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Monday, August 02, 2010

Music Monday: Ambataila Woman

In 1991, four of the greatest forces in the Calypso world - Sandra De Vignes, Marva Joseph, Joanne Rowley and the late Beulah Bobb - joined together.  Better known as Singing Sandra, Marvellous Marva, Tigress and Lady B, they became the phenomenon we know as the United Sisters.

Most will remember them for their 1993 smash hit Whoa Donkey, a response Ronnie McIntosh's own hit song.  The records show though that in 1991 they immediately saw success, winning the National Song Festival and placing second in the Caribbean Song Festival with Lady B's composition Ambataila Woman.

All four sisters went on to continue their own fantastic individual careers, capturing accolade after accolade, including Sandra's National Calypso Monarch crown in 1999.  They will always be remembered though for this amazing song, and the power that they together put behind it:

Ambataila woman we are big and strong
We ah working whole day on a plantation
Ambataila woman we full ah power
Ambataila woman we come to take over…

Link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjF8bnXsNcQ

Friday, July 30, 2010

BBC's Witness Podcast: Trinidad Coup - July 27th, 1990

For persons interested in recent global history and events around the world, there's no better podcast to follow than BBC World's Witness. [LINK]

Appropriately subtitled "The story of our times told by the people who were there", Witness gives us first hand accounts of events in recent history, told by the people who were there.  Today's episode harks back to one of the defining events in the history of Trinidad & Tobago, with a witness account by one of the Caribbean's foremost journalists.

Twenty years ago a small group of radical muslims tried to take over the government on the Caribbean island of Trinidad.  Debbie Ransome lived through it all.

Click PLAY below to listen to the 10-minute retrospective.

Link to the audio file is http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/witness/witness_20100730-1030a.mp3

Monday, July 26, 2010

Music Monday: Be Careful What You Sample...

Truth Hurts is an American R&B singer and songwriter named Shari Watson.  Her one top ten hit came off her 2002 album Truthfully Speaking, a track with title Addictive.  An amazing piece of music in its own right, Addictive would have been one of very few chart-topping hip-hop tracks with South Asian influences.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTjPmgN98H8

Wilson's Addictive was though a remake of Kaliyon Ka Chaman Jab Banta Hain by UMI10 and featuring Indian actress Meghna Naidu.  The track in fact borrowed so heavily from the 2000 song that even the video was a close simile.  While Kaliyon Ka Chaman Jab Banta Hain was itself a fabulous track and wildly popular among South Asian youth, the absence of an English language version prevented crossover to the American market.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTPz7_AW5zk

Unfortunately for Wilson though, her production of the track contained an uncleared sample of the song Thoda Resham Lagta Hai, originally performed twenty years previously by record-breaking by Hindi artist Lata Mangeshkar.  Copyright holder Saregama India Limited filed an infringement lawsuit against Wilson's record company, requesting US$500 million in damages.  Eventually a judge ruled that Wilson's record was not to be sold without proper attribution to Mangeshkar.

The producer on Wilson's track, DJ Quik, claims to have stumbled on the melody one night on a Hindi station on television, most likely the video of Kaliyon Ka Chaman Jab Banta Hain.  What he probably didn't know or realise at the time was that the performance he saw did indeed sample one of the over 30,000 songs that Lata Mangeshkar is purported to have recorded.

According to her Wikipedia entry, Lata Mangeshkar, born September 28, 1929, is one of the best-known playback singers in the Hindi film industry.  Her career started in 1942 and has spanned over six and a half decades.  She sang in over a thousand Bollywood movies and has performed songs in over thirty-six regional Indian languages and foreign languages, primarily in Hindi.  She is the elder sister of the equally accomplished singer Asha Bhosle and lesser-known singers, brother Hridayanath Mangeshkar and sisters Usha Mangeshkar and Meena Mangeshkar.  Lata is the second vocalist ever to have received the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour.

