Tag Archives: Swallow

Dawn of a New Day by Rupert ‘Swallow’ Philo

Sung by Rupert ‘Swallow’ Philo
Written by Rupert ‘Swallow’ Philo

See also our song lyrics data base; and our song writers’ data base. All lyrics are transcribed from the song recording. Errors and omissions are my own; feel free to help me correct or fill in the blanks. – JCH, blogger

An uprising nation could never be a nation
When undoubtedly, it’s heading in the wrong direction
We need cooperation just to solve the problems
Or otherwise, things will remain the same
If we let frustration and hopelessness prevail
By all means, the nation is going to fail
With a little practical ???
??????? action
We will overcome our whole division
We need a sense of purpose
A sense of community
And a welcome hope of sincerity
that blocks the flow of progress
I’m positively sure we must gain success
cause tug-o-war wouldn’t take us to our goal
is cooperation I’m sure
to bring the problems under control

Only when we start to see eye to eye
We will move to higher heights by and by
Only when we stop all the back biting
We will have a true country progressing
When we work together
through the stormy weather
When we file our motion
Into one direction
We will definitely be
Open up our eyes to see
That dawn, beautiful dawn
of a new day

Hatred and suspicion
Vice, poverty, and crime
Would only put this place in plenty turmoil
A little time and patience
good public relations
bound to uplift the character of this nation
If we to determine nation’s future
We must fight to get conditions better
Success must come either by force of by will
???? plenty room for improving still
We can’t let this country’s plans lay in ruin
Because all of us will end up suffering
It’s a long, long way ???
But we should all be willing and able
You can’t let this country wake by day
and sleep by night without goal
??? third world


Some people real heartless
Heartless in every way
They do nothing else
But paint this country black every day
Their efforts are fruitless
??? production
They do not believe in
righting the country’s wrongs
The past wouldn’t make the future impossible
If we would decide to fight that struggle
Although mother nature turns against us sometimes
this country nevertheless should be all sublime
We need that love that comes from deep within
If we should see this place improving
???? country will rise or fall
Or else is a good chance for survival
Self-respect and pride along the way
is ??? I say
to see the dawn of a rising day


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Carib Lit Plus Mid to Late October 2020

A reminder that the process with these Carib Lit Plus Caribbean arts bulletins is to do a front and back half of the month, updating as time allows as new information comes in; so, come back. (in brackets, as much as I can remember, I’ll add a note re how I sourced the information)


I haven’t been keeping up with the A & B Arts Round Up (schedule of events) because well, COVID cancelled everything. Which is not really true because there have been a number of online events as well but I just haven’t been keeping up with them as I’d like to. So I’ll mention here that the National Public Library of Antigua and Barbuda resumed its Author of the Month Series in October 2020 with its first virtual edition of the series spotlighting local authors. Leadership consultant Janine Sutherland, author of This Woman Can, was in the spotlight as you’ll see in this live archived on the Public Library page. Next up, November 25th 2020 is Floree Williams Whyte, author of The Wonderful World of Yohan.


Rupert Philo, son of Willikies, king of the Road, calypso icon, Caribbean legend, one of the Big Three of Antiguan and Barbudan calypso was laid to rest on October 19th 2020 at the Sir Vivian Richards (National) Stadium. Swallow, Sir Rupert, received a deserving official funeral. You can read about him in various articles here on the blog – use the search feature to find them. Rest in Power and dance to your heart’s content, Swallow. I feel inclined as he ascends to angel status to share (again) a favourite of mine and many others, because I appreciate the irony of it, Satan Coming Down (winner of the 1984 Road March title). Enjoy.

(source: this was prompted by the live stream of Swallow’s funeral on ABS TV; any additional information was researched or drawn from memory)


Randall Kenan was not a Caribbean writer (he’s from the American South) but he is a writer with whom my path crossed at the Breadloaf Writers Conference in 2008, and he was always gracious to me during our brief encounters in my time there. I was sad to hear of this passing. You can read his New York Times obit here. Of the books mentioned, I’ve read Walking on Water: Black American Lives at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century which distinctively, through capturing and profiling individual Black lives coast to coast, illustrates that oft repeated phrase that Black people are not a monolith. You can read my review of it here or you could just go read the book.

