By Ben Torres
Calypso Joe, Antigua and Barbuda’s first Road March King (1970) and its 1971 Calypso Monarch, took his audience on a delightful trip down memory lane on Friday night at a “cultural evening ” at the Chelsea Eaton hotel in Toronto to mark his country’s 35th anniversary of its independence.
Accompanying himself on the guitar, Calypso Joe (Joseph Hunte), sporting a cream suit with matching boots, belted out popular kaisos of yesteryear along with some country and western numbers and had his audience in stitches with his extempo rendition.
But it was Tian Winter , the current Groovy Soca Monarch Champion of Antigua and Barbuda , decked out in a three-piece black suite with Kente Cloth vest, who, later in the evening, brought the 200-odd guests to their feet with his energetic and engaging performance.
Winter who is sometimes compared to Trinidad and Tobago’s soca star Machel Montano, held the soca monarch title in Antigua and Barbuda from 2012 to 2014.
Calypso Joe and Winter came to Canada for the “cultural evening” put on by the Antigua and Barbuda Consulate General in Toronto.
Also onstage was Timeka Wharton ,sales and marketing manager of the Antigua and Barbuda marketing office in Toronto. She covered the Martin Gaye song ” Let’s get it on” which was well received by the audience.
The seven -member Pan Fantasy (stage Side) steel orchestra , Toronto’s Panorama champions, got the event underway at 6:15 p.m. sharp with a medley of tunes that was a fitting start to an excellent display of Antiguan and Barbudian musical talent.
Anne-Marie Layne, Antigua and Barbuda’s Consul General, declared the ” cultural evening” open and spoke of her country’s independence as a “coming of age.”
(Antigua and Barbuda attained political independence from Britain on November 1, 1981.)
Among the government officials present at the “cultural evening” were Kiva P. Clarke, Consul General of Trinidad and Tobago and Derrick James, Consul General of Grenada.
M.C. was Clifton Joseph, the widely known spoken word artiste, and DJ music was provided by DJ Gravity.
The guest list included people from a wide cross-section of the Antiguan and Barbudian community in Toronto as well as people from various age groups, ranging from the Antigua and Barbuda Consul General’s nine year old son, Mikel Campbell, to 84-year old Samuel Stephens, the reigning Antiguan Warri Champion. (Warri is a popular Antiguan board game)
An audio/visual presentation on the current and future plans for development of Antigua and Barbuda held the audience in rapt attention for the first 30 minutes of the ” cultural evening” which was the first of three “coming of age” events to mark Antigua and Barbuda’s Independence anniversary in Greater Toronto Area.
A gala will be held at the La Parc Conference and Banquet Centre in Thornhill on November 5 and a church service at the Anglican Church of St. Jude in Toronto on Nov 6.