Tears for Tassa
ONE of Barbados’ most prominent entertainers has gone silent.
Perennial semi-finalist and two-time finalist in the Pic-O-De-Crop calypso competition, Carolyn Tassa Forde, died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital late Wednesday night, after being admitted last week Friday for an undisclosed illness.
Her All Stars Calypso Tent mates and the rest of the entertainment fraternity have been plunged into mourning. Condolences and tributes have been flooding Facebook and the other social media.
All Stars manager Eleanor Rice said she last spoke to Tassa, with whom she had a close relationship, during a hospital visit on Monday.
Rice said Tassa was alert, and laughing and talking with visitors.
“She was one of the people you could rely on to be a comforter to somebody who had a problem. She was just one of those kinds of person. She can’t be replaced, and she will be sorely missed,” Rice said, adding that everyone she had spoken to so far was saddened and in tears.
Vincent Simmons, who was part of the management team in the House Of Soca calypso tent when Tassa was a member, also spoke of the loss to the fraternity. He said their two families were close, and that Tassa was like his little sister Deborah Hinds (nee Simmons), with whom Tassa shared a family photo dating back to when the two of them were about three years old.
Simmons said Wednesday brought a mixed bag for the two childhood friends. Deborah welcomed the birth of her first grandchild. Tassa was called home.
“This morning I just heard Tassa’s music playing all de time and I said, ‘Something like it wrong with Tassa’, and that like prepared me for what I then heard . . . . It was a great loss.
“. . . . We have been having a very lean time recently, we the former members of House Of Soca, because within recent times we’ve lost Anderson Griffith, Jermaine Forrester . . . . Smokey was with us and he had his problems too. And finally it’s somebody closer to me now like a li’l sister,” Simmons stated.
He said Tassa persisted with commentary and did not get carried away and turn to jump and wave.
“She still tried diligently to sing something that you would have to think about and ponder on, rather than the cheap fast-food thing that a lot of people went for.
Art form now poorer
“Every year she came, and despite some years when she had serious disappointments, it never turned her off. And that is one of the hallmarks that I would give to her,” he said, adding that the art form would be the poorer without her because there are not a lot of women.
President of the Barbados Association of Tent Managers, Sinclair Gittens, said the news of Tassa’s passing was “shocking”.
“I think that we have just lost one of our top female calypsonians,” he said on Starcom Network.
Even before Tassa entered the calypso arena, she was a contestant in the Richard Stoute Teen Talent Competition during the early years. Stoute remembers her singing gospel with her partner Richmond Reid.
Reid would later perform at a fifth anniversary celebration for her while she was in the Kingdom Of The Super Gladiators.
“She was quite passionate about her music, you know. I enjoyed talking to her and seeing her perform, she’d give it her best shot. It’s a pity that she’s gone so soon,” he said.
Stoute said he last saw Tassa at
last month’s Barbados Music Awards, and she was “spritely” and her old “humorous self”.
“It just goes to show how life can be. That’s why we have to be good to each other every day, because every day could be your last one. These things are loud awakenings for us to that we are just passing through,” Stoute added.
Tassa’s colleagues at FirstCaribbean were also mourning the sudden loss. Director of corporate communications Debra King said the staff in the regulatory affairs department was “devastated” at the news and a counsellor was called in.
“Everyone at FirstCaribbean is deeply saddened at Carolyn’s passing – and that goes for all her colleagues across the region and here in Barbados – particularly at head office where she was stationed.
“Carolyn was an extraordinary person – talented, diligent in her duties, and above all a bubbly, friendly personality who was known and loved by everyone here.
“We were also extremely proud of her achievements outside of work.
She was a calypsonian par excellence, and every year we cheered her on in the Pic-O-De-Crop competition, and her making the semis or finals was an occasion for all of us to celebrate.
“We send our sincerest condolences to her family, particularly her son Chad, of whom she often spoke,” King stated.