(source: various, including social media reflection by author-friends and note to my inbox from Breadloaf/Middlebury; plus additional research and personal reflection)

New Publications

Intersect Antigua has announced that intersectantigua.com, platforming queeribbean and Caribbean feminist stories, will launch on October 30th 2020.

(source: social media announcement by Intersect)


Published specially for the 2020 NGC Bocas Lit Fest, Reclaim, Restore, Return: Futurist Tales from the Caribbean is an e-book anthology of speculative fiction and poetry by seven Caribbean writers (including Brandon O’Brien and Hadassah K. Williams, Trinidadian writers whose included works were previously published in New Worlds, Old Ways: Speculative Tales from the Caribbean; US Virgin Islander Cadwell Turnbull; Nalo Hopkinson, a Caribbean writer well known in the world of speculative fiction internationally; and a new commissioned piece from Trinbagonian Shivanee Ramlochan). The book, available freely for download here, was compiled and edited by renowned Caribbean fantasy writers Karen Lord of Barbados and Grenadian Tobias S. Buckell (who coined the fitting term for the genre #Caribbeanfuturism). Both also have pieces in the collection. Reclaim, Restore, Return is published by the Caribbean Futures Institute, which was specifically established to partner with the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, to imagine a post-pandemic Caribbean future. Together, they’ve created a book project, and we want to imagine entertaining read, to imagine possible futures for the Caribbean that should inspire us in the present.

(source: email announcement from Bocas; plus additional research)


Jamaica-born, Barbados based Sharma Taylor keeps winning – her latest prize the 2020 Queen Mary Wasafiri New Writing Prize in Fiction for ‘How You Make Jamaican Coconut Oil.’ (source social media congrats)

Trinidad and Tobago’s Danielle Boodoo-Fortune (Love Notes from Island Lockdown), Sonia Farmer of the Bahamas (Don’t Look), Trinidad’s Nehassaiu deGannes (To Find, To Be), and Jamaica’s Safiya Sinclair who is based in the US (Double America) were shortlisted for the Montreal Poetry Prize of 2020 which ultimately went to American poet Victoria Korth (Harlem Valley Psychiatric Center).

In the sealed container of home now,
Saharan dust clouds drift and settle.
You find airspaces in the secret hollows of trees,
mark time in the nesting cycles of cornbirds
and the fruiting season of mangoes.

Danellie Boodoo-Fortune: Love Notes from an Island Lockdown

(source: email announcement from St. Lucian author John Robert Lee; plus additional research)


“Alexandra Stewart has become the first National (Trinidad and Tobago) Poetry Slam Champion to successfully defend her title. Stewart, 22, is also the fifth time a woman to win the competition in its eighth year.”

(Read more)

(source: email announcement from Bocas)

As with all content on Wadadli Pen, except otherwise noted, this is written by Joanne C. Hillhouse (author of The Boy from Willow Bend, Dancing Nude in the Moonlight, Musical Youth, With Grace, Lost! A Caribbean Sea Adventure/Perdida! Una Aventura en el Mar Caribe, and Oh Gad!). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on 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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Over the Boundary: the High Flying Swallow, King of the Road

This is a throwback to an article I did for the Calypso Association 50th anniversary magazine in 2007. In the interest of increasing awareness of the accomplishments of some of Antigua and Barbuda’s iconic calypsonians and increasing appreciation for the art form, I figured I would share some of that issue with you. This particular article looked at a quartet of repeat-repeat-repeat winners. in this post, I’ll share the section of that article focused on Swallow (as it ran, so some of the info will be dated). The first excerpt from this article focused on Queen Ivena and the second excerpt was King Onyan’s. DO NOT repost without permission or credit.

Listing his ‘Subway Jam’ (1981), among “5 More Small Island Classics” insultingly lumped together – with Short Shirt’s ‘Tourist Leggo’ and Burning Flames’ ‘Workey Workey’ – for a passing mention in its 2004 countdown of the region’s 250 best songs, Caribbean Beat magazine wrote: “(Swallow is) best known for his infectious melodies and catchy hooks.” This combination, married to a flashy onstage persona, energy-cyarn-done, and a mellifluous voice have yielded party classics like Road March titleholders ‘Pow Pow’ (1972), ‘Push Ya Push Dey’ (1973), ‘Shake and Break You Bam Bam’ (1975), ‘Party in Space’ (1983), and ‘Satan’ (1984). Not to mention the likes of crowd pleasers ‘Rude Bwoy Jam’ and ‘Fire in de Back Seat’.

