EDITORIAL: Sparrow deserves it
FROM FAR AFIELD we join in saluting the Mighty Sparrow – Slinger Francisco – on the announcement that he will be bestowed his country’s highest award – the Order Of Trinidad And Tobago. It is an honour truly deserved.
Normally, whom a country rewards for their contributions would be a purely internal matter, but in the case of Sparrow it captures the interest and appreciation of a public across the region.
Sparrow has not only been a cultural icon in his native twin-island homeland for more than half a century but he has touched lives across the Caribbean with his calypsos. His music has been poetry in motion.
Sparrow (also known as the Birdie) captivated the imagination of Caribbean people from the time he burst onto the scene in 1956 with his hit Jean And Dinah and the interest in and relevance in his music even to this day has not subsided. That he is held dear by many people across the region was clearly demonstrated by the interest shown in his well-being last year following a bout of serious illness in New York, United States, his residence in recent years.
We must applaud the decision of Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to recognise the contribution of this giant in the creative arts. The decision to look after his medical bills is an equally important gesture on the part of the Trinidad and Tobago government. Sparrow’s country can never truly compensate him for what he has done for it.
But he has been a cultural ambassador not just for Trinidad and Tobago but for the entire region. His regional roots are exemplified not only in his being born in Grenada and making his home in Trinidad and Tobago but in his significant connection with almost every state in the Caribbean. His influence on other entertainers across the region – from calypsonians to balladeers – is unmistakable.
The award to Sparrow should forever silence those who have dismissed him as lewd and deserving of little respect, and those who laughed at him and mocked him in the early days. For many, his mastery of satire, wit, double entendre and biting sarcasm in his songs and ditties over the years reflected the history and culture of the society in song. His songs made us laugh and sing along.
Sparrow has been given many accolades before while his vast body of work has been reviewed, critiqued and studied by many over the years. This particularly award is truly significant. It is a meritorious tribute befitting someone whose contribution has had to overcome many hurdles. It shows the social progress Trinidad and Tobago has made as a country.
Sparrow is not called the Calypso King Of The World without good reason. He is, indeed, a legend in his time.