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The Griots

An interview in the Trinidad Express with Prof. Gordon Rohlehr entitled” No Soca Boat Without Rudder” 30/01/05 was very encouraging. I really hope that the good Prof. embarks on the monumental but vital task of documenting the works of the giants of calypso as he indicated he would. I would expect it to include socio/political/economic/historical commentaries, so that readers could appreciate the influences that gave rise to so many classics by those who helped to shape public opinion in a time when information was not as readily available as it is today. This work is important for posterity but also to show our appreciation for the men and women who fought tremendous odds to enable us to develop this aspect of our culture. They are our original men of letters and are deserving of our recognition.

Like all our artists, Rudder stands on the shoulders of giants, but unlike so many whom have sunk into the abyss of commercialism with its jump and wine philosophy, King David has taken us to new dizzying heights. He has rescued us from the specter of mediocrity. His substantive calypsos with it rhythmic beat and instructive lyrics make us proud to claim our cultural heritage. David, Black Stalin, Bro. Resistance, Bro. Valentino and a handful of other contemporaries are not simply entertainers; they are Griots - repositories of our country’s history and culture who tell our stories in song.
Prof. please let them know before they die, how much we appreciate the work they do. Tell them how they sustain and nourish our collective cultural spirit both at home and abroad. I know people on every continent who are influenced and strengthened by their music which has transcended race and class. Like Bob Marley, they too have an international admiring audience. With rhythm and song, they minister to our spirits. Prof., write the book to let them know we hear. Write it to let them know how much we love them.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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