Parang may not be as popular in Tobago as it is in Trinidad but that did not stop a group of young musicians from embracing the genre and creating the island’s own professional parang band.
El Corazon De Parang, formed back in 2013, currently has eight members - three women and four men: Nikiesha Augustine-Phillips, Ashel Alexander, and Stephany James, are lead vocalists, De Sean Beckles plays the cuatro and maracas, Johnaton Ellis is a cuatro player, Adrian Mark in on the toc toc, Kalvin Joseph on box bass and maracas, while Drew Dyer, who manages the group, also plays the box bass, cuatro and maracas.
Dyer, a professional musician, said the group was formed after being invited to a workshop hosted by a music
instructor, Miss Mcintyre, at Fairfield Complex, Bacolet in 2013. “After the workshop, we were selected to form a parang team to perform all around Tobago. We went from houses to events performing until people began to request us for their events, as we gave outstanding performances wherever we went,” Dyer said in an interview last Thursday. After Miss Mcintyre left the island in 2013, the group of paranderos decided to continue paranging, and so El Corazon De Parang was born.
The group has played, and is available top pay at venues throughout Tobago – nightclubs, malls, hotels and churches.
“The vision of the band is to let people in Tobago know there is a professional Tobago parang band so there is no need to go Trinidad to book a band to come and sing parang. We are right here, and we could give that entertainment at a reasonable cost,” Dyer said.
He said parang in Tobago may not be as recognised as it is in Trinidad but that there were people on the island who love parang.
“When people hear about us, they say they are shocked this young group is pushing parang in Tobago. To me, it could bring in a large audience for hotels and different places around Christmas time,” he said.
“The sad thing is that parang is only accepted during the Christmas season, especially in Tobago, in the months of November to December. After that it’s Carnival. If we get the opportunity to do it right throughout the year in some way, we will,” he said.
With discussions underway to have parang workshop to get more young people involved, Dyer said it was also a hope of El Corazon to “travel all around Trinidad to show what this Tobago parang group could do.”