Photos by Learie Charles
By Jasminee Sahoye
Almost one year ago, he was in a coma at a New York hospital and rumours were that he was dead, but the Calypso King of the World, Slinger Francisco, aka The Mighty Sparrow, has not lost his strong melodic voice and charm.
Last Wednesday, shortly after the screening of Trinidad and Tobago filmmaker, Geoffrey Dunn’s The Glamour Boyz Again! Sparrow and Superior on the Hilton Rooftop, he serenaded the audience at the Royal Cinema in Toronto with some of his popular calypsos and responded to questions in calypso form. The film was the main feature for the launch of the CaribbeanTales International Film Festival (CTFF) in Toronto, now in its ninth year.
The feature-length documentary reveals a remarkable acoustic performance by two of Calypso’s most venerated figures, the Mighty Sparrow and Lord Superior. It includes reminiscences by both artists whose friendship dates back more than 55 years. Sparrow’s execution at the Hilton is arguably his best-rendered acoustic performance ever recorded.
Asked how he would like to be remembered, The Mighty Sparrow told The Caribbean Camera: “Love … comedy … and don’t talk about singing. I don’t intend to retire; I just intend to sing and sing and when I can’t, I will still be trying to sing. So you know what is going to happen, I am going to be there on that stage singing, unless of course, I can’t walk.”
And in response to the question of how he feels? “Right now? I’m ready to rumble. I’m the giant of the jungle. The Mighty Sparrow is ready to rumble,” he says with a laugh.
As a tribute to the iconic Calypsonian, reigning Canadian Calypso Monarch Macomeh Fifi belted out her composition titled Before You’re Gone to “Birdie” who sat on the stage and listened intently as she performed.
The Organization of Calypso Performing Artistes -Toronto also paid tribute to the Calypso King of the World with a plaque in recognition of his contributions to the art form in his adopted home of Trinidad and Tobago, the U.S., Canada and around the world.
Founder of CTFF, Frances-Anne Solomon, said CaribbeanTales has grown over the years as well as the number of films produced. “It’s been a lot of hard work but we’ve definitely seen the payoff.”
She adds that there’s a recognition and “lots of filmmakers coming up who are telling all kinds of different stories and so it’s very gratifying, this development and this growth.”
Solomon says they are distributing over 300 films adding “this is a testament to the level of production. It’s very exciting.”
She says that “every year, I would say production triples in the region because equipment is now more affordable and it’s easier to use. For example, the internet to distribute and exhibit, so the whole medium becomes accessible young talented and or just creative people.”
CTFF continues until this Saturday at the Royal Cinema. For more information and the schedule visit Caribbean Tales-Events