Antiguan and Barbudan Cultural Icon – Paul King Obstinate Richards

King Obstinate is one of my favourite calypsonians, so when I came across this archival image from one of his iconic performances, I just had to share. What I remember of Obstinate as a kid is how fun his performances were from the big belly of Doing the Fat Man Dance to the pig tails and diapers of Children Melee and I think there was an elephant suit somewhere in there…this is back in the day when the calypso show was a theatre and I was still a kid losing myself in the illusion. Even then though I knew that Obstinate was also digging at deeper issues; I knew it in the power Believe had to bring tears to my eyes and in the way when he sang “sons of the soil also brought fame, proudly reclaim our true heroes name…” it made sense to us, perfect sense, when he called for a “Short Shirt village and Swallow town”. I remember grown folks cackling with glee as he dropped wud for the higher ups on songs like “Ah coming down to talk to you” at a time when few else (in fact few within and without the calypso arena dared to). Dropped wud for his rivals too. Antiguans will remember “Tiny t’rowing pompee-eye” at Short Shirt’s Wedding. Short Shirt may have been the Monarch (and remains my all time favourite) but Obsti didn’t pull punches. As he himself would later say “he sang the songs” of our lives. Here’re some in my top 10 favourites (or at least the favourites I could find on youtube, alas Believe, probably my all time favourite was nowhere to be found):

Wet Yuh Han’
Opening lines:
“Two woman cussing on Greenbay Hill
Ah go to work, come back, they cussing still …”

Antigua and Barbuda Independence
Opening lines:
“Oh land of peace, haven of rest
Antigua your shores are blessed
With the sweat of those who toiled
In bondage to till the soil”

Children Melee
Opening Lines:
“In a nursery little Tommy telling Sally (me nar lie, me nar lie)
Ah Bet you can’t tell me how me mammy get she baby (me nar lie, me nar lie)”

Ah Coming Down to Talk to You
Opening lines:
“Quite in Washington they bringing me the news
Mr. Bird it got me so confused
They say of all your picknee
You love Ivor the most
Because the others just waiting to take your post”

Shiny Eyes
Opening lines:
“I met this girl in St. Lucia, she had shiny eyes
I never thought I would lose her; she’s as pretty as the morning sky”

I’ll Always come back to you
Opening lines:
“Antigua and Barbuda ah wey me bury me navel string
And at an early age in the cane field ah start to sing”

Who Kill Me Sister
Opening lines:
“King Obstinate is asking who kill me sister Ethlyn
Right George, I’m asking: who kill me sister Ethlyn”

How will Santa Get here
Opening lines:
“Christmas is coming
Every child is hoping”

Get what you can get
Opening lines:
“Years ago when Antigua was young and no whole ton of money was around
Mi grandfather does say, water more than flour and tuppence ha’penny had plenty power”

Resurrection
Opening lines:
“King Obstinate I hear a voice cry
King Obstinate water in yuh eye”

It’s not for nothing that the four time Monarch and Sunshine Hall of Famer is known as the UNDEFEATED King Obstinate.

As with all content on wadadlipen.wordpress.com, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about Wadadli Pen and my books. You can also subscribe to the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks.

15 Comments

Filed under Literary Gallery

15 responses to “Antiguan and Barbudan Cultural Icon – Paul King Obstinate Richards

  1. Lovely piece, a great walk down memory lane!!!

  2. Freeston T'ror Williams

    Well done. I have enjoy those moments.

  3. Thanks, guys. I hope you’ll also check out the posts on other cultural icons like Oscar Mason, Short Shirt and Swallow elsewhere on the site.

  4. That was fun! Thanks for sharing the music. I love exploring music from different cultures and ethnicities. I loved the calypso steel drum music when we visited the Caribbean. Brings back such good memories.

    • Great! Glad you enjoyed it. You have to come during summer next time so that you can get a taste of Antigua’s Carnival when this music and the steelpan is really on show.

  5. Himba

    Great trip down memory lane! Was around when calypso had a message or was for pure joy and entertainment. What’s left now? Keep up the good work .

  6. Anthony Sylvan

    This is the first time I saw this site. Oh men this is great. Speaking from a West Indian point of view; one never knows what heaven is, until the come to live in HELL!

  7. Hello my dear friend ~ Paul Richards / The exceptional King Obstinate,
    This is Claudio “The African Poet” your former co-host on Radio One in St. Thomas, USVI, of THE KING OBSTINATE CALYPSO SHOW. I am still on radio and would love to hear from you ~ http://www.ClaudioArts.com ~ Claudio.

    • Hi Claudio, thanks for stopping by. King Obstinate is not affiliated with the site; we were merely paying due tribute to him. If opportunity presents, however, we will pass on your message. Bless.

  8. Rutherford James

    Very interesting to review this superb calypsonian. Born in Antigua. And always came in contact with obstinate .he is very numerous . So recently I’ve choose to re visit Calypsonians from the Caribbean. Such as Sparrow, swallow Arrow who is passed on.
    Is king obstinate still alive? I was ware of some physical ailment

    • Yes, he is still alive and kicking…well, he did suffer a stroke a few years ago but he still performs – last Carnival for instance and though he performed from the golf cart he uses to get around, the spirit was definitely still there. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, by the way.

  9. Patrice Lumumba

    Right now a top calypsonian,Short Pants who hosts a radio show on Sundays on 91.1 Fm in Trinidad and Tobago said King Obstinate was a Grenadian and he did not know much of what King Obstinate is doing now. could King Obstinate call the programme Kaiso Cafe before 5pm at 868-622 4911 and talk to T & T?

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