Call for calypso college

Music producer Eddy Grant believes there should be a calypso college in Barbados.

“I have begged the Government to teach calypso in schools. If you can teach British history, why can’t you know your own? Why can’t you learn how to sing your own?

“You have got the best calypso writer, singer, performer that there has been in the Caribbean since Sparrow in Gabby, and he [Sparrow] said it. He acknowledged that Gabby is second to him,” said the owner of Bayley’s Plantation, where General Bussa staged the slave rebellion in 1816.

He emphasised that a master should have a college where he trains the next generation, who will train the next generation.

“One thing you cannot say about Gabby is that he cannot sing calypso. Oh dear, no! He has an innate understanding of the art form.”

Grant said that there is that talent in Barbados. And, it must be recognised.

“If you have a college for everything else, why not have a college for the art form? It is required; it’s an important part of the history of this country and the region as a whole,” he said.

Grant said the introduction of ring bang in 1993 brought about a musical revolution in Barbados.

The musical icon predicted that Barbados would become the mecca of calypso, soca and ring bang, but said that some had doubted him.

Grant, who started his musical career in England with his band The Equals and had his first hit song while still at school, said he conceptualised soca, adding that all genres should not be lumped together and called calypso or ring bang because they are different forms of music.

He, however, said that Trinidadians did exactly that.

“Everybody and anybody could hear that ring bang was different. And Barbados was turned inside out with it,” he said.

Grant said all of the beats in the world are out there, but if you take something out or add something it changes the entire flavour of the music.

“And it is this lack of consciousness of branding and what it does for us that bothers me. The root is calypso and there are many adjacent roots, but for branding purposes we must make the distinction. And, by extension, teach our kids, otherwise they would not know.”

Grant referred to Jamaican sprint ace Usain Bolt, saying he brought forward hundreds of great sprinters.

“Now that he is gone there is a withering. Sir Garry is the god of cricket, Wesley Hall would tell you that. He is the Bill Gates or the Steve Jobs of cricket,” he said.

But Grant said that in the Caribbean we need to have a front man, but in the Caribbean “we don’t like to have the man who is the man”.

He said that when that man is allowed to pass, that capacity goes somewhere else.


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