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.
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.