Nineteen seventy-three was a particularly stellar year for Rupert Philo, with Monarch, Road March, and Caribbean King victories.

With collaborations like ‘Higher’ with Dread and the Baldhead and the remake of ‘Don’ Stop Dis Party’ with King Edimelo, Swallow hasn’t missed a dance step since his competition days.

He’s worn the Monarch crown four times – 1973, 1977, 1978, and 1985 – a figure that perhaps fails to capture the excitement of the intense rivalry between he and Short Shirt, and later Obstinate between the 1970s and early 1980s. But tunes like  his ‘The King Can Go’ bear witness:

“Since ah put the beating on yuh Shorty boy yuh shrink
Yuh pants can’t fit you
And now yuh eyeballs sink
Soon from now Dr. Weisenger or Straffie
Go get yuh case
So, man, Shorty, keep yuhself in yuh place.”

Of course, the rivalry only made the victories sweeter, as he told the Antigua Sun in 1998. “Whenever I win is a joy, because is a battle well fought,” he said. “I used to like the rivalry. As I always say, Short Shirt is one of the persons responsible for my elevation in Calypso.”

That elevation is not only local, as Swallow not only has Sunshine Awards wins and various other international accolades to his credit, he’s also made history as the first Calypsonian to sing at New York’s famed Apollo and at Radio City Music Hall. A stellar year, among his various years as a nominee at New York-based Sunshine Awards, meanwhile, is 1989. That year, he was adjudged winner in three of four nominated categories – including best Calypso of the year.

Though Swallow always knows how to get the party started, undeniable is the impact of more sober tunes like his 1973 winner ‘March for Freedom’ about the Liberation Day Parade and ‘Man to Man’, which he once described as his best crafted Calypso.  “Just saying it, I get goosebumps,” he was quoted as saying in the Sun in 1998. “I feel into ‘Man to Man’ so much because it was facts.”

“If we see we brother falling in de gutter
We find the meanest way to push him further
Instead of lend a hand help we brother man
We left him dey to die in suffocation…”

This, and songs like ‘Dawn of a New Day’ and ‘Children of a Universe’ have helped cement him in the national psyche; and elevated the high flying Swallow among the greats of the art form. The most recent recognition of this came in 2007 when he was honoured by the National Action Cultural Committee of Trinidad for his contribution to the development of the art form. He’s earned the right to affirm, as he did in the article announcing this latest accolade, that “I’m the baddest thing since the wheel when it comes to Calypso and don’t talk about soca”.  He’s after all a charter member among The Big Three of Antiguan Calypso.

FYI, here’s a short cut to some other calypso related links on the site: this is a report from the launch of the book on the Monarch King Short Shirt by veteran calypso writer – Dorbrene O’Marde; an article on that book being short listed for the regional Bocas prize and why it matters; an article on Antigua’s King of the Road – Swallow; an article on Marcus Christopher – the late great calypso writer and key figure in the development of the art form and of Carnival locally; a piece on pre calypso pioneer Quarko; an article on Short Shirt’s documentarian and the birth of his film; a piece on Short Shirt’s 50th; the site’s evolving songwriters’ data base – dominated by, you guessed it, calypso writers; an article on King Obstinate; a reflection on Latumba; a review of Dorbrene’s book by D. Gisele Isaac; a video retrospective – King Obstinate; an article on bandleader and key figure in the development of the art form – Oscar Mason; Lesroy Merchant was, among other things, a calypso writer – we remembered him here on the site when he passed; Short Shirt article; my review of his classic Ghetto Vibes album

As with all content (words, images, other) 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,  Fish Outta Water, Oh Gad!, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. If you enjoyed it, check out my page on Amazon, WordPress, and/or Facebook, and help spread the word about WadadliPen and my books. You can also subscribe to and/or follow the site to keep up with future updates. Thanks. And remember while linking and sharing the links, referencing and excerpting, with credit, are okay, lifting whole content (articles,  images, other) from the site without asking is not cool. And using any creative work without crediting the creator will open you up to legal action. Respect copyright.

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Antiguan and Barbudan song writers

The cover of the Calypso Association 50th anniversary magazine on which I had the privilege of working as editor.

