COPYRIGHT AND ECCO – THE SAGA CONTINUES

 

On Tuesday October 24th, 2017, information from Castries, St. Lucia started to circulate about a major shake-up within the administrative structure of the Eastern Caribbean Collective Organization for Music Rights.

The news, while surprising at the time, was not completely unexpected.  Over the past five years or so the local operations of ECCO and its associates here in Grenada have come into question. And more so since the Director here in Grenada has been very silent about ECCO and the former collections Agent was extremely defensive and devoid of any sense of responsibility to account for monies that were being collected in the name of Artistes to be redistributed to said Artistes.

According to an ECCO release immediately following the October 24th Board meeting, the Chairman Mr. Shayne Ross was replaced by Mr. Martin James and ECCO’s CEO Steve Etienne was sent on a 30-day leave, with immediate effect while ECCO tried to, “acquire credible information that would best inform its decisions and put modified procedures in place to improve the efficiency of the systems at ECCO.”

One can reasonably assume that part of the modifications would have to be the yet to be accounted for collections in Grenada and other OECS territories, the lack of payments to Members of ECCO, whose names and musical works ECCO uses to collect monies.

Most of those collections here in Grenada were done with Ms. Linda Straker as the collections Agent for ECCO. Promoters have been tormented, business threatened and even this author was the recipient of two lawyer letters, one on behalf of Ms. Straker (for defamation of character) and one from ECCO demanding I cease and desist from publishing anything further about ECCO.

My contention was always about the fair and equitable distribution of funds to the members of ECCO, funds that were collected from businesses and businessmen with the expectation that the ultimate beneficiaries will be the owners of the rights of the works used.

To date ECCO’s local membership remains under 50 a clear indication of the lack of effort to effectively educate the hundreds of creators of music about the necessity to have one’s music properly protected and the direct benefits of those procedures.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been collected by EECO over the past five years or so and distributions here in Grenada have amounted to almost nil.

During ECCO’s elections last year for new Directors the local membership were handed out checks of $250 each an insult not only to those who collected the checks but to those who have made the payments believing they were doing the right thing.

The Artistes and Creators themselves have to accept a great deal of the blame for allowing this corruption to fester while their works were manipulated and used to the benefit of others.

It is still puzzling the extent to which not only Grenadian Artistes but Regional Artistes continue to ignore the principles of business associated with music production and creation, but still speak of making it “big”

If there is not a mechanism here at home to properly register your work and then collect what you have earned, even if it is not a substantial amount, then it means you are not prepared for “bigness”. The fact that our music remains “local”, played to a local audience even in the Diaspora has more to do with the attitude and lack of knowledge and education of local creators.

One can remain hopeful that once the ECCO debacle is cleared up and the extent of the corruption reveled then, the creators will take a more keen interest in what essentially should be their retirement fund.

We wait to hear from St. Lucia the outcome of the ongoing investigations, which would hopefully include accounting for monies collected and payments to those who are owed.

It would be interesting to see if any of the members of ECCO, whether individually or as a group will be prepared to seek legal recourse if the results of the investigations are not satisfactory.

The figure here in Grenada of monies collected are well documented, Grenada still has representation on the Board of Directors. It is time to ask the tough questions, demand straight and honest answers and ultimately have ECCO account to those it has undertaken to represent.

This is not a Dexter Mitchell issue; this is the future of the local music industry. If ECCO fails it means copyright and intellectual property rights etc. related to music might be setback for another generation or so while our Artistes, creators and producers will have to depend on meager offerings of the festive season and other seasonal gigs.

For the Artistes it is your future, it is your work, it is your money; speak now or you will forever have to hold your peace.

 

Dexter Mitchell

 

 

 

 

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TALLPREE AND THE ROTARY CLUB OF GRENADA GIVES BACK

TALLPREE AND THE ROTARY CLUB OF GRENADA GIVES BACK

One of Grenada’s most successful entertainers and now an emerging entrepreneur Wilt “Tallpree” Cambridge has extended his reach to include philanthropic endeavors.

After hosting Uncle Tallpree’s Kids Fete and Preeday, the Cultural Ambassador and former Road March and Soca Monarch champion, made a monetary donation to the Rotary Club of Grenada. A cheque was presented to President Steven A. George on Sunday August   13th, during the annual Rotary Club Carnival Fete.

The proceeds from Tallpree’s contribution were distributed, by the Rotary Club, to the Community Library and the Boca Primary School.

On Monday October 23rd official presentations were made at the Community Library located on Lower Lucas Street, St. George’s.

