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History through music

“I think it is important that this type of music is recorded and also kept in the forefront”

by Kimberley Cummins

In the words of calypsonian Ronnie D: “It’s a paradise this country that we live in, when we compare it to other places and how them people suffering”.

Back in 1983 Ronnie Davis went to the Pic-O-De-Crop Finals to compete with the song, It’s A Paradise, and close to 30 years onward he steadfastly boasted that the island was indeed still a paradise.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY at the National Cultural Foundation in West Terrace, St. James, the now Cultural Officer for Music Education at the NCF, is resolute that for Barbados to remain that paradise he sang about citizens must never forget their history.

Davis has therefore embarked to ensure that this happens with the launch of his first album. Though he was yet to decide on a name, the album will consist of 15 folk songs all performed by him.

“We don’t have enough persons out there performing folk music and even as cultural officer for music at the NCF I have been trying very hard to stimulate and get people interested in performing folk again because after all, folk music is really a history of our fore parents and how they lived their lives back then,” he said.

“It would have their personal information, it will speak to the hardship they experienced for the young people to learn from, without that information they won’t have a clue of what their ancestors experienced. They need to know what their fore parents’ past was all about and it helps them to appreciate the things they have to today.

“I think it is important that this type of music is recorded and also kept in the forefront. We need to have more folk songs in the schools and so in recent times the National Cultural Foundation has sent tutors to the primary schools to teach the youngsters folk songs but my interest and recording folk songs has been sparked because I find that especially around independence time you find we get a heavy set of people actually calling in and asking for folk songs for the schools where there is a lot of the independence programmes.

“I thought that though we have books out there already with folk song we don’t have them in the medium of a compact disc. I think that it is important that we have this music recorded on CD so I have set about putting the majority of the folk song in that format so that they will be available to schools and all sundry,” he said.

Also the director of the Pride of Wilson Hill Folk group, Davis said he was desirous of releasing an additional album with 13 of his own calypsos such as: Bus Stand Jam and I See All Black for music lovers who would just want to sit back, reminisce and enjoy some old calypsos.

Many Barbadians may be more familiar with Davis because of his calypsos which took him to the Finals on two occasions but prior to that he sang on the hotel circuit for many years and travelled to Germany, Holland and other countries to perform gaining knowledge in a variety of genres.

Competing in the St. Philip calypso competition eons ago his interest in calypso was as well as performing with the Conquerors and the Untouchables calypso tents he has done demos for calypsonians Serenader and Invader 3.

In recent years the public has not heard any new music from him, apart from the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts’ jingle, NIFCA is for me, NIFCA is for you, but Davis said that was because he had been extremely busy. He owns his own studio, Marrolga Digital Studio, which was named after each of his three songs, Marlon Proverbs, Roland Sergeant and Gay Melody Man Harewood.

“I have been doing a lot of work- a lot of work has been going on with the workshops and training. I think I got so lost and caught up helping other people that I didn’t concentrate that much on me but I have been encouraged to come back out there and do some singing again and I think I will but not in competition because in the interest of transparency I work at the NCF, I help plan the programme so I can’t be a part of it,” he said.

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