As with the playwrights and screenwriters, the listing of Calypso song writers may will take a good long while, building sloooowly over time as I gather information and as I find time to upload the information I already have. Part of the challenge is that while we know the names of the artistes, the writers often exist somewhere in the wings, out of the spotlight (sometimes deliberately so). Often, even today, there are no liner notes (a pet peeve of mine since well-written liner notes enhance the listening experience for me). So, more than any of my lists, this one promises to be a challenge. In a number of cases, I’m not 100% sure about the songwriting credits (so if anyone knows, for sure – i.e. with proof, please email wadadlipen@yahoo.com). I think Antigua and Barbuda has produced some classic calypsos (and noteworthy songs in other genres) and they dripped from somebody’s pen; and those guys and gals deserve a bit of the spotlight, wouldn’t you say?

Davidson ‘Bankers’ Benjamin – Bankers’ popular tracks include ‘Me D Ras’ and ‘Fire go bun Dem’ which won him the Antigua Calypso Monarch crown in 1996. He’s also popular for the songs he did with Dread and the Baldhead (‘Motorbike’, ‘Do You wanna rock some more’ etc.) in the 1990s and for songs like ‘Pulling Me’ on the Sweetest Mango [film] soundtrack.

Boasta (Tario Philip)Old Time Something (2015).

Muerah ‘Mighty Artist’ Bodie His calypsos are known for their double entendre (read: alternate lewd interpretation), earning the most humorous prize in competition a time or two. His songs include ‘Vitamins and Iron’, ‘Tarpan Tone Up’, ‘Woman Working Under Man’, ‘Me Ole Wife’, ‘Pot Hole’, ‘Business Dead’, ‘Clap You Tongue’, and others. He’s been singing since 1972.

Marcus Christopher– over 300 calypsos written: incuding several which won the Calypso Monarch competition like Short Shirt’s ‘Carnival on the Moon’ (1969), ‘Beatles MBE’ (1965), ‘No Place Like Home’ (1964) and ‘Heritage’ (1964), ‘Technical School’ (1971), ‘Black Like Me’ (1971); Zemakai’s ‘Tribute to Radio Antigua’ and ‘Fidel Castro’ (1961); King Canary’s ‘Gem of the Caribbean’ and ‘Slapping Hands’ (1960) and ‘Island People Names’ and ‘Immigration Bill’ (1962). Also many that while not winners are memorable, such as Short Shirt’s ‘Parasites’ (1963) and ‘Anguilla Crisis’ (1969) and Sleepy’s ‘Under the Carpet’. Christopher died in 2015.

Toriano ‘Onyan’ Edwards – One fourth of the original groundbreaking Antiguan jam/soca band Burning Flames and later a solo act and four time calypso monarch (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000); Onyan has attracted controversy for lyrics deemed offensive by some (I for instance wrote an article critical of 2012’s ‘Kick een she back doh‘- loved by fans who assured it the road march win, and decried by women’s groups) and not for the first time; anyone remember such classics as ‘Man fu Whorehouse’ and ‘Baby Food’ off the Baby Food album? But with songs like ‘Crazy Man’, ‘Old Fire Stick’, ‘Life in the Ghetto’, ‘Nice and Slow’ and even the named controversial songs he remains  a crowd favourite and road march winner.

Mclean ‘Short Shirt’ Emmanuel – The Calypso Hall of Famer is celebrated as The Monarch (subject of the documentary film The Making of the Monarch  and of the book Nobody Go Run Me – long-listed for the 2015 Bocas prize) as the 15 time Calypso Monarch (’64, ’65, ’66, ’69, ’70, ’72, ’74, ’75, ’76, ’79, ’80, ’86, ’87, ’88, ’92) of Antigua and Barbuda; in addition to being a multiple title holder in both the Road March and Caribbean Calypso King categories. Check out this article on his 1976 album, Feeling the Ghetto Vibes. Also scroll down for the Shelly Tobitt entry.

