(T&TGuardian)Denyse Plummer, a former pop singer who switched to calypso and later gospel in a musical career that spanned more than five decades, died Sunday at age 69.
Her death was confirmed to Guardian Media by a close family member.
She had been ailing for several months after being diagnosed with cancer.
Plummer is best known for the hostile reception she received from a jeering, toilet-paper-wielding Skinner Park crowd when she made her calypso debut there in 1986.
Although she was pelted mercilessly throughout the performance, Plummer valiantly stood her ground and went on to achieve many successes in the calypso arena.
Her musical journey began as a child when she won Best Vocalist in the Junior and Senior categories at T&T Music Festivals. She was also active in the junior, senior and folk choirs at her alma mater, Holy Name Convent.
Plummer also took part in popular television talent competitions, “12 and Under,” “Teen Talent,” and “Scouting for Talent.”
However, it was as a pop singer at local bars and hotels that she first gained popularity, which eventually led to her landing a regular gig at the Chaconia Inn in Maraval.
Her repertoire included pop, reggae, and country and western songs.
In 1978, Plummer released her first pop album, “Natural.”
She switched to calypso in 1986 when legendary Phase II Pan Groove steelband arranger Len “Boogsie” Sharpe enlisted her to sing the band’s Panorama song, Pan Rising.
She faced hostility from audiences, many of whom questioned the ability of a fair-skinned mixed-race female pop artiste to sing calypso. She soon erased all doubts about her talent.
Plummer overcame that rough start in calypso and steadily gained popularity, collaborating with Boogsie again in 1987 on Pan Progress and This Feeling Nice.
However, her breakthrough year was in 1988, with yet another Len “Boogsie” Sharpe composition, Woman Is Boss, which propelled her into the National Calypso Monarch finals and her first Calypso Queen crown.
By that time, she was one of the stars at the Calypso Revue, the tent founded by the late Lord Kitchener.
Plummer won the Calypso Queen title a total of six times and placed second in that competition three times.
Her most successful year in calypso was 2001 when she won the National Calypso Monarch title with Heroes and Nah Leaving.
She was among the five female calypsonians to win the Young Kings and National Calypso Queens titles.
For her contributions to culture, Plummer was awarded the Humming Bird Medal (Gold) in 2011.
She made another career-changing move in 2015, becoming a born-again Christian and joining World Outreach Ministries Church in Petit Valley, pastored by Carl Mead.
She had been invited to attend services there by her hairdresser.
Later that year, Plummer released her autobiography, The Crossover.
Until ill health forced her to stop performing, Plummer had been active on the gospel circuit. Her releases in that genre include Highest Praise and Safe on The Inside, a collaboration with Michelle Sylvester, Christopher “Tambu” Herbert and Luta (Morel Peters). In 2019, she remixed her 2001 calypso hit Nah Leaving into a praise and worship number. Cyah Leave Him, reaffirming her commitment to the Gospel.
Plummer is survived by her husband, Patrick Boocock, and their two sons.