaki and Okinawa. In 2004 he toured with Japanese singer-songwriter and guitarist, Shoichi Matusnaga.
Guppy has acquired a lot of his musical knowledge from working and performing with some of the top entertainers in Trinidad & Tobago and abroad, Robert Monroe, Rudy Smith, Ralph Davies, Terrance Shaw, Earl Rodney, Sean Thomas,Curtis & Felix Ruiz, Len Boogsie Sharpe, and Joe Cea.

Discography:

Another Side Of Me (2006)

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Artist Profiles: Desperadoes Steel Orchestra

Desperadoes Steel Orchestra in 2009

Desperadoes Steel Orchestra hails from Laventille, Port of Spain, Trinidad and traces its beginnings back to the 1940s. Desperadoes is considered by many to be simply the finest steel orchestra in the world.

Discography:

Carnival In Trinidad (RCA Victor, 1965)
Triple Winners (1966)
Caribbean Holiday (Tropico/RCA, 1966)
Steelband Fiesta (Tropico, 1967)
Calypso Rock (Despers Productions , 1971)
Classics With the Giants (Bestway)
Desperadoes (Charisma, 1981),
The Magical Music Of Despers (Charlie’s, 1991),
The Jammer (1991)
Live at Holder’s, Barbados (1998)
Steel in the Classics (Rituals Music, 1999)

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Steelpan Maestro Cliff Alexis Dies

Cliff Alexis

Steelpan master and educator Cliff Alexis died on January 29, 2019.

Cliff Alexis was born in Trinidad and Tobago in 1937.  He started playing steelpan at age 14 in various steel bands in the St. James/Woodbrook area.  From 1951 to 1964, Alexis performed in various steel bands such as Trinidad Triopoli, Stereo-Phonics, Invaders and Hit Paraders.  In 1964, Alexis traveled to the United States as a member of the National Steelband of Trinidad and Tobago. He toured the Caribbean, South America, Africa, Europe and the United States with the ensemble.

After the tour, Alexis moved to the United States in 1965.  In Brooklyn, New York, he arranged for BWIA Sunjets, and performed with his own band called Cliff Alexis Trinidad Troubadours.

Alexis was hired by St. Paul Public School District 625 in the state of Minnesota for 12 years, where he worked as a steelband director and tuner.  On two occasions, Alexis received the prestigious Minneapolis/St. Paul “Outstanding Black Musician” award.

In 1985, he joined the staff of the Northern Illinois University School of Music.  Together with Al O’Connor, he created steelpan studies program where students could major in steelpan as a primary instrument.  His responsibilities included maintaining and upgrading the school’s large inventory of steel pans, arranging, composing and co-directing the NIU Steelband with Liam Teague.

He was the recipient of numerous awards from the Percussive Arts Society, Pan Trinbago, Trinidad and Tobago Folk Arts Institute, Northern Illinois University and others. Additionally, he was inducted into the Sunshine Hall of Fame with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.  In 2011, Alexis was featured in the film titled “Hammer and Steel” produced by the University of Akron and Public Broadcasting System (PBS).

In November, 2013, Alexis was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame. 

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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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Artist Profiles: The Renegades

The Renegades

The Renegades is the most famous steel band from Trinidad and Tobago. In 1997 they won their third consecutive “Panorama” (National Championship) and entered in the Steel Drum legend.

The Renegades are from East Port-of-Spain. They receive standing ovations during their performances, mesmerizing audiences with their varied repertoire comprising classical, pop and calypso pieces.

Discography:

Pan Man Vibrations ‎(Mélodie, 2001)

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Steel Pan Melting Pot

Steel Pan Fusion – Melting Pot

Steel Pan Fusion – Melting Pot (Steel Pan Fusion, 2017)

Steel Pan Fusion is an excellent London band led by Trinidadian steel pan maestro and composer Wade Austin. He takes the versatile steelpan to the exciting world of jazz fusion with a group of skilled colleagues that add electronic keyboards, creative drumming, funk bass, soca, world music elements and other tasty ingredients.

The lineup includes Wade Austin and David Vine on steel pan, Sam Blue Agard on drums, Liam Joseph on bass, Phillip Harper on percussion, Andre Louis and Joe McGrail on keyboards, and Adriano Rosetti-Bonell on saxophone and flute.

Two additional pannists appear as guests: Daiel Louis and Delphina James.

Melting Pot delivers superb fusion highlighting the steel pan.

Buy Melting Pot

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Artist Profiles: Len Boogsie Sharpe

Born in Port of Spain, Trinidad in 1953 ‘Boogsie’ as he is known began to play the steelpan at the age of three. The beginning of a career that has seen him as a player composer and arranger taking the steel pan to new heights.

Interestingly though ‘Boogsie’ cannot read a note of music his dexterity as a player has brought him acclaim from his peers for his ability to adept his playing to suit any musical genre or style.

This self-taught virtuoso of the steel pan is also an accomplished pianist composer producer and the founder of the Phase II Pan Groove Steel Orchestra one of the notable pan orchestras in Trinidad and Tobago the cradle and Mecca of the Steel Pan.

Len ‘Boogsie’ Sharpe was the first steel pan player to win the National Panorama finals with his own composition.

Thanks to his prowess as a composer and arranger ‘Boogsie’ has worked with numerous (18) pan orchestras in Trinidad and Tobago as well as pan orchestras in Antigua the U.K. and the U.S.A.