Fd – The official pseudonym of a songwriter who provided evidence of his contribution to Antiguan calypso (as I hope other songwriters will do so that I can continue to build this data base). Those contributions include social commentaries  –  ‘True Antiguan’ (2011), ‘Forward Together’, ‘Share The Honey’ (1992), ‘Heaven Help Mankind’ (1993), ‘How Could I Sit Back’ , ‘Tell The Truth’; and party tunes – ‘Push Back You Bam Bam/Jennifer’ (1987), ‘Taste The Honey/Taste It’ (2011), ‘After Midnight’ (1983), ‘Get It Up’, ‘Champion’ (1987) & ‘Angela’ (1987) – all performed by King Short Shirt. Other Fd songs: ‘The Party’, ‘Give me a Beer’, ‘Rolling Back’, ‘That’s How I Like It’, ‘Wire Waist’, ‘Stay out of Politics’, ’25 Years’, ‘Good Advice’, ‘Love Me Up’, ‘Shake de Booty’, ‘Push Wood’, ‘Selfish Man’ (1983), and ‘Rub Your Body (1983)’.

Stanley Humphreys – a frequent Short Shirt collaborator beginning with 1980s Summer Festival album, continuing wtih 1981’s Dance with Me Album including songs like ‘Nationalism’ and ‘We have got to Change’, and ongoing; also in 1981 ‘Pledge’ (as confirmed by the artiste himself).

Joseph ‘Calypso Joe’ Hunte – His classic ‘Bum Bum” became, in 1970, the first homegrown winner of the Antigua and Barbuda calypso road march title. Other well known tracks composed and (I believe) written by Joe include: 1971’s ‘Educate the Youths’ and ‘Recorded in History’ with which he won the Calypso Monarch crown;   ‘War’, ‘A Nation to Build, A Country to Mould’, and 1972’s ‘Life of a Negro Boy’.

Tameka Jarvis-George is a novelist and poet who continues to cross boundaries by mixing genres such as when she converted her poem Dinner into a short film of the same name. Her lyrics for Naki’s ‘Talking in Tongues’ on the Tin Pan Riddim is another example.

Oglivier ‘Destroyer’ Jacobs  has written for both himself and his son Leston ‘Young Destroyer’ Jacobs. Destroyer Sr. has never won the crown, though he came close in 1971 and 1989 winning the first runner-up spot. His written songs include 1967’s ‘Bring Back the Cat-o-Nine’, 1989’s ‘Discrimination’ and ‘Message from Gorkie’, ‘Back of de Bus’ (sung by his son and winner of best social commentary in 2006),

Accepting a National Vibes Star Project Award

‘Woodpecker Sarah’, ‘Jail Cart’, ‘Country Running Good’, ‘All Fool’s Day’, ‘Beg Georgie Pardon’, ‘Ah Wha Me Do You’, ‘Can’t Smile ‘Bout That’, ‘Ah Wonder Who Do Dis’, and many others.

King Zacari

Trevor ‘King Zacari’ King  (pictured above, performing)- The 1991 and 2001 monarch began writing for juniors in the early 1990s (e.g. ‘The Zulu Will Rise Again’ performed by Pepperseed) before entering the arena with his own tracks among which can be counted ‘Black Rights’, ‘Guilty of Being Black’, ‘Fine Ants’ (2001), ‘Guilty as Charged’ etc.

Logiq (Vincent Pryce) – A rapper whose discography includes tracks like ‘Sometimes‘, ‘Intimidation‘, and ‘All 4 Love‘.

Menace (Dennis Roberts) – ‘Old Time Something‘ and ‘ Sand to the Beach ‘ (2015).

Kobla ‘Promise No Promises’ Mentor – This Guyana born singer-songwriter broke through in Antigua with his behind the scenes contributions (as co-writer) on the 2003 Wanski hit (‘More Gyal‘) before claiming the so/calypso spotlight the following year with hits like ‘Can’t Stop My Carnival’ and ‘Pon de Move’; 2010’s ‘Do Good‘, 2011’s ‘Her Drums‘, and 2014’s ‘Draw we out‘are among his more recent offerings.

Lesroy Merchant – His songwriting is referenced in this obituary/tribute but details of the specific songs remain elusive. RIP. ETA: “Lesie wrote mainly for Franco, as a matter of fact, it was Lesie who introduced me to Franco and tried to get me to write songs for him. I was very busy at that time hence Lesie wrote the songs for Franco and many times he would have me look at them and asked for my input. May he rest in peace.” – William Shelly Tobitt in the comments below the post ‘Press On’

Justin ‘JusBus’ Nation – He’s written and produced songs and remixes for many artistes including himself with his 2015 J. Nation CD (‘Vertigo’, ‘Hard Work’, ‘Sometimes I’, ‘Blasting Away’ etc.)

