by Eric Green
Friday, June 19th was Trinidad-Tobago nite at the Celebrate Brooklyn Band Shell.
First Samantha Thornhill performed with her spoken word work. She is an amazingly gifted writer/performer who creates real life images of everyday life of working people. She is a "Slam" artist who coached the University of Virginia's slam team to two consecutive victories. She is the writer-in-residence at the Bronx Academy of Letters where she teaches. According to her bio she writes children's books and will soon be releasing a children's book, which follows the life of her song, "Little Odetto," named after the famous folk singer.
Then came David Rudder. Rudder is a hero to Trinidadian people. The Prospect Park audience was filled with natives from that Caribbean country.
Rudder has been writing and releasing music since the mid-1980s. He follows in the steps of the Mighty Sparrow.
At their performance, maybe because he knew there would be people from not just Trinidad/Tobago, but also from his hometown of Belmont, he could really play to the crowd. He was wildly popular.
His song "Belmont" went right to his high school experiences, which were clearly shared by people in the audience. All of the seats were taken.
His song, "Oil and Music," dramatically describes Trinidad is an oil country that has an equally rich history of music. But, he clearly wanted people to know that his home country has an industrial base.
He song, "Haiti We are Sorry" for the very difficult history that that country has endured. His 1988 breakout album was called, "Haiti."
Rudder has been called "the Bob Marley of Soca," and when he slowed the music down to sing his newest song, "Jerusalem" the audience listened when he talked about the need for peace in that region. He plaintively cried that Christian, Muslim and Jewish people must live in peace. Some of the lyrics like: "The West Bank to Gaza" "the Golan Heights to Ramallah" sends a clear single where he stood. His reference e to the people who used to be the David against Goliath and now they are the reverse also made the point. Simple, but very deep.
Rudder's "Rally 'Round the West Indies," became the anthem of West Indies cricket.
Soca music, a form of calypso music, started in Trinidad-Tobago and moved to other Caribbean countries.