King Obstinate was interviewed in the Daily Observer (published in the November 7th 2013 issue) after receiving his Knighthood from the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. I thought it was an interesting piece, mostly because of some of what Obsti, the last of Antigua and Barbuda’s Big Three calypsonians to be knighted, had to say.
“We are the voice of the local man. We are the people who tell the stories and the ills of the country, what it should be and what it shouldn’t be. We pull up the politicians and let them know what’s happening.”
I know this used to be true. I have only to think back to a childhood of classic tracks (just before Burning Flames burst onto the scene and the definition of local popular music changed) that rooted their way into your consciousness. I found myself wondering somewhat rhetorically if it was still so. And Obsti went on to acknowledge in the interview that not only had calypso’s popularity waned considerably, the architects of the art form, perhaps in part due to the lack of vision of the keepers of our culture, had faded into obscurity.
“I remember when I went to Dominica for the first time…they put me in the schools to talk about calypso and teach calypso and promote calypso. The Virgin Islands did the same thing.” Sir Paul said in Antigua, things are not put in place for the continuation of neither in the arts or sports. “We need to put more into the kids. They don’t even know their history,” he said. “One time I went to school and the teacher asked ‘Boys and Girls, do you know this gentleman?’ But they don’t know me.”
That said, he remained optimistic which perhaps shouldn’t be too surprising, as he proved with his own career Resurrection at the start of the 80s, he knows well that in time what’s old can become new again.
“All them young people jumping up. Time will go on and they will get old and stop jumping and start listening,” he said. “Calypso is the mother and the music and drum beat is the father. They will come back to it. I am not worried about it.”