Spotlight: Dorbrene O’Marde

Big up to Antigua’s own Dorbrene O’Marde, for his Sunshine Award nominatin alongside Famoro Gioubate of Guinea, Dancin Africa of Barbados, Yves Joseph of Haiti’s Tabou Combo, Sonny Blacks of England, Drupatee Persad of Trinidad and Tobago, Ramiro Crawford of Costa Rica; and new Hall of Famers Dave Martins of the Tradewinds of Guyana, and Bill Trotman, Norma Darway Adams, and Alfred ‘Sacks’ Mayers of Trinidad and Tobago. The 22nd annual Sunshine awards will be conferred in New York on October 23rd.

Here’s what the Sunshine Awards Press Release announcing Dorbrene O’Marde’s 2010 nomination said about the Antiguan writer:

“Dorbrene O’Marde is best known as playwright           , Director, producer, songwriter and lobbyist for the Performing Arts for over twenty-five years.  He has written and produced five full length plays and directed over a dozen African, African-American and Caribbean plays in Antigua and Barbuda.  His work in the sphere of calypso music includes songwriting, producing and editing the very popular calypso magazine “Calypso Talk”, hosting of the radio program series “Calypso Talk” and judging the national calypso competitions of Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Barbados, Montserrat and St. Kitts and Nevis.  Mr. O’Marde has also served as President of the Antigua Jazz Society and represented the CARICOM Heads of Government on two CARIFESTA organizing committees.  He was also a major contributor to the development of the Caribbean region’s cultural policy.   This year he will receive the 2010 “Friend of the Arts” SUNSHINE Award.”

I (your blogger, JCH) had the opportunity to participate in 2010 in a tribute night right here at home, reading one of Dorbrene’s short stories.

Me, at the event in tribute to Dorbrene O'Marde.

It had been so long ago and he’d written so much that he actually didn’t remember the story. It was a joy to re-introduce him to it. In fact, the entire night, with performances by various artistes he’s worked with,

Antiguan Calypso Queen, Singing Althea, pays tribute in song to the architect of several of her hits, Dorbrene O'Marde.

was a delight and a loving 60th birthday present from his wife, Ingrid.

I noted on that night that I’ve also had the opportunity to experience O’Marde as director, given his involvement in the first Vagina Monologues staging; I was a cast member, he came in in the last week or so of rehearsals to whip us into shape.

Here's Dorbrene (on stage, second from left) with the 2008 Antigua cast of Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues (Photo by

I have lived  my entire life with an awareness of and appreciation for what this Antiguan scribe has contributed to the Antiguan and Barbudan literary scene as calypso writer and playwright. A few years ago when we were both on an Antiguan authors panel at the Antigua and Barbuda International Literary Festival, he read from what he indicated then was a book in progress. I enjoyed that reading. And I realized, too, that this is what was long overdue – him putting it in book form; perhaps a collection of his plays, perhaps that book he read from at the event, perhaps that novel in progress he hinted at. Perhaps all of it. Like this Sunshine Award, it’s long overdue.

During a 2010 interview, shortly after the birthday tribute, I pressed him on this issue; see his response to this and other issues about his career in the article found here.

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