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WE SAY SO: Giving our fellow man a hand

Ricky Jordan

WE SAY SO: Giving our fellow man a hand

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When I see the examples of misfortune occurring among members of the entertainment fraternity, I wonder: is it really a fraternity?
How could it be when nearly each time an entertainer becomes ill or dies, his or her medical and other expenses become the responsibility of family or a few faithful friends?
While I have seen examples of the fraternity banding together in recent years – such as after the misfortune of Romeo’s house fire and when health challenges faced musicians George Jones and Smokey Burke, these outpourings of togetherness remain in the minority.
Or, in the case of death, it could depend on how popular an entertainer may have been in his lifetime; for I too have been left dumbfounded upon being informed that X, Y or Z was in the hospital or had passed away, either because I did not know the person or was unaware that the person had spent some time in the entertainment arena years ago. It happens.
But my beef today regards the almost total rejection of two entertainers of fairly recent vintage: calypsonian Malik and reggae artiste Irvine Fat Man Weekes, who both seem to represent the adage “out of sight out of mind”.
These men have been off the stage for some time – Malik certainly in the last three years of Crop Over, and Fat Man even longer from the reggae/dancehall stage.
The excuse of fading popularity does not apply to Malik, for he has over the seasons been one of the most loved calypsonians of Crop Over, from 1985 when he paid tribute to the island’s first female jockey Sonia Perkins to 2006 when he rendered, with the ultimate in phrasing dexterity, the hilarious Everybody Fah Cup which took him to the Pic-O-De-Crop finals. Actually, much of the latter song proved prophetic after the 2007 Cricket World Cup unfolded.
Malik, who had long faced and overcome drug addiction, became involved in an accident early last year, and has since been walking with two metal aids.
I’m aware that several calypsonians sought to raise funds for him via a concert at the Israel Lovell Foundation last June, but while this carried much goodwill and some donations, it could not have been enough to support a man who cannot now walk unaided and has other health issues.
Ideally, the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) should be in a position to assist in such matters but, in reality, the NCF has to meet its own day-to-day expenses and really does not exist as a foundation in the true sense of the word; instead of funding culturally-related things, the NCF is funded by the taxpayers.
Therefore, the entertainers themselves should heed the call made by Richard Stoute and others long ago to pool together some money in a bank or credit union account and add to it at least once yearly; so that by the time any unfortunate eventuality occurs, support would already be available. Furthermore, its access would have to require at least two signatures in order to avoid dishonesty or the appearance of such.
Weekes, meanwhile, is a much younger entertainer who actually won the Teen Talent title back in 1984. At the time, dub was not really “the force” in Barbados, but the infectious chanting of Fat Man drove the crowds wild and took him to the competition’s winner’s row.
Since then, Weekes’ biggest act was as part of the trio under the billing of 1 000 Pounds Of Blubber featuring himself, the Mighty Whitey, who has lost one leg to diabetes, and the inimitable Biggie Irie.
Let’s not wait until other entertainers face serious health challenges or pass on, and then be vying to see which of us can give the best tribute at a time when it would no longer matter to the artiste. Now is the time to start putting aside funds for that rainy day which can fall on any one of us.
Grammys gone recession
The recent news that the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which stages the annual Grammy Awards, has reduced even further the categories in R&B and hip hop is noteworthy.
Several music industry veterans in the United States have promised to “diversify” the Grammy Awards show; yet their actions seem quite contrary as they continue to cut from an area that most appeals to the “now” generation of artistes and fans, and clearly is the basis of the music of the future.
How could an organization, now celebrating over a half-century of staging the Grammys, be seriously catering to its practitioners, including young R&B and hip hop artists like Rihanna and Ne-yo, when it has now made more than 30 modifications to the awards?
One modification will be the elimination of gender distinctions in the R&B categories, and the merging of Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Performance for a Duo or Group into one category. Consolidating the male and female R&B awards chops in half the number of R&B awards to be presented in 2012 and puts some artistes at a distinct disadvantage.
It is foolishness and, in fact, some artistes’ reaction on Twitter to these cuts cannot be published in a family newspaper.
It also means the goalpost has now been moved for Rihanna, and she may have to come twice as good to beat the likes of Eminem, Chris Brown, Justin Timberlake and Drake. So far, she is virtually at the top among female artists in North America and Europe, and her work is becoming the yardstick by which acts like Katy Perry measure themselves.
It’s now left to be seen whether the only girl in the world can truly run this town.