Mangeshkar was featured in the Guinness Book of World Records from 1974 to 1991 for having made the most recordings in the world.  The claim then was that she had recorded no less than 25,000 solo, duet, and chorus-backed songs in 20 Indian languages between 1948 to 1974.  That record was eventually challenged by Mohammed Rafi who claimed to have sung around 28,000 songs.  After Rafi's death, in the 1984 edition, the Guinness Book of World Records stated Lata Mangeshkar's name for the "Most Recordings", but also cited Rafi's claim. Later editions of the Guinness Book continued to state though that Lata Mangeshkar had sung no fewer than 30,000 songs between 1948 and 1987.  Interestingly enough, Mangeshkar herself has no idea from whence Guinness got their numbers, saying too that she keeps no record of the number of songs that she has recorded.

No matter the official number, Mangeshkar's original song Thoda Resham Lagta Hai is itself a very beautiful piece of music.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCcXHGVDLdc

Have a fantastic Music Monday all!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Music Monday Double Play: Capleton, Kes and Tess

I'm bringing an uplifter and a two-stepper today.

VP Records has released a new track from one of my favourite dancehall artists.  Clifton Bailey III, the man known more widely and the Prophet Capleton sings on the track "Some Day" from his 2010 album, "I-ternal Fire".

Link to the video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kd4K_9WwbsI

And our own rising star Kees Dieffenthaller teams with Jamaica's R&B princess Tessanne Chin on "Loving You".

Link to the video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Roq60m4PSVU&feature=related


Monday, July 05, 2010

Music Monday: "Fly Away" by Lenny Kravitz

Because it's been that kind of day... and because Music Monday isn't over yet...


Link to the video on Youtube is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIHQnnyFXwI

Monday, June 21, 2010

Music Monday: "Rollin inna Sunny" by Nebula868 featuring Terri Lyons

Not too long ago, when people spoke about local music, they didn't always mean "soca".  In fact, I remember a lot of pop and R&B in my growing up years.  Ever so often, I'll pull out my Best of Wildfire CD and spend an afternoon grooving at home to Tony Wilson and Oliver Chapman.  And Nadie La Fond's "Wanna Make Love to You" is still as sweet today as the day that I first heard it.

But Trinidad and Tobago does indeed produce a lot of local content other than soca music.  Most might only know the name Marlon Asher, but there is a whole raft of reggae artists here with recorded music.  There's rock, pop, soul, jazz... There's also a vibrant hip-hop movement with artists the likes of Chromatics and Spotrushaz, the latter of whom has a track on the 2K Sports' NBA 2K10 soundtrack.  But there's a whole lot more music out there and today I feature a track that I ran across this weekend.

Via TriniJungleJuice.com, I give you "Rollin inna Sunny" by Nebula868 and Terri Lyons, the daughter of Austin Lyons, our own phenom Super Blue.  Their video shot in and around Port of Spain features an icon that is distinctly Trinbagonian - a beat-up multicoloured Nissan Sunny.  It's a neat little production with at least one of the artists eschewing the obligatory American accent in delivering his vocal contribution.  Even if you're not a fan of hip-hop, it's worth a quick peep to see what some of our local artists are doing.

Link to the video at the TriniJungleJuice site is http://tinyurl.com/musicmonday20100521

Monday, June 14, 2010

Music Monday: "Het Wilhelmus"

Het Wilhelmus [Wikipedia] [Youtube], the National Anthem of the Netherlands, is considered the oldest National Anthem in the World.

Het Wilhelmus is played only once at a ceremony and, if possible, it is to be the last piece of music played.  Interestingly, when receiving a foreign head of state or emissary, it is not allowed to be played if there is no member of the Dutch Royal House present, something virtually unique in the world as most countries play their own anthem and then play the anthem of the foreign relation.

True fans of Oranje will know the sound if not the words of Het Wilhelmus, and the feeling of the hair standing on the backs of their necks as the camera pans the stoic faces of the Dutch football team.  Now ranked fourth-best team in the world by FIFA, they are considered the world's best team never to have lifted a World Cup.  They remain ever though my favourite underachievers.

In their honour as they start their 2010 World Cup championship campaign on this very Music Monday with a match against Denmark, I offer Het Wilhelmus, the National Anthem of the Netherlands.

UPDATE 6:03PM: Article updated to include links to Wikipedia article and YouTube video, and embedded video changed to one that includes vocals. Thanks, Simone!

UPDATE 6:05PM: They won the game by the way

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Music Monday: "I don't want to live on the moon" cover by Paul Dateh

One of the customs on social messaging site Twitter is "#MusicMonday", where on a Monday users share some audio or video that they like or to which they're listening.  From today, I'm extending that custom to this blog.  Further, I'll post on a Sunday night, since that will allow more people to pick up the post on a Monday morning.  For this first post, I'll start with something light.

