The biggest names in Canadian calypso music came out in force to inspire a new generation of musicians to carry on the craft.
“We’re getting older and we want to pass along the culture,” said Dick Lochan, coleader of the Pass the Torch calypso arts program. “It’s great for the kids. We see them become better writers, become more confident and better public speakers.”
Lochan hosted the CD launch party for Pass the Torch 5 along with John (Jayson) Perez, the only person to win a Juno award for calypso.
The celebration, held at Scarlet Ibis Restaurant and Bar on Oct. 24, was designed to raise funds to pay for the production of a CD and bring the community together.
It’s all about spreading the culture through music, said Rouge River MPP Bas Balkissoon.
“This one is a difficult culture because it’s about the music and it’s also about the composition,” Balkissoon said. “It’s not that you can just learn to sing so you have to write the music and write the lyrics to match.”
Canadian Calypso Queen Macomere Fifi performed at the event to inspire the children, she said. Fifi taught in the Pass the Torch program when it started six years ago but has since moved on to a broader music career.
The free children’s program is held every Saturday at Berner Trail Community Centre. The kids, age 8–14, write all their own songs with guidance from Perez and Lochan.
The Pass the Torch CDs are produced by legendary calypso producer Ossie Gurley, who is best know for cowriting and producing the hit “Who Let the Dogs Out.”