During the presentations a select group of young students got to meet and interact with Tallpree, questioning him about him about his journey to stardom and what he considers his major accomplishments.

President George confirmed the commitment of the Rotary Club to continue support youth development especially through education.

Touched by the efforts of the staff and volunteers at the Community Library Tallpree has pledged to continue to provide further assistance to the Library as well as working along with the Rotary Club and their efforts to help improve the lives off the citizens of Grenada.

Having just completed the Soca on the Seas cruise Tallpree lives the island again, this time, on Tuesday 24th, October for Las Vegas where he will be one of the featured acts during the that City’s Caribfest celebrations. From Las Vegas it’s on to Washington DC as the King of Jab continues to spread the energy and fun that has become synonymous with Grenada’s brand of entertainment.

Dexter Mitchelltallpree at library

HE BOUNCED TO HIS OWN RHYTHM

HE BOUNCED TO HIS OWN RHYTHM

Every Artiste wishes, hopes and prays for that one career-defining song, the one hit for which he will be immortalized.

In the case of John Allard, know to his Calypso and Soca fans as Tangler, he had three such hits, to compliment a style that has been repeatedly described as unique.

In conversations with those who were fortunate to witness the genius of Tangler up-close, including Robert Whyte (MC of Black Roots Calypso Tent) and music producers Dr. Peter Radix and Paul Thomas, the underlying theme has been the fact that Tangler’s stage presence and his compositions set him apart from his contemporaries.

While fans are very familiar with ‘Ting Doh Work’ (Callaloo) a song that dominated the 1991 carnival season until the release of Moss International’s classic, ‘Jambalasie’ and the road march winners of 1996 and 1997 (Bouncing Low and Chala Baiti), there is also more to Tangler, creatively and otherwise.

John was a staple in the Black Roots Calypso Tent of the 80’s and 90’s  with his signature dark sun glasses and voice and antics that stood out from the others in the tent.

Robert Whyte long time MC and part of the management team of the Black Roots Calypso Tent, said on the recent passing of Tangler, “He name will always be mentioned among the greats of Calypso in Grenada. Apart from the wins, his consistency at the tent level and his outstanding stage presence will forever be remembered but never emulated.”

Tangler’s uniqueness was rooted in a cool self-confidence, a belief in his own line of thinking that was reflected in his brand of musical compositions and his delivery. He had a special gift for ‘outside of the box’ views, for telling his stories with a simplicity that belied the weight of the subject matter. A perfect example was the aforementioned, ‘Calalloo’. A witty story based on a topic that has and continues to be fodder for many conversations, through all strata of society.

There is the belief that Tangler’s ascension to constituent hit-maker was delayed due to inadequate musical arrangements.  So unique was his style that he needed an arranger who could envision the places Tangler was willing to take his music.

The arranger who was able to captivate the special intricacies of Tangler’s creativity, turned out to be an almost nondescript musician with a PhD from Howard University, who at the time undertook music more as a hobby than a means of full-time, gainful employment. Dr. Peter Radix, who was first introduced to Tangler when Blacks Roots went to record in the late 1980’s, immediately  saw something in the Calypsonian that piqued his interest and created an overwhelming desire to further record him.

Dr. Radix noted that what stood out about Tangler was, in his words, “His originality, his vocal ability, his personality, his talent, his humbleness and the desire to be different, to go against what was considered normal in calypso at the time.”

It was to be at the Dr. Peter Radix owned Great Kings of Africa Recording Studio that the immortal ‘Ting Doh Work’ and ‘Bouncing Low’ were recorded.

Other songs that were produced during that partnership included;

  • Rainbow Festival
  • Frankie
  • Return of Matilda
  • Shake that Boom Boom
  • Thread the Needle
  • Animal Love
  • Soca Blazing
  • Danger
  • One Caribbean
  • Jump Up

The1996 hit tune Bouncing Low was also significant to the Great Kings of Africa Recording Studio in that it was included on the first CD produced by the studio, moving away from vinyl records.

One of the things that stood out to Dr. Radix and others, who produced his music, was his state of preparedness. Tangler always came with his written material and in cases where it was necessary, his own musicians.

As the calypso and overall entertainment fraternity mourns his passing, we can reflect on Tangler’s contributions to calypso, soca and culture generally. His untimely death was a shock to all but we are fortunate to have his music – music as unique and captivating as John ‘Tangler’ Allard.

