1974 was a high point of Trinbagonian creative brilliance. It was the year the visionary cohort of the Independence generation took the gifts of the previous Golden Age generation and created magic. However, that same year our leaders spiritually turned their back on the Golden Age, physically rebuked the innovative class of the Independence generation, and begin the destruction of visionary Trinidad. 1974 is the moment we need to exorcise to reclaim our Destiny.

shorty-endless-vibIn 1974, Lord Shorty released the first Soca song- the musical thesis ‘Endless Vibrations’. Although he’d written ‘Indrani’ the year before, it’s with ‘Endless Vibrations’ that the full measure of the ‘Sokah’ experiment blossoms. In that same year Shadow released ‘Bassman’- evidence that Soca was born from simultaneous experiments being conducted by geniuses like Shorty, Shadow, Maestro, Eddy Grant, Andre Tanker, Lancelot Layne, and roots musicians- all experimenting with Trinabgo sound.

shadow-bassmanThe fate of ‘Bassman’ illuminates the reason for our national decline. According to most witnesses Shadow won Dimanche Gras that year- comprehensively dethroning Sparrow. This was in keeping with the organic generational trend of succession in Kaiso- every 10 years a younger voice emerged innovating, taking Calypso further. Attila begat Lion begat Spoiler begat Kitch begat Sparrow… However in 1974 a new breed of ‘culture-judge’ intervened- giving the prize to Sparrow, thwarting Inheritance.

This meant the experiments represented by Shadow- which slowed and stripped down the music, moved it further into the dancehall, foregrounding bass and drums- would have to wait 20 years to mainstream with the Kiskadee Karavan! In the breach left by Shadow in 1974 Reggae emerged in Jamaica- using Shadow’s same sonic signature and permutations of Golden Age calypso- to claim pole position globally as the new star of the Caribbean…

This is what happens when you abort movements whose time has come. You stagnate culture. If Shadow had been crowned, our cultural future would’ve been different: the younger lions would’ve been unleashed, the ‘rootsier’ experiments in the underground like Rapso would have emerged… Instead Kitch and Sparrow reigned 10 years past due date- geniuses though they remained… Calypso and Dimanche Gras were destroyed by the culture-judges…

peter and hummnigbird

Peter Minshall and the costume Hummingbird played by Sherry-Ann Guy

In 1974, another emerged who’d be blocked by the ‘culture-judges’- eventually crippling Mas design… In 1974 Peter Minshall created the first ‘dancing mobile’ costume of the new age of Mas- ‘Hummingbird’. The costume allowed its wearer total mobility. The magic was that the costume’s design and engineering were completely based on the Golden Age traditional mas- the Bat. Minshall would go on using this template as his engineering basis to create genius costumes like ‘Callaloo’, ‘Man-Crab’, and ‘Tan Tan and Saga Boy’- taking Mas to 3 Olympic opening ceremonies and one Emmy…

In 1974 Geoffrey Holder debuted ‘The Wiz’ on Broadway- winning 2 Tony Awards for Best Director and Best Costumes– bringing Trini-Carnival and creole sensibility to Broadway.

bim-soundtrackMeanwhile across the ocean Belmont-boy Horace Ove became the first Black feature-film director in Britain with ‘Pressure’ which revealed the pressures of racist British society on ethnic minorities. Back home the ‘cameraman’ of ‘Shaft’- Hugh Robertson- directed T&T’s finest feature film- ‘Bim’ whilst setting up Sharc- a local film studio. Simultaneously Andre Tanker, Andrew Beddoe, Mungal Patasar and folk musicians finished Bim’s soundtrack- one of the greatest albums in Caribbean history, an evolutionary leap in T&T and global fusion music.

In 1974 CLR James’s attempted to sustain the pan-African movement with the 6th Pan-African Congress in Tanzania- 29 years after the 5th Congress which unleashed the Independence and anti-Colonial movements in Africa. Trinidadian George Padmore had been a founder. The 6th Congress marked the last Congress with global impact and T&T stewardship…

Some context: in 1974 CARICOM was established- 12 years after the collapse of Federation. CARICOM represents the new civil servant petty political ambitions of our ruling and comfortable class- as opposed to the more poetic and visionary Caribbean Dream represented by Federation. Federation embodied the Golden Age understanding of the Caribbean ancestral birthright of ‘Freedom without limits’- societies based upon Joy and Creativity. CARICOM reflects a type of unimaginative bureaucratic surrender that typifies the modern strangling of Caribbean genius…

We must understand 1974. It confirms our decline! We should’ve built on the innovations and global gains of the class of 74. In 2014- 40 years and 2 generations later- we need to ruthlessly exorcise the demons that sabotaged our Light and destroyed that triumphant Trinbago Spirit!!!

It takes 2 generations for collapse or rebirth to consolidate societally. Let’s choose Rebirth.

Posted on January 26, 2014, in President's Blog and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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