Dorbrene O’Marde – song listing requested. Dorbrene is also the publisher of Calypso Talk magazine and the author of the Short Shirt biography Nobody Go Run Me.

The Mighty Bottle (Percival Watts) – ‘Fungi’, ‘Dive Dung Low’, ’10 Bag a Sugar’.

Rupert ‘Littleman’ Pelle – Winning Junior Calypso titles during an uninterrupted eight year run: ‘Parenting’, ‘Prostitution’, and ‘Wadadli Children’ sung and won by Lady Challenger (pictured left, above), 2000-2002; ‘Jump & Wave’, ‘Aunty Esther Say’ sung and won by Princess Thalia (2003-2004); and ‘Train Us Up’, ‘T. N. Kirnon Say’, and ‘Thank You Icons’ sung and won by Lyricksman (2005-2007). – Junior calypso record courtesy a facebook post by Trevaughn ‘Lyricks Man’ Weston on Littleman’s passing in December 2020. Also, ‘Riot 68’ for Latumba – first song when he was still performing as Deceiver (1968) and ‘From Statehood to Independence’ for Prince Jasbo (1978), along with songs for Daddy Iko, Calypso Farmer, Baby Eve and many other junior calypsonians.


Rupert ‘Swallow’ Philo – ‘Raphael Trujillo‘ (1961), ‘Party in Space’, ‘Man to Man’, ‘Dawn of a New Day’, ‘We Marching’, ‘Subway Jam’, ‘One Hope One Love One Destiny’, ‘Don’t Stop this Party’, ‘Fire in De Backseat’, and more as chronicled here. With Short Shirt and Obstinate, he is considered one of the big three of Antiguan calypso and a legend in his own right. King Swallow died in 2020. RIP.


Quarkoo, circa 1942. (Museum of Antigua and Barbuda archival photo)

“The dominant form of popular music in Antigua [up to arouund 1950] was ‘Benna’. The main proponent at the time was a strolling minstrel John ‘Quarkoo’ Thomas.” – P. 20, King Short Shirt: Nobody Go Run Me by Dorbrene O’Marde. Listed among his songs – ‘Maude Smell Donkey’ and 1924’s ‘Man Mongoose, dog know your ways’; 1943’s ‘Yes, it is more than tongue can tell…’

Sir Prince Ramsey is a family physician by profession, an HIV/AIDS activist by choosing, a calypso lyricist and producer by calling. He has produced more than 45 calypso albums and written over 100 songs since 1979 for artistes like King Obstinate, Rupert ‘Baba’ Blaize (‘In Antigua’), Onyan (‘Stand up for Antigua’ – 1998 Calypso Monarch winner), De Bear (‘My Allegiance’ – 2003 Calypso crown winner; and ‘Man is Nothing but Dust’ – 2007 Leeward Islands calypso competition winner), Zero (‘Protect Yourself’ – 2002 Calypso Monarch winner), De Empress (‘We don’t want it here’ and ‘Power of a Woman’ – 2000 Queen of Calypso crown winner), Blade (‘The Brink’ – 2008 Carnival Development Committee winner for best writer and best calypso), and others (about 50 artistes in all). Dr. Ramsey died in 2019. RIP.

Paul ‘King Obstinate’ Richards – The Undefeated is the creator of such classic gems as 1980’s ‘Believe‘, ‘Children Melee’, ‘Always come back to You’, ‘Antigua’s True Heroes’, ‘Got a little Something  for  You’, ‘Coming down to Talk to You’ (1982), ‘Hungry’, ‘Shiny Eyes’, ‘Who kill me Sister?’ (1985), ‘I already Talk to you’ (1992), ‘All of Self‘ (1993), ‘Ready to Go‘ (1996), as well as ‘Wet You Hand’, ‘Gold Rush’, and ‘Is Love a Love You’.

