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Seduced by calypso
“Ah was planning to forget calypso/And go and plant peas in Tobago.” Specially invited guests heard those familiar lyrics from veteran calypsonian Winston Bailey’s (Shadow) Bassman. For C2k12, they were in for another treat—the launch of Doctor Say—at Flamingo Room, Hilton Trinidad, St Ann’s, on Friday night. Clad in his trademark black attire, dread-locked Bailey belted out the lyrics like “What to do/What to do/Dance it out/dance/prance it out.”
It was well received by the appreciative audience which included managing director Trinicrossroads/ace photographer Andrea De Silva and facilitator Gwendollene Roberts. They were joined by a battery of media personnel and a phalanx of photographers. Hilton Trinidad general manager Ali Khan congratulated Bailey. The entrance to the upscale room was decorated with huge portraits of Bailey. It was a far cry from when Bailey “walked down the street on a Friday evening to give them (Rhyners) some CDs”. Reverting to his unconventional launch, Bailey said: “The people coming to hear what I have and the people dancing in the street.”
It had a thing they called “niggergram”. People just talk to people and just talk to people. Shadow have “something.” Word would spread like wildfire. The “something” could be the infectious Dingolay—“where everybody could party”. It could even be the classic on harsh socio/economic realities Poverty Is Hell.
Waiting for s-o-u-n-d
After the formalities, Bailey spoke about his renaissance into the calypso art form. His son Sharlan Bailey encouraged him. The senior Bailey said: “He keep telling me I have some lyrics in me and I should be in the studio. I could not feel it. After a time I can’t feel it, if I don’t have it. I don’t want to give it to you. I had to get the s-o-u-n-d. Not music. Always had music. I am here again. I have a lot of things to do.”
Asked whether he would be going into competition, Bailey said: “I would like to go in all because I could still do it. Because soon I would not be here to go in it again. I could still mash up the place as they say. I have the songs and the energy and I could do it.” He joked he was more interested in Power than Groovy. “I am a power man,” said Bailey. It was a direct reference to the Soca Monarch competition of which Guardian Media Ltd is the official media sponsor. In 2001, he was declared the new International Soca Monarch with his Road March contender Stranger. In 2000, he won the National Calypso Monarch with What’s Wrong With Me and Scratch Meh Back.
“Everybody should get airplay’
Zeroing on serious issues like the lack of airplay for all artistes who have laboured in the vineyard, he lamented the industry had been plagued by the problem for a long period of time. Bailey said: “They should be making it possible for everybody to get airplay. Even by having certain radio stations play the music. Instead of forcing somebody to play the music they don’t want to play…to accommodate everybody. They have to make it possible for people to hear music. Not only one, but everybody. And more than once.”
Asked about the inspiration from the rural village of Les Couteaux, Tobago, Bailey said: “I used to have a lot of things to do like looking after animals. Go and bathe in the river early morning. I used to sing around the animals in the pastures. I was around the choirs. I used to want to sing my own thing.” He admitted he was seduced “the first time I heard calypso” . “I knew I had to sing calypso.” But he shied away from naming any mentors. “I heard calypso from different people. I heard Spoiler. It is not some special person. That is what I developed from.” Commenting on the crime and violence which is marring the T&T landscape, Bailey burst into song: “I would like to see the day when love would come to stay. It would be just a unity…one love.”
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