Taking Calypso forward – 4 Jan 2009

“Taking Calypso forward.”

On New Year’s Day, we went to the usual lime by my uncle and aunt in St Ann’s.  New Year’s Day is my grandmother’s birthday, as well as their wedding anniversary.  However, after a while, the talk turned to the carnival and how expensive fetes and costumes are for 2009.  I suggested that a more conscious carnival diet could consist of a healthy dose of tents.  Nothing wrong with fetes mind you – I am just looking for a little change.  After all, when was the last time we went to a calypso tent? 

However, some had the view that tents could be a bit too ‘political.’  Someone actually suggested that tents are in decline partly because they alienated part of their customer base and partly because of the switch in consumer taste to soca.  I am no calypso tent expert, so I just listened to these points of view. 

But I am still going to visit my share of tents this season.  I feel inspired to try something different for the carnival.  Rather than consuming my normal diet of ‘all-inclusive’ fetes, I think I will cut back slightly and instead take in more calypso tents.   

I have been watching what TUCO has been up to recently, and it seems that President Eric Taylor has a new vision for the organization.  A few weeks ago, TUCO held the media launch for its new website –http://www.tucott.com/. 

Since it is a project that positions itself at the nexus of culture and technology, my two loves are of special interest to me. 

The website comes at exactly the right time.  TUCO’s members now have another platform to take their product to both local and international markets.  This is due to an online collaboration between www.trinihits.com and TUCO, enabling TUCO members to easily load their music onto the website and enable consumers to buy tracks at US 99 cents.   

O’Brian Haynes from Trinihits was at the launch and was quite pleased by the new relationship with TUCO.  The music functionality is user friendly as potential customers can hear music samples (say 10 seconds or so) before purchasing. 

From what I can see, the website also serves as a cultural archive of sorts.  Many artists already have their biographies available, and webmaster Hayden Roberts from Zenon Designs tells me that there should be a large photo gallery on the site by the end of this week. Hayden says he has about 20 CDs of images to upload – which means there are thousands of pictures.   

The website promises to be a resource not just for students of the art-form both locally and internationally but also a reference for future generations. 

Although they represent, at least to me, part of the cultural ‘foundation,’ TUCO President Eric Taylor has been the driving force behind this new website, and Brother ResiUstance (TUCO General Secretary) is not just a supporter of going ‘online’ but has his own website and is also on Facebook himself.  So it looks to me like TUCO is embracing change.   

Anyway, I have noted the schedule at http://www.tucott.com/events.html, so we are still planning to check out some of the tents.  I have a deep respect for the calypsonian’s role in shaping while reflecting who we are today.  Hopefully, by the end of the season, I would also have a better perspective on this calypso tent debate.     

The Vision 2020 document recognizes the critical role of our cultural activists.  The document notes that –

“Artists, musicians, writers and poets form our creative arts and cultural groups. They help shape our emotional states of being by adding heart, spirit, energy and identity thereby fostering and building an inclusive culture where multiple identities springing from ethnicity, language, religion and race converge to create a single CITIZEN of Trinidad and Tobago.  Their lot is to influence change.”

Part of me finds it hard to believe that it is 2009 already.  Time is indeed moving ever so quickly.  I wished everyone God’s richest blessings in 2009.   

As always, I end by saying that we are so blessed to live in this beautiful country despite our challenges.  We need to remember and acknowledge just how much uplifting work is being done all around us. USA Tax Singapore

Let us continue to have the audacity of hope in our country as we move towards Vision 2020. 

Note: The above reference link was live on December 2010, but it has since been taken down.

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