Any member of the Sesame Street generation will remember the song, "I don't want to live on the moon", written by award-winning composer, the late Jeff Moss.  It was first performed by Ernie, and subsequently by Ernie again in duet with Aaron Neville.

This cover of the tune is performed by Paul Dateh on vocals and violin with Ken Belcher accompanying on acoustic guitar.  And thanks to my sister, Sonja, for sharing the video.

We had the benefit of some really nice music back then.  Do enjoy the performance.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Do So...

A friend sent this to a group of us tonight, apparently first presented to the world by the one and only Rachel Price.  I more than share the sentiment.

I've been saying to a handful of friends since before the start of the election season that the country seems to have gone mad with dotishness and poisoned by the most unreasonable spirit of hate.

This is a blessed country. We are one of the most cosmopolitan in the world, and under normal circumstances we pay our differences little mind if any at all. Our population is comprised of talented people in every sphere of endeavour. We are rich in wealth and wit and warmth...

But something seems to have suddenly gone wrong... Lies, fights, noise, antics, greed, disrespect... No god worth worship is of this degree of confusion.

A fog has descended over the country like the thick gunk that rolls across and smothers the Beetham Highway when the mangrove and the dump are burning early on a morning. We need the God who has richly blessed our nation help is to see our way through.

Pray. Get down on your knees and plead for God's guidance and His goodness, and that He will see us past this season of madness and steer us clear of all those who would see the nation rent asunder.

Paraphrasing Numbers 6 and my God's blessing on the people of Israel,

"May the Lord bless us, and keep us;
The Lord make His face shine on us,
And be gracious to us;
The Lord lift up His countenance upon us,
And give us peace."


Sunday, April 18, 2010

In response to "...we are now worst than a Third World country..." on Facebook

All I am saying is let us look at the situation with some objectivity and not with the hysterical "de country goin' to hell in a handbasket!" approach.

Re the health sector, successive administrations have struggled with the regional health authorities for years. The thing is that you hear no complaints about the RHAs that are working. Yes, there are problems in San Fernando and Port of Spain Hospitals, and issues arise at Mount Hope from time to time. Administration is the responsibility of the RHA boards. Delivery of health care is the responsibility of the doctors and nurses, particularly some of the senior ones that either go missing after they sign in or stick around just long enough to redirect patients to their private clinics. When the Government attempted to fix the key problem - the Medical Board legislation - the current Opposition blocked them at every turn. A functional health sector requires functional medical staff, something that exists in several of our more remote health facilities, like Sangre Grande and Mayaro.

Part of Minister Mustapha Abdul-Hamid's challenge since becoming Public Utilities Minister has been to shake up and shape up both T&TEC and WASA. The Regulated Industries Commission has done great work too in holding both of these companies to account for their shit. Note though, by analysis that has been aired publicly, that both have been delivering water and electricity at less than cost on infrastructure that they could not afford to upgrade for decades. Both utilities also have to deal with the trade unions. Let us leave the impact of the trade union movement on productivity for another day, but for this small tale. A colleague called WASA one day to report a leak in her neighborhood. She was told by the customer service rep that it would be a day or two before someone could come to look at it because someone had stolen the batteries from all of the trucks. Blame Patrick for that.

The Tarouba Sports Complex Project is a mess. Talk done. Management errors abound. I await the results of further investigations.

Other than that, have you read at least the executive summary of the Uff Report? We asked for it, millions were spent on it, we agitated over whether it would be published publicly, and now, no one will read it.

Three projects were completed in time and on budget: the Waterfront Project, NAPA, and I can't remember the third right now.

The Waterfront Project, through two summits, has shown that Trinidad and Tobago can now compete on the global market as a major conference destination, like Florida and Las Vegas. For example, should RBTT decide to host their Global Investor Conferences again, they don't have to go abroad anymore. They can do it right here.

NAPA has its faults, yes, but by the ministry's public admission, it is under warranty and Shanghai Corporation is required to fix faults identified. Further, the structure is not useless, in spite of Rubidiri Victor's emotion-laced document. It was a tough read, but I read it, and managed to confirm that yes, a number of his concerns articulated in the latter part of the document are valid. However, they can be fixed, and will be fixed without additional public expenditure.

