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Sayamanda

Posted: August 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Column | 2 Comments »

Sayamanda concert ad

 

It’s exciting to see that a group of artistes has been drawn together to do a tribute concert to the late, great Andre Tanker. Andre Tanker, if you don’t know, was a Trinidadian musician, singer, songwriter and bandleader who pioneered a world-music sound here. His career spanned decades and he kept re-inventing himself, from his beginnings as a musician learning to play pan under Invaders’ Ellie Mannette, to being a bandleader in the ballroom dancing scene of the 50s, to creating reggae-jazz-Afrobeat influenced black power anthems in the 70s, to collaborations with rapso and rock bands in the 90s and Naughties. He passed away in 2003.

In a lot of ways, Andre Tanker played the soundtrack to my life. I grew up hearing the feral beat of his drum-driven track (from the  the movie Bim, which he scored) as the theme music to the Best Village arts and culture shows on TTT. I didn’t even know he’d written it, and it was only, decades later, after he had died, that I discovered that distinctive “dou-dou-dou-doum, dou-dou-dou-doum” was the soundtrack to a young Ralph Maharaj’s Bim thrashing through the forest in flight in that seminal movie made in Trinidad and Tobago. After that beat, there was always, and will always be, “Sayamanda”, a song about home and community that makes me cry every time. And “Hosannah”, a joyful prayer song that was sung at Andre’s funeral. And “Basement Party”, the most soulful groove any Trini ever ruefully shook his head to in a New York lime. It was his lyrical mastery that got me most–he could paint a whole world in a few deft words. But it was also, certainly, his music, that crafty, grounded, world-embracing way he had of shaping a groove. The downbeat drag of “Basement Party”, daring you not to wine; the pure sweetness of heartbreak of “Morena Osha”. I don’t know what Andre Tanker couldn’t do. He made music that still makes me shiver.

He was also a sweet, sweet guy. A perfectionist, I thought, but also perceptive and human. One of my regrets in life is that the last occasion on which I spent any significant time with him I promised I would pursue my songwriting, and I haven’t. I guess I still have a chance to rectify that and eliminate the regrets. Who knows. But if I ever have a songwriting career you can thank (or blame) Andre Tanker.

I don’t know if anybody can get Andre Tanker’s music as exactly right as he could. But I’m willing to bet that with the cast of this show, they’ll have a mighty good shot.

SAYAMANDA … with Andre in Mind, takes place at 8.30 pm, September 24, 2011, at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s. Produced by Golden Chord Management and Foreday Mornin’ Entertainment.

Featuring: Ruth Osman, Vaughnette Bigford, Michele Henderson, Nigel Rojas and others, accompanied by musicians Ron Reid, Theron Shaw, Harvey Wirht and others. Tickets are $250 and part proceeds go to The Andre Tanker Heritage Fund.

 

UPDATE:

Got this press release from the show’s organisers; it seems the show has been indefinitely postponed. Bummer. I was really looking forward to it. Hopefully it will be staged soon.

It is with much regret that Golden Chord Management and Foreday Mornin’ Entertainment announce the postponement of Sayamanda … with André in mind, a concert conceptualized to celebrate the music and legacy of André Tanker, one of our country’s finest musicians.Sayamanda was originally carded for Republic Day September 24, 2011 at Queen’s Hall.


After considered thought, we decided to re-schedule the concert to a date to be determined due to the current state of emergency and curfew restrictions initiated by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.
We, the principals of Golden Chord Management and Foreday Mornin’ Entertainment remain undaunted by the unfortunate turn of events and will continue to seek innovative ways to pay respect to our outstanding musical and cultural icons.

We assure our supporters and well-wishers that we will continue to provide fitting forums for the exploration of local arts and entertainment, despite the obstacles that arise from time to time.

Thank you for your support and we encourage you to keep supporting the arts.

 


Women in science

Posted: August 5th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Column | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

 

My younger daughter, The Lady, announced some time ago that she wants to be an inventor. I am not sure where she got the idea but she has been consistently coming up with inventions since then, some zany and some really practical. (If I told you what they were it would be copyright infringement. Sorry.) I’ve always encouraged both my girls to love science as well as the arts and humanities. We have books on biology, physics and general science all through the house and there’s a couple of science kits floating around the house, so it’s not completely out of the blue, but there aren’t really a lot of role models for her, especially in the Caribbean, and most of my friends are artists and writers, with the exception of her godmother, who is a petroleum engineer. That’s why I was so excited this week to hear from a friend of mine that a Trinidad-and-Tobago-born scientist was coming here for a visit.

The scientist is Camille Waldrop Alleyne, and she went to Mucurapo Girls’ RC, The Lady’s alma mater, and St Francois Girls’ College, the school for which The Lady passed in this year’s SEA. The bio sent to me by NIHERST, the organisation hosting her visit, is tremendously exciting:

“For the past 15 years, Camille Wardrop Alleyne has been dedicated to the advancement of aerospace and space technology. She is currently Assistant Program Scientist for the International Space Station (ISS), based at the NASA–Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, with responsibility for communicating the ISS’ scientific research and education programmes to stakeholders and the public.”

Wow! I couldn’t ask for a more tailor-made role model for The Lady.

A little background: because her elder sister Miss Thing and I both went to Bishop Anstey High School, The Lady was disappointed to have passed for St Francois. I didn’t share her feeling; I was over the moon. St Francois, a government secondary school, is a very sound educational institution with a brilliant track record and I’ve heard nothing but good things about them for the past few years. I hope that, as a business magnet school, they will understand The Lady’s forceful temperament and know how best to shape that bold spirit so that she is a leader and unafraid of her power while still compassionate and human. I think this is where she is meant to be and I intend to do everything I can to support her and her school as long as she needs me to. And that includes bigging up a St Francois alum!

While The Lady won’t be at the lecture because she’s visiting family abroad on a well-deserved holiday, I hope to go and make copious notes. If she wants to be a scientist, I have her back.

Here’s the flyer for Camille Waldrop Alleyne’s lecture. Here’s hoping other little girls and boys from T&T can get inspiration and guidance from her too.