King Obstinate

Shelly Tobitt – Arguably Antigua and Barbuda’s best songwriter in the calypso arena, especially at his height in the 1970s during his winning partnership with the country’s most lauded calypso icon The Monarch King Short Shirt. It’s important to define Shelly’s partnership with his cousin and frequent collaborator Short Shirt. “Shelly wrote, virtually everything. He also provided ‘base’ melodies. Short Shirt either fine-tuned the melodies or created new ones based on his singing abilities or his own melodic instincts and he helped shape musical arrangements. He also provided a grounding of Shelly’s lyrics. Shelly was the poet, prone to flights of fancy and fantasy. Short Shirt pulled him back, opting for the ghetto slang or the dialect expression in phrase or sentence.” – p. 81 – 82, Nobody Go Run Me by Dorbrene O’Marde. Among the songs they did together are ‘Lamentation’ in 1973; ‘Lucinda’ in 1974; the songs on 1975’s Pan Rhapsody album – ‘Pan Rhapsody’, ‘Cry for Change’, ‘Awake’, ‘Antigua’, ‘Miss Yvette’, ‘Leh We Go’, ‘Vengeance’, ‘Lead On’, and ‘Come J’ouvert’; the tracks on the classic Ghetto Vibes album of 1976 – ‘Carnival ’76’, ‘Inspite of All’, ‘When’, ‘Tourist Leggo’, ‘Nobody Go Run Me’, ‘Power & Authority’, ‘Fantasy’, ‘Vivian Richards’, ‘Hands off Harmonites’, and ‘No Promises’; ‘Rock and Prance’ in 1977, ‘Jammin’ and ‘Gently on my Mind’ in 1978,  ‘Press on‘ the title track for an album that included songs like ‘Viva Grenada’  and ‘What You Going to do’ in 1979, and ‘HIV/AIDS’ and ‘Fyah’ in 1988. Tobitt’s discography also includes:  Latumba’s ‘Culture Must be Free’ and ‘Liberate Your Mind’ in 1979, Chalice’s ‘Show Me Your Motion‘ (1981), King Progress’ ‘You getting it‘ (1984), Figgy’s ‘Look what they’ve done to my song‘ (1998), ‘Benna’ (2011). ETA: “I am the writer and arranger of my works and provide everything needed to realize a complete production. Back then, before I could write the musical parts for the musicians I needed an arranger to do so, but it was my arrangements that they wrote. I sat with and instructed every arranger I worked with how I wanted the songs, and what rifts and motifs to write.” – William Shelly Tobitt in the comments section below the post ‘Press On’

Cuthbert ‘Best’ Williams

Cuthbert ‘Best’ Williams with Queen Ivena

has written winning tunes for Antiguan monarchs Smarty Jr. (who won the crown in 1993, 1994, 1995 with ‘Never Again’, ‘Role of the Calypsonians’, ‘What Black Power Means’, ‘Cry for Change’, ‘Draw the Line’ and ‘Follow the Leader’) and Ivena (who won the monarch crown 2003, 2004, 2005 with ‘Robin Hood in Reverse’, ‘Ivena’s Agenda’, ‘After Lester’, ‘Reparation for Africa’, ‘What Did Castro Say’, and ‘Don’t Pressure Me’; and the  Queen of Calypso crown in 2001 – 2005 with ‘Old Road Fight’, ‘Save Ms. Calypso’, ‘I’m Angry’, ‘Remember the Pledge’, and the other named songs).

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, Oh Gad!, Fish Outta Water, and Musical Youth). All Rights Reserved. Seriously, a lot of time, energy, love and frustration goes in to researching and creating content for this site; please don’t just take it up just so without even a please, thank you or an ah-fu-she-subben (credit). 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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Spotlight – Calypso Icon, Swallow

Swallow regards accolades like his induction into the Sunshine Hall of Fame, national honours, spots on Calypso and Soca “Best of the Century” lists, and now the International Soca Award as “a kind of inspiration (to) go ahead.”

That said; he’s pleased as punch about the recognition. It shows that people appreciate the work.

And it’s quite a body of work. He has netted four Calypso Monarch crowns – 1973, 1977, 1978, 1985 – and five Road March wins – ’72, ’73, ’75, ’83, ’84. But his legend is greater than the number of crowns thanks to enduring tracks like Satan, Party in Space, March for Freedom, Dawn of a New Day, Subway Jam, and Man to Man to name a few.

This is excerpted from a piece I did for the Antigua Observer in August 2010 as Rupert ‘Philo’ Swallow prepared to receive his Lifetime Achievement Award from the Soca Award Organization. Read the entire article, here.