Concerning the buildings that remain unfinished or continue to be unoccupied, read the Uff Report. It's very informative and cuts through a lot of the haze in the public domain.

Crime is a social disease. National Security has been fighting the battle on the one end, and some defence attorneys have been, in my view, their main antagonists. How many times have we heard that a bandit was shot by the Police and he had pending charges for X, Y and Z?

Otherwise, we have Dr. Amery Browne and others struggling to stem the supply of new blood and to plug holes created by the dismantling of the youth camp system, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the expansion of the URP by a previous administration. You have no idea how many social programmes are at work today to try to empty the bandits' recruitment pool. This is word of mouth and I've yet to research to confirm, but young people can no longer enter the URP at age eighteen. They are instead channeled to programmes like MuST and HYPE where they learn a trade and then are apprenticed, hopefully to have them see that they can make productive use of their time and energy.

But you can't make a man's mind. Nor can the Police be everywhere at once. And with the bandit culture being glorified in part by the music we allow to be played - and don't try to stop that because the media will riot - rob and kill is the easy and attractive means to wealth and well-being for simpler minds.

I pray God every day that my family and friends don't become statistics. We have some personal responsibility too. We know what is going on and we can indeed do much to protect ourselves or at the very least minimise the likelihood of becoming a victim. Whatever happened to being our brother's keeper? As for me, I'm not going anywhere that stepping on somebody's foot can get me killed. That's not my kind of crowd in any case. And Car Search and a transmission lock in my putt-putt when I get it, to me, would be sufficient investment and deterrent there.

As for the church, I'm tired talking about the church. The Prime Minister has stood in front the Parliament and bared his soul about his own beliefs. Why it is that we only ever want to hear one side? If we want, public accounts are available and we can dig deeper to see whether any Ministry or State Corporation disbursed any funds for construction of the church going up in Guanapo. Anything else is wild speculation and old talk. No matter what the associations of the people responsible for the church, they have to account to no one as to where they got their money nor how they managed to contract Shanghai Corporation's employees to do the work for them. The only thing that concerns me is whether the Chinese firm's licence to operate in Trinidad allows them to engage in other works. If they can, then I want to hire them to do some work at my place too. I would do more than pay them a fair wage. I would pay them extra just because they're getting the job done on time.

Why is nobody talking about the Water Taxi Service? Why is nobody talking about the money that was spent on the new Coast Guard Fleet? CDAP is working. GATE is working and opening doors to people all over the country. I know people who are encouraged to stop smoking because of the anti-smoking legislation. A lot of people have stopped driving in questionable states because of the breathalyser legislation.

Let us contend with the specific issues and not operate from a point of hysteria, i.e. avoid statements like "they have taken the country backward, we are now worst than a Third World country." This is quite simply not true.

And one last thing... As a buddy so carefully articulated in another online space today, be careful while you cry and scream about the country going to hell that you don't go and replace bad with worse.

Remember. Peep over Kamla's shoulder to see who is champing at the bit behind her.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

On Water

I've been getting copies of this presentation on the global water crisis for a while now.  It seems so much more pertinent now that we here in Trinidad and Tobago have been affected in the way that we have.  Note that I've neither been able to find the source nor verify the statistics presented in the presentation, but it makes for interesting and eye-opening viewing.

The friend who distributed the presentation to a few of us again tonight also shared a link to National Geographic's dedicated "Clean Water News" page.  For more information, and verifiable information, on the global water crisis and water matters in general, it's a good place to start and an easy read.

Some interesting tidbits from the National Geographic page include:

Closer to home, Trinidad and Tobago's Water and Sewerage Authority has a page loaded with water conservation tips at http://www.wasa.gov.tt/WASA_ConservationTips_general.html and I suggest a read.  It's in bullets, broken up into general, indoor and outdoor water conservation tips, but it is very comprehensive.

There's no sense complaining about WASA or the Government or the fact that we're in this situation.  The fact is that we are all in this situation together, so let's make the best of it.  Together.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Prime Minister's Response Yesterday to Opposition Allegations of Impropriety

The Honourable Prime Minister (Church/State) Relations from Pearce Robinson on Vimeo.