His arrangements and compositions span a variety of musical genres including , Calypso, Classical and Jazz.

His versatility has taken him to bandstands workshops and recording studios with such Jazz greats as: Wynton Marsalis Grover Washinton Jr Art Blakey Randy Weston Gary Burton Ginger Baker Monty Alexander Max Roach and Tony Williams.

In the Caribbean he has also worked with several world-famous Calypso and Soca-Icons to name a few: The Mighty Sparrow, Lord Kitchener, Baron Duke, Black Stalin and Chalkdust.

As a soloist or as part of a group ‘Boogsie’ has amazed audiences in the Caribbean, Canada, Japan, the U.K., Germany, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, the U.S.A., and Australia.

His travels have made him an official ‘Ambassador of the Steel Pan’.

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Artist Profiles: Jason Roseman

Jason Roseman

Born on the beautiful twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Jason Roseman founder of Steelpan Instruments Technology is a second generation steelpan tuner. He credits much of his success to his father Joseph Roseman who introduced and nurtured Jason’s deep love and respect for the steelpan instrument.

Jason started performing on steelpans at age eight and has traveled extensively sharing the indigenous art form of his beloved country with the rest of the world. He also has taught steelpans at secondary schools in his native Trinidad and in England.

As a tuner Jason has built steelpan instruments for individuals and educational institutions in the Caribbean, United States and Europe. Living in the United States since 1997 he continues to promote his steelpan art form every opportunity he gets.

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Artist profiles: Calypso Rose

Calypso Rose -Photo by Richard Holder

Calypso Rose, a living legend in the calypso world, has brought her vibrant and irresistible music from her native Tobago to audiences on every continent, becoming one of the leading and most honored ambassadors of Caribbean music. In a genre traditionally dominated by males, she is the only woman to have captured the Calypso Monarch and Road March titles.

In addition to winning the Calypso Queen contest five years in a row, she has written numerous political and women’s rights songs and the calypso classic Fire In Me Wire. A documentary film, Rose, Calypso Diva, directed by Pascale Obolo was released in 2010.

Rose McCartha Linda Sandy Lewis was born in 1940 in the tiny island of Tobago in Trinidad and Tobago in the West Indies. She started singing at 15. In 1966 she wrote ‘Fire In Me Wire,’ which became an international calypso anthem.

In 1977 she became the first woman to win the crown of Calypso Monarch (a yearly competition that was originally called Calypso King but was renamed Calypso Monarch after her triumph) and the Road March title.

Calypso Rose has performed throughout the world and shared the stage with such popular stars as Miriam Makeba, Tito Puente, Mahalia Jackson, Michael Jackson, Roberta Flack, and Bob Marley.

She has written over 800 songs and recorded more than 20 albums, including the recent Rose, Calypso Diva that is available in the United States of America on the World Village label.

In addition to calypso, her extensive repertoire includes blues, gospel, reggae, ska and soul.

Calypso Rose has received more awards and medals than any other calypsonian from governments in Trinidad, New York, London, Washington, and Africa. She is featured in the films One Hand Don’t Clap and Calypso at Dirty Jim’s.

In 2016, Calypso Rose won the WOMEX (World Music Expo) 2016 Artist Award.

Today she lives in Queens (New York), but every year she returns to her island.

Discography

* Queen of the Calypso World (RA RA 1008, 1968)
* Calypso Queen of the World (Rose SLP 001, 1971)
* Sexy Hot Pants (Rose SLP-002, Strakers SR 7775, 1972)
* Splish Splash (Strakers SR-7776, 1973)
* Action is Tight (Charlies CR-1001, 1977)
* Her Majesty (Charlies CR 444, 1978)
* Mass Fever (CLO CR-666, 1979)
* We Rocking For Carnival (Charlies CR 251, 1980)
* Ah Cant Wait (2000 AD Records 2000 AD LP, 1981)
* Mass In California (Strakers GS 2234, 1982)
* Goes Soca Unlimited (Strakers GS 2242, 1983)
* Trouble (Strakers GS 2252, 1984)
* Calypso Train (Strakers SR 130, 1985)
* Pan In Town (Strakers GS 2261, 1985)
* Stepping Out (Strakers GS2265, 1986)
* The Golden Hits of Calypso Rose (Mahabir Records, 1986)
* Leh We Punta (Strakers GS2271, 1987)
* Soca Explosion (Strakers GS 2299, 1989)
* Soul on Fire (Strakers GS 2319, 1990)
* Jump with Power (Strakers GS 2332, 1991)
* Rosie Doh Hurt Them (Strakers GS2359, 1992)
* Breaking the Sound Barrier (Spice Island Records, 1993)
* Soca Diva (Ice 931202, 1994)
* Tobago (Blue Wave Records 960602, 1996)
* Ringbang Queen (Ice IR9902, 1999)
* Jesus is My Rock (Blue Wave, 2000)
* Calypso at Dirty Jim’s (Maturity Music MM 003, 2003)
* Just Call Jesus (2003)
* The Best of Calypso Rose (Rituals CMG1305, 2005)
* Calypso Hit Parade Vol.1 Spice Island
* Calypso Rose (Harmonia Mundi, 2008)
* Far From Home (2016)

Web site: www.calypso-rose.com

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