Arts in the News (Unfortunately)

Usually we’re happy here at Wadadli Pen about arts and the youth being in the news and try to keep you updated. Sometimes, not so much.

First up is this back and forth between Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister and a member of the calypso fraternity in response to criticism (or questioning?) of cultural ambassador designation being given to the British-based Kanneh-Masons (Antigua-descended family of classical musicians). The Kanneh-Masons are dope. Their Playing to Inspire series of concerts to raise funds for the national youth symphony orchestra (I believe) is a worthy pursuit and one of them has distinguished himself internationally as a soloist, notably performing at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. No shade against them AT ALL. That said, these appointments can seem arbitrary and questioning how these things are decided is fair (and forwards transparency).  It’s inevitable for some to wonder why some people get to be at the front of the line, (AGAIN) without any shade on them, and why some we would consider worthy artists who work and sometimes die overlooked despite accomplishments locally, regionally, and globally stay at the back. Disappointing then that, instead of engaging on that level, the conversation (as reported) seemingly descended into broadsides against Antigua and Barbuda’s calypso artistes because their lyrics are perceived as being too local (you can read the articles for yourself above – click on them to get a full sized view). I have personally found in the calypso I grew up listening to, including the music of the artistes both sides seem to agree represent the best of us, that the local/the specific can connect to the universal thematically and emotionally (especially if the music sweet – not necessarily always jumpy but melodic and soul touching in some way) without diluting itself and thus losing both its poetry and its potency. There are lots of reasons why something might be underdeveloped (and some of our arts is) and reasons why it might not travel that do not necessarily have anything to do with the lyrics or narrative – among those reasons, opportunity.


This one is not unfortunate per se, correcting the record – as Pledge writer Stanley Humphreys and singer Short Shirt did with these letters to the editor in response to an article (not the first one I might add from personal experience) crediting someone else with writing this particular song (I can think of a book with a similar claim and another book that actually went a long way in correcting the record on a whole lot of songs) – is always a good thing. The credit is correct in our song lyrics data base by the way though the past confusion is addressed in the actual Pledge link (above). I do wish to take this opportunity to underscore that one of the challenges for those seeking to get the record right is the sparseness of documented information – one of the ways to fix this is through comprehensive liner notes, the kind often lacking from local music CDs. Some liner notes include not only production credits but song lyrics. As someone who has long covered the local art scene and who has for several years on this site worked to build a data base of our songwriters and their songs for some time, it’s easy to get things wrong due to lack of available, accurate information (oftentimes, even when you ask).


Okay, this one isn’t related to the arts but it is related to the youth which is the Wadadli Youth Pen Prize constituency. I don’t want to get too deep into this one – it’s too easy for the message to be missed for reasons that have nothing to do with the message itself – but I am disappointed not only with the delay in turning this facility over to the youth of the Grays Green (and I would add Ottos community and beyond) but that the optics for me say, the youth can wait, which is not a good look. The work of the Magistrate’s Court is important but I wish we had gone with an alternate site on this one, and proceeded with opening this facility post haste with all the fan fair our youth deserve. I can’t help feeling that whenever they get it now, it won’t be the same.

Let’s end on an upbeat note. I haven’t seen this in the paper – doesn’t mean it wasn’t there as admittedly I am a few days behind on the papers – or on my social media (apart from posts by individual winners) but it is one of my favourite events (celebrating our youth); I always take the time to make nominations (not just in lit arts) and I like to share the outcome here on the blog (click here to see who won what this year). Shout out to lit awards winner and Wadadli Pen 2018 Challenge winner Kyle Christian and to Latisha Browne of the Cushion Club (pictured below with her award).


As with all content on, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Oh Gad!, Musical Youth, With Grace, and Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure). 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.

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Filed under A & B Lit News Plus, Links We Love, Literary Gallery, The Business, Wadadli Pen News

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