Calypsonian: Guide youth in right direction

by Donna Sealy

Veteran calypsonian Serenader says music needs to be protected.

“The music could be a lot better than it is right now. What we need is to guide the youth in the right direction — that’s all we need to do,” he said during an interview with Barbados TODAY.

“You can’t be a doctor unless you study and know what you’re doing — why should you step into music and mash it up? That is what a lot of artists are doing. I believe that because of the popularity of the artist they try to get on a CD. When an artist is on a CD he becomes popular among the youth… We need to show the youth the right direction to go to as far as the music.

“Music is something that cannot be rubbed off. You don’t rub it off of the CD and you get a different sound, it remains there. If it is a mistake, if you’re singing out of key it remains there for life. I think we need to protect music like any other art form or any other thing that we usually get a living from.

“It’s obvious that if you go to a bread shop you look for the better bread but that doesn’t mean that the person who’s selling the bad bread ain’t going to get his sold. He might have more friends than you…,” he said.

The calypsonian, whose real name is Elenza Brewster, said he would not expect to go on stage and command the audience as artistes such as Peter Ram and Lil’ Rick or Timmy would, because no matter how good his song was the people “do not want to hear me”.

He is advising the younger people to listen to, and act on, the advice being given by the older artists so they could grow.

“It is not that you don’t want them to do what they’re doing but they have to do it in the right way. Anybody can sing the fast tunes, I could sing a fast tune too, but I make sure it makes sense and I make sure the melody and everything is good…,” the member of De Big Show tent said.

In the meantime, he noted that some people, particularly the older ones, would note that his song had some good lyrics but the mediocrity was not benefitting Crop-Over.

“It is not good for the festival because at the end of the day it goes into the wastepaper basket. You don’t really hear it. Very few of those tunes you would hear after Crop-Over, maybe if you go to a party you would.

“You would realise that people like myself, Colin Spencer, John King and those guys would come out with a reasonable sounding tune, we still stand a chance of getting played (after Crop-Over) or picking up a job from people who want to sit down and eat and listen to a nice calypso,” he said.

Serenader stated they were “certain dinners that would carry certain artists” and he had performed for some of those people.

“I know one of the popular artists performed in Boston and asked the guests to raise their forks, they said ‘We don’t want him back’. I’m happy that I could still entertain that kind of audience,” he added.

In spite of complaints in some quarters that CDs were no longer sold or were selling poorly, he said his Soca for Lovers, which he released during the “heart of Crop-Over”, was still being bought by Barbadians at home and in the Diaspora.

“Once you’ve got material it will last. You need material that people can sit down and enjoy their breakfast, their lunch or their dinner while your music is playing… The buyer is very important to the art form. We have to respect those people for without them we don’t have an art form,” he said.

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