 

Dexter Mitchell                           

 

PREEDAY AND UNCLE TALLPREE’S KIDS FETE

August 16, 2017

Concept Events hosted its 2nd annual Uncle Tallpree’s Kids Fete on Saturday July 29th and Preeday – the celebration of Tallpree’s 20th anniversary as a Soca Artiste, on Wednesday August 09th.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the fans and patrons for supporting the Tallpree Brand and believing in what we promised to deliver in both events.

At the conclusion of both events Concept Events made donations to two outstanding local organizations, which we have identified as being critical to the Nation’s overall development.

The first donation went to the PBC Boys Choir to assist in their travel to Barbados to represent Grenada at CARIFESTA (the Regional Festival of the Arts taking place from August 17th to 27th). The monetary contribution will help offset costs related to travel and accommodations.

Secondly, a donation was made to the Rotary Club of Grenada during its annual Carnival Fete on Sunday August 13th. The monetary contribution will be specifically used to assist the Boca Government School Library working with Hands Across the Seas to deliver books.

Concept Events and the associated Uncle Tallpree and Preeday brands are on a quest to not only deliver quality, satisfying and entertaining events, but we are committed to playing a serious role in the development of the Nation’s young people.

Additionally, patrons who attended Uncle Tallpree’s Kids Fete are reminded that they can present their ticket stubs at Grenadian Optical for a free eye exam. Offers are valid until Friday September 08th.

In photos – Damani Brizan (PBC Boys Choir) and Steven George (President Rotary Club)

Dexter Mitchell

MADE IN GRENADA ENTERTAINMENT NEWS

May 26, 2017

PreeDay teaser poster

During the 2017 Carnival season two of Grenada’s most prominent and distinguished composers and performers will be celebrating major milestones.

The world-wide recognized King of Jab music Wilt ‘Tallpree’ Cambridge will be celebrating his 20th year as a Soca Artiste. Although he was well known on the dance hall circuit prior to 1997, it was in that year Tallpree first made the switch, a fateful move that has led to him being Grenada’s most commercially successful Artiste. Two years later (1999) he released Ole Woman Alone – a song that has made Tallpree a household name wherever in the world Carnival is celebrated.

For his 20th Anniversary Tallpree will be celebrating in a momentous way with his signature PreeDay being the highlight of the celebrations. On Wednesday August 09th at the Grenada National Cricket Stadium, Tallpree along with 20 of his closest Soca friends – Regionally and Internationally- will headline what is expected to be Grenada’s most anticipated and certainly most entertaining event in 2017. Additionally, on Saturday July 29th (which coincidentally is Tallpree’s birthday) the two-time road march winner will host his 2nd annual Uncle Tallpree’s Kids Fete at the Morne Rouge Playing Field in Grand Anse.

Fans outside of Grenada will not be left out of the celebration has Tallpree has already begun his ‘Summer Tour’ which has him in Atlanta this weekend (May 26th – 28th) and will cover other cities in North America and neighboring islands in the coming weeks.

Another King in his own right, in fact an 8 time Calypso Monarch of Grenada, Finley ‘Scholar’ Jeffrey is, in 2017, celebrating his 25th Anniversary as a Calypsonian.

His latest win came in 2016 and already plans are being formulated for a successful defense of his title.

Apart from the Calypso titles, Scholar has won the Groovy title, the Soca Monarch and Independence Calypso titles.  Sometimes considered controversial because of his biting political commentary and his penchant for holding those in authority accountable through his lyrics, Scholar is much more than a political commentary composer. His hits include ‘Voices’ ‘Legacy’  ‘Heroes’ and ‘Belly’, all pertinent and transcendent social commentary. ‘Hold Him’ and  ‘Man Gone’ demonstrates Scholar’s versatility and of more recent vintage, ‘Clip My Wings’, proves that even after twenty five years the ‘Teacher’ still has the ability to produce classic compositions.

Scholar and his friends in Calypso will celebrate his Silver Anniversary with a major Calypso event on Sunday July 16th. The event will befit the magnitude of Scholar’s achievements and his performance on that day will cover the full gamut of his repertoire.

These are two colossal achievements for two of Grenada’s cherished Cultural Ambassadors and in an era of ‘microwave music and fleeting social media fame’ longevity and consistency must be recognized and properly acknowledged.

Made In Grenada congratulates both stalwarts on their collective achievements and look forward to much more entertainment in 2017 and beyond.

Dexter Mitchell

Q AND A WITH PATRICK HUMPHREY (UNLUCKY) (THE 1971 & 1973 CALYPSO MONARCH OF GRENADA

Q AND A WITH PATRICK HUMPHREY (UNLUCKY)
(THE 1971 & 1973 CALYPSO MONARCH OF GRENADA)

Unlucky

How did you get involved in music and at what age?