Here’s an earlier piece (written after he made the Sunshine Music Hall of Fame) written sometime in 2008 and re-posted here, just because. Remember the site rules and do not repost either piece without permission:

By Joanne C. Hillhouse

It was inevitable that Swallow would join his brethren, amongAntigua’s calypso trinity, in the Caribbean Sunshine Awards Hall of Fame. That time has come. Rupert Philo is one of four 2008 nominees to the Hall of Fame making him only the third Antiguan to be so honoured. Short Shirt was first in 2002 and Obstinate followed in 2004 in a category overwhelmingly dominated by Trinidad artistes such as Sparrow,Kitchener, Black Stalin, Lord Nelson and Roaring Lion.

Like these, the Big Three are, of course, legends here in Wadadli; and the case could be made that the international accolade is long over due. Certainly, Swallow has paid his dues racking up Calypso Monarch winner after winner from 1973’s March for Freedom and Push Ya Push Dey to 1977’s Dawn of a New Day and Jam Dem Back, 1978’s One Love One Hope One Destiny and Win’ing, to 1985’s All is Not Lost and Tung Mash Dung. Then there are the line up of road march wins; 1972’s Pow Pow, 1973’s, Push Ya Push Dey, 1975’s Shake and Break Yuh Bam Bam, 1983’s Party in Space, and 1984’s Satan. Other hits are indelible parts of the Caribbean soca canon such as SubwayJam.

Announcing his elevation to the Hall of Fame, the Sunshine Awards committee, in a press release, stated, “With his style of lyrically-strong soca songs, he has made such a mark on calypso that no show featuring calypsonians in Antigua or abroad can be considered complete without the appearance of King Swallow.”

Still flashy and agile, Swallow remains a much-in-demand artiste and calypso ambassador; and as the revived rivalry with King Short Shirt, in time for 2007’s Caribbean Calypso Competition, demonstrates, he remains one of the great showmen and humorists of the art form.

This is not the first honour for the soca elder, far from it. Highlights include an ISA Legend award in 2006 and designation as one of the Top 50 Calypsonians of the 20th Century by Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organization. Also, he’s been honoured at home, with, for one, the Grand Cross of the Most Illustrious Order of Princely Heritage.

It’s noteworthy that this is not the first Sunshine win for the man often referred to as the Soca King of the World. In the Sunshine competitive categories, he won Calypso of the Year and Best Party Calypso in1989 for Fire in de Backseat, and Best Political Commentary for 1997’s CDC.

The Hall of Fame announcement, however, is another level of recognition. As co-founder of the Hall of Fame, Dr. Hollis ‘Chalkdust’Liverpoolstated in a release, “We do this with a sense of duty, knowing that those whom we nominate to the SUNSHINE Awards Hall of Fame are men and women who paved the way for many of us. We take extra pleasure from the fact that many of our past bards initiated into the SUNSHINE Awards Hall of Fame are only remembered by the rest of the society because they are honored by SUNSHINE Awards.”

The other Hall of Fame nominees are late legendary Trinidad pannist Belgrave Bonaparte, another pan innovator from the land of the hummingbird John Ernesto Ferreira, and calypsonian and calypso activist Robert ‘the Mighty Skipper’ Stafford.

Also announced via release were several 2008 honorees: Emmy and Image Award nominated actress CCH Pounder, a Guyanese, known for her outstanding work in TV films like Common Ground and TV shows like L. A. Law, E.R., and The Shield; music educator Lauren Ramdhanny, who’s made outstanding contributions to the Spice Isle’s music education programme; friend of the arts Holly Betaudier, a Trini; Ivory Coast dancer Mamadou Dahoué; soca chutney artiste  Sundar Popo; Vincentian calypsonian Quinyn ‘Toiler’ Joseph; Ugandan businessman and philanthropist Habib Kagimu; Trinidad ‘Master Artiste and National Treasurer’; LeRoy Clarke; and well-known Jamaican entertainer Oliver Samuel. In announcing the honorees, Sunshine Founder Gil Figaro said, “These great men and women for whom the SUNSHINE Awards was conceived and developed have, through the years, brought joy to our lives and made significant contributions to the development of the various Caribbean  and South American art forms — the art forms that connect us to our cultural heritage”. It’s not clear if there will be competitive categories in 2008; there was none last year.

The black tie Awards are scheduled for October 25th inNew York.

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