I had said to associates on Twitter yesterday that I felt the inclination to write on the allegations being made about Prime Minister Patrick Manning's alleged involvement with the church being erected at Heights of Guanapo.

As a born-again believer myself, there were many things said and written that troubled me.  In particular, I was troubled by my impression that much of what was being written was in ignorance of the beliefs and practices of full gospel assemblies, and further that they appeared to ridicule believers and their practices as well.

My intention at the time was to go into depth, discussing some facts about full gospel belief and worship systems, explaining too that the full gospel assemblies are not a single monolithic organisation.  They do share though a core belief - that the sacrifice of the life of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was made for the redemption of all mankind, and in accepting that sacrifice as one's own, a person is redeemed with God and will live evermore in eternity with Him.  Doctrine then is based on the belief that the word of God is His full and complete word, and these stand to both unify the assemblies, and distinguish them from other Christian sects.

With that outlined, I'd next intended to present a brief explanation of the mores to which believers would adhere as dictated by Christ, and touching on ideas surrounding believer relationships and individual spiritual growth.

With those as basis, I'm thinking that I'd have then gone into my understanding of the allegations being presented.  I'd have then examined two main sets of scenarios - Patrick Manning's hands are dirty versus that the Prime Minister's Office had nothing to do with this situation.

This would have been a thinking-out-loud exercise and for me, I felt it necessary to try to do so because the information being presented was unclear, much unfounded and in many cases, presented just one side.  There was also the question of Opposition intent in bringing this information to the Parliament in the manner they had, and how quickly it descended in the public space to the derogatory.  I felt it necessary to turn everything over and over in my mind as well because up to yesterday, neither Prime Minister Manning (who I will say I felt must answer) nor the lady who had been described derogatorily as a "Seer Woman" had responded.  Further, no one seemed to be speaking in voice as loudly as the Opposition to present an alternate case.  I felt it necessary to examine the situation too because I have been convinced that there is a deeper relationship between the Prime Minister and the lady, described as his "spiritual advisor".  That said, I did feel that there was both the possibility of malfeasance, that there was an equal possibility that Manning's hands were clean but the lady not straight, and another equal possibility that they were both being maligned.

Yesterday though, Manning, being given leave to respond to the allegations raised, he delivered a 53-minute long and very comprehensive contribution in the House of Representatives.

Citing first the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, a passage which reads:

Whereas the People of Trinidad and Tobago -
  1. have affirmed that the Nation of Trinidad and Tobago is founded upon principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God, faith in fundamental human rights and freedoms, the position of the family in a society of free men and free institutions, the dignity of the human
    person and the equal and inalienable rights with which all members of the human family are endowed by their Creator;
he presents, with figures, the ways in which all Governments of Trinidad and Tobago have directly and via state agencies provided assistance to religious denominations.  He further goes into a discussion on the evolution of those modes of assistance to present time, citing examples of specific instances of Government assistance to religious bodies.  He winds up by discussing the specific matter raised by the Opposition recently on the Lighthouse of the Lord church.

Like the person of the Prime Minister or not, the public has clamoured for a response from him on the issue, and this is his response.  I strongly suggest that persons put aside their disdain for the man Patrick Manning and listen to the material presented.

An issue cannot be properly assessed unless all sides are considered.  The Opposition party having had their turn, the press having run with the issue in their own way, members of Parliament and government officials having responded to specific details in the matter, the Prime Minister now brings to the table an attempt to address the matter in total.  Simple principles of fairness suggest that you give the speech a hearing because it really cannot be reduced to sound bites.

[The video of Prime Minister Manning's presentation embedded above was extracted by persons unknown to me from the Parliament Channel's online feed, and is hosted at video site Vimeo.com].

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Trinidad Carnival 2010 Photos

So you all missed me last year and there was weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, especially in foreign quarters... In truth, a good few harsh words passed my way given that I missed the parade in 2009.

Hopefully though I've managed to make up for that some with my 2010 galleries.  A little over 250 pictures have been uploaded to my Facebook galleries at the following links.  The galleries are open so you can view them without logging into Facebook.  But Facebook users are encouraged to sign in, comment, and tag their friends and relations.

Do enjoy and see you on the road again in 2011.

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