Let’s not wait till these souls have all fled
Wonderful things of folks are said
When they have passed away.
Roses adorn their narrow bed
Over the sleeping clay.
Give me the roses while I live,
Trying to cheer me on.
Useless the flowers that you give
After the soul is gone.
– Give Me The Roses (Traditional)
NATURALLY, AND EXPECTEDLY, when our bards and balladeers pass on, people in their fan base (however small, however large), long lost friends and observers flow over with their praise and avowed admiration for the departed.
Not that the tribute is faulty or false; not even that it is disingenuous; but more so that it comes so late – too late; for the praised never get to hear the wonderful things their peers say of them, their work and their efforts.
Praises are heard not by the dead, Roses they cannot see.
Let us not wait till souls have fled Generous friends to be.
Phyllis Collymore is part of the memorable history of those of us who enjoyed Barbadian folk music and the kaiso singing of old; those of us who managed to get past the discrimination against women of the day who dared to lend their voices to the indigenous sound of old Barbados – other than through religion.
As such, Ms Collymore, on stage as Froggy, from as far back as the 1950s, would have been a legitimate pioneer of Barbadian women’s participation in what is today called the cultural industries.
The truth is while Froggy helped considerably to open up minds towards more acceptance of women in public entertainment, the memory of her sadly began to fade over time.
After all, when she died on Friday at the Gordon Cummins District Hospital at Rock Hall in St Thomas, Froggy was 82. But there were those years beyond the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s that we were given flashes of her ebullience, aided and abetted by her acoustic guitar, simple melody, wit, double entendre and extempo.
Her accomplishment at singing extempore on fellow performers and members of the audience was nothing short of riveting – with listeners asking for more.
The 82-year-old, who only last Crop-Over performed in the Celebration Time tent, bringing her audience to their feet, was rewarded for her “sterling contribution to the Bajan calypso art form”.
Froggy, cutting her teeth in places like Club Morgan in the 1950s, entertainingly but seriously, commented on the social issues of the day, penning Mama Had Two Dumplings In De Pot and Eat A Sow Pig that would become her signature songs.
We must give our veteran entertainers their roses while they live; engage them more before they go.
Now should the words be said!