Missing Bumba

by Shawn Cumberbatch

bumbaGabby is out, Red Plastic Bag will not be defending his Pic-O-De-Crop crown, Lil’ Rick is not competing this year, and neither is Edwin.

But while his name has not generated news headlines like this quartet, another longstanding and familiar name is also missing from Crop-Over 2013 – Brian Bumba Payne.

Not only has Payne not recorded and released any new music this year, but he is not performing in a calypso tent for only the second time since his 1982 debut in Rockers Tent.

“You should never say never in life so I wouldn’t say ‘I done’, I would just say at this point that I am taking a break,” the 1987 Pic-O-De-Crop monarch told Barbados TODAY in an interview this afternoon.

“I wouldn’t say that I am not going to continue to create music and record, but at this point I am taking a break from the tents. I can’t predict how I will feel next year, but at this point I just feel that after 30 seasons in the tents, 29 being consecutive, that I have just reached that point.

“I haven’t recorded anything this season, I suspect though that I will do some recordings, but the music I am going to be doing will be more universal messages, I don’t think I will go down the same social commentary road that I have doing every year. They may be released not necessarily for Crop-Over, but as I get the urge,” he added.

The name Bumba is a well known and respected one in the calypso arena. Over the years he was one of the most consistent Pic-O-De-Crop competitors reaching the semifinal and final stages of that contest on numerous occasions. His four second placed finishes in the competition, three of them consecutive – 1990, 1991, and 1992 – prompted people to christen him ‘Number Two’, a name he said some people still called him.

Today, the National Council on Substance Abuse Drug Education Officer, said one of his major disappointments remained the absence of air play for his songs, including recent compositions released outside of Crop-Over. “Two of my recent recordings are Be Nice and A Positive Attitude, which I regret to say, have not been given the airplay necessary. I did those at the beginning of last year,” he noted.

“I did them with the hope that they would help to promote the concept being promoted at the time by the National Initiative for Service Excellence, but I am very disappointed in the level of airplay they are being given. The messages have not been promoted in the way that I would have wished.

“Generally I have a lot of music recorded, live and studio recordings, on various CDs and compilations, but the majority of it is not played so there is a lot of music which I have done that Barbadians do not know. They are at the radio stations, but a good volume of my repertoire is not being played,” a disappointed Payne said.

Part of his solution to this was making all of his music accessible on the Internet, something he intended to do “soon”.

Payne, who was a popular winner of the Pic-O-De-Crop competition 26 years ago with the songs They Want To Know and Love Your Own, also won the Independence calypso competition when it was last held in 1993, in addition to placing second to Trinidadian Gypsy in the 1987 Barclays King of the World Show.

He made it clear that calypso remained a love of his, but that he would continue to expand his creative skills in other genres, including rhythm poetry, expressing his views not mere only on local and international current affairs but specific social issues like drug abuse, and HIV awareness. There was the added advantage of these compositions being “used as an excellent teaching tool”.

“I know that because I use it in the school setting. So far I have recorded three rhythm poems on a CD called Poetry and Rhythm. They are Abstinence, Get High Naturally, which promotes healthy alternative activities to drugs abuse, and Calm Down – Give Peace A Chance, which deals with anger management,” he said.

His message to calypso fans missing his voice and presence from the tent stage was that they could “look forward to new compositions from me”.

“I am not done with composing and singing. I will certainly be putting out music in the future, just listen out and they will still be getting music, it will be more universal messages. I will soon be putting all my music on the Internet so that it will be available for everyone,” he said. shawncumberbatch@barbadostoday.bb

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