By: Julie Carrington, (BGIS)
A life-sized wax figure of Slinger “The Mighty Sparrow” Francisco was unveiled before a gathering of artists, calypso and cultural aficionados.
The figure, sculpted by Frances Ross and Art Edwards of the Caribbean Wax Museum, joins those of other calypsonians immortalised in wax, such as the Mighty Gabby, the Mighty Grynner and Mac Fingall.
During the event sponsored by Consolidated Corporate and Commercial Credit, a subsidiary of Ansa Merchant Bank, Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley shared anecdotes of her favourite Sparrow songs growing up, and admitted that she had a greater appreciation for his songs and their messages as an adult.
“It would be impossible for me to be Prime Minister of Barbados and an event taking place for the Mighty Sparrow for me not to be associated with it. Anyone who came from Mars and did not know anything about the Caribbean could literally pick up the body of work of the Mighty Sparrow and understand what happened along the way. Those who did not know about the withdrawal of the American bases could immediately understand it in Jean and Dinah…the Yankees gone Sparrow take over town,” she remarked.
The Prime Minister said, as he penned his masterful calypsos, the Mighty Sparrow never lost touch with the community and used his calypsos as a social instrument of guidance, legal affairs and other issues of the day.
However, Ms. Mottley lamented that calypso post-Independence, was “pigeonholed” as seasonal music and “associated at best with carnival, while reggae was a way of life and was all year”.
“We have seen how especially during the early years of Independence led to a situation where reggae dominated the psyche of the Caribbean people because it was being played day after day. But Caribbean people refuse to accept calypso as a year- round experience and saw it only as a seasonal interaction or a feel happy event. Only the real aficionados would listen to it year-round.”
Ms. Mottley continued: “I hope that we can turn the corner. There is nothing that says that our music must only be limited to a season, and I also want to reflect with pride that that is the reason why we took the decision at CBC to have an all Barbadian music station.”
She said Caribbean people owed a debt of gratitude to the Mighty Sparrow because he represented the aspirations of the people, and ranked high globally.
A highlight of the evening’s proceedings was when Prime Minister Mottley spoke with the Mighty Sparrow via phone and paid glowing tribute to him.
Tributes were also paid by the Most Honourable Anthony “Mighty Gabby” Carter and President of the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Barbados, Cynthia Ralston.