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A Fraternity in Mourning. Iconic Calypso Mother, Singing Sandra’s Passing Leaves Hearts Sore.

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“Her voice taught us to raise our own.”

At just 64-years of age, Sandra DesVignes- Millington, one of the iconic Matriarchs of the Calypso and Soca fraternities in Trinidad and Tobago, has passed away. In response, the tear-jerking expressions of many in the industry, from T&T and across the Caribbean, have invoked emotions that for some, are unbearable.

Life has a way of throwing you off the saddle when you least expect it. The past year has felt like a nightmare for many in the entertainment industry. Covid-19 having disrupted industries, earnings and for some, family life, further news of unexpected death, brings harsh truth. You never know if today could be your last.

Alison Hinds was saddened by Singing Sandra’s death.

Barbados Soca Queen, Alison Hinds, wrote, “I woke up this morning to the news of Singing Sandra’s passing. She was a true icon. She set our standards and her voice taught us to raise our own. The heavens have added an amazing spirit to their choirs today.”

Fay-Ann Lyons too, expressed deep sadness. “Today we lost a Queen. Mother, as she was called by all who truly knew her. When an icon is lost, the culture feels it.”

Singing Sandra was a crowned the Calypso Monarch of Trinidad and Tobago in 1999 and 2003. In 1999 she became the second woman to win the crown with her songs, “Song for Healing” and “Voices from the Ghetto,” her renditions discussing issues of poverty and racism.

Heartbroken no doubt, singer Patrice Roberts who also affectionately called Sandra mother, took to social media with lamentation, praying that the news was not true. She thanked the iconic calypsonian for all that she had done.

Bunji Garlin called Sandra a fearless woman.

In true valiant style, Bunji Garlin who, with Sandra, many years ago had collaborated on a monster single called ‘Lie’, thanked her for her dedication to the art form and the land. He said Singing Sandra was the first Calypsonian to “meet me on the warpath,” acknowledging her as a serious force to be reckoned with. “Our love travels with you this day!!!! Fearless woman!!!,” he ended.

Nadia Batson, also heartbroken by the news, took to social media to share her thoughts as well:

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Caribbean Buzz

“Something Had to Happen. Radio People Had to Stand Up.” – JAIGA.

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Say what you want about him, he lives for the Artform. His slogan, “Great is the Artform,” is a permanent reminder of Jaiga’s undying love for Soca music. He’s represented hard for that aspect of Trinidad and Tobago’s culture for many years and even now as a radio personality at 96.1WEFM, Jaiga makes no qualms about his devotion to Soca. 

Jaiga during performance.

Last year, the announcement by the country’s Prime Minister that there would be no carnival 2021, backed many artistes and entertainment stakeholders against a wall. Their livelihoods had been affected for most of 2020 and it seemed the same would take place in 2021. Others, like Jaiga felt pained at the thought of no cultural expression. In his mind, something had to happen. “My team – the Breakfast Party team decided that it was very important for us and I think every radio station practitioner, everybody who has a platform, to encourage not only Trinidadians but the wider diaspora to do their part to keep the art alive in order to ensure that all stakeholders have something to fall back on when that time reaches. We needed the essence of the Carnival in the air,” he said.

Speaking with Ebuzztt, Jaiga explained that even after hearing the government’s cultural arm, the NCC, announce that there would be no move to host a virtual carnival, he knew he had to do something. He would go on to call on his team at 96.1 WEFM, to produce the virtual Breakfast Party – a carnival show complete with artistes and costume wearing hosts Nikki Crosby and Ro’dey, and viewable on social media and  later uploaded to YouTube. 

Jaiga, a man who understands both the business and the creativity of the Carnival culture, went on to epress his view on the ongoing debate regarding the format of the present day cultural delivery. He hinted that selfish perspectives have led to some discord.

What about Post Carnival 2021?

Jaiga, like other forward thinkers in the industry, has already begun thinking about the future.

Outside of this virtual carnival, he says this may have proven that the time is ripe for produced cultural shows that can showcase the energy and vibrance of Trinidad and Tobago as the Mecca of carnival, to the world.

He further said International promoters and local bodies could now forge ties to the benefit of all involved.

The artiste and radio personality noted that the time has come to give the world something that is well packaged – something that Trinbagonians could be proud of.

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Caribbean Buzz

Kes the Band Takes Over Tonight!

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This is Carnival week in Trinidad and Tobago. The energy of a festival that annually delivers the most vibes that can be experienced anywhere in the world, would have culminated next week Tuesday. Covid-19 has however put a spoke in the wheel of true “Carnivalians,” but the spirit of the festival lives in their hearts.

Artistes have been answering the call. Last week, Nadia Batson delivered what was undeniably one of the best carnival related television productions seen over the years. Her team demonstrated an aptitude and perfect understanding of what viewers require of a televised soca experience.

Her show- Artform 3, was followed up by events hosted by Preedy, Lyrikal and Blaxx, all of which gave home audiences much to enjoy.

This week, Kes The Band takes over. Artist, Kees Dieffenthaller and his team will deliver a 5 night soca series dubbed ‘IZWE’. It starts tonight! According to a media release, the events being hosted live at The Sound Forge in Port-of-Spain, will see some 300 patrons in attendance, each night, with all covid-19 protocols put in place by government, being observed. The events all air live on CNC3 in Trinidad and Tobago and affiliate stations up the Caribbean. Fans outside of the region can livestream the concert via www.kestheband.com, by purchasing tickets for $10. The live stream is available at no cost within the Caribbean.

“This is a presentation of culture in all its different aspects,” said Kees. “We’ll be celebrating the essence of who we are. It all began with drums and fire and, out of the revolution of our ancestors, Carnival came to be the sweetest revolution. We are celebrating our light in these dark times,” he said.

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