Music and singing was embedded in my family. My Uncles and Aunts played different types of instruments, and my Mum was always singing at home.

What was the music scene like growing up, some of the bands and influences?

Music scene was limited for me. Strict parentage meant that I couldn’t go out partying until about 17/18 years old. I listened to the radio mostly. At that time most of our music came from Trinidad 610 radio. Bands: Joey Lewis, Dutchey Brothers Etc.
Calypsonians: Sparrow, Kitchener, Bryner, Lord Blakey and others.
In Grenada, were Solid Sinders, Islanders and later Rhythm Riders. Calypsonians were Melody and Papitette. It was predominantly a town affair.

When did you start singing and recording calypso?

I was told my Grandfather organised choirs in his village of St James and went around the area performing. I know my Aunt and her Husband used to perform around the island during the carnival days singing and playing a home-made portable standing Hawaiian-like guitar. My Mother used to be singing all day while doing her chores. I was always a quiet person and surprised myself and the whole family and friends when I started singing, especially Calypso. It bore a stigma at that time.
At first, I experimented with a name; I tried Lord Fortunate, and then was known as Unlucky which I eventually changed to Lucky.
It all began when in my early teens, I joined the Birch Grove Young Man’s Improvement Club and we organised a talent show held at the school. All the categories were filled: ballads, duets, country and western, etc; but there was no one singing calypso, so I volunteered to fill that category and that was the beginning of my singing career.

What was the process like for recording songs during the 1970’s?

As for recording, studios were non- existent. We had to go down to Windward Islands Broadcasting Service (WIBS) radio station in Morne Rouge. Paul Roberts radio engineer at the time would set up and record music, and play the music on the radio.
To Record properly, one had to go to Barbados or Trinidad.

Do you remember how much was the prize money when you won the crowns in 1971 and 1973?

In 1971 it was $250 by 1973 it was $500.

What was the competition like, who were your fiercest rivals?

The competition was very keenly contested with everyone pulling all the stops in a bid to come out the winner. Darkie, Lord Slim, Scaramouche, Melody, Hurricane and the late Defender just to name a few.

Who were the original members of the Rhythm Riders?

Some of the original members were, Dennis Ruffin, Martin Charles, Charlie Lead, Melvin Pierre, Alfie Aberdeen and others. As members left others filled their places. I was about the third generation member of the band.

Tell us about the popularity of the Band. How often did it perform and where are some of the places, both local and abroad that the band performed?

The popularity of the Band never waned. We were performing mostly every weekend. We remained close to each other and practiced hard.
We played all over Grenada, at Mr Hall’s Morne Rouge Beach Club, Grenada Beach Hotel, CSA centre, Birch Grove Community centre, Birchgrove Roman Catholic School; the Anglican school in Gouyave nicknamed the Banana Boat. In those days the venues were mainly schools.
In England, the reception was exceptional and we had a lot of support especially from our Grenadians fans. We played mainly in town hall venues and hotels. Places like Hammersmith Palais and Clarendon hotel. I could remember at the Chiswick Town Hall the police had to come out to control the traffic and stop the crowds from entering the venue because it was over the regulation limit.

What prompted the band to remain in England in 1973? And how was the reception there?

In the light of our popularity, our management kept extending our stay in England. As nature would dictate, before long, members fell in love, got married and living long distances away from each other making it difficult for rehearsals and getting together. Sadly, the band was amicably dissolved.

Apart from 1989 were there any attempts to re-enter the Calypso Competition?

I embarked on a course of study, which took me from college to university for three years getting a degree in Education and Environmental Studies.
I entered Calypso competitions here in the Nottinghill Carnival celebrations and won on two occasions but never got to re-enter competitions in Grenada.

What are your impressions of the present state of local music? Who impresses and what advice would give to the new crop of Artistes and Performers.

I am unable to comment on the state of our local music but I have heard of an emergence of live local bands which is very heartening to hear. I therefore think this presents a very healthy state. I especially enjoy listening to the calypso monarch competition as I love the lyrical content and the way the storytelling is put together.
With regards to advice for the new crop of artistes and performers I cannot give much practical advice as I have been very unwell for the last few years and out of the calypso scene. However, I would suggest they emanate humility regardless of their popularity.

Patrick Humphrey – aka Unlucky joins a stellar cast of Calypso stalwarts for a memorable showcase of the artform – at the Spice Basket, on Mother’s Day (Sunday May 14th, 2017 at 6pm).