HUNDREDS of people from all walks of life went to the RC Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain, yesterday morning to celebrate the life of calypsonian, composer and arranger Winston Scarborough, better known as The Original De Fosto Himself.
De Fosto, who died last week at 64, was buried at the St Mary’s Anglican Churchyard Cemetery in Tacarigua, near the orphanage where he was raised.
Among the mourners were National Carnival Commission chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters, who was also a pallbearer; many of the calypso fraternity, headed by president of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO) Lutalo “Bro Resistance” Masimba; a host of top local musicians; pannists led by new Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore; former culture minister Joan Yuille-Williams; former minister Dr Roodal Moonilal; and former president Anthony Carmona.
Before the formal service, several people paid tribute to De Fosto. Port of Spain city councillor Wendell Stephens said: “De Fosto was a legend and an icon, a man who loved TT. And just like De Fosto, I want to say to all calypsonians, 'Think TT and not politicians any more’.” he added.
Charles Olivier spoke of going with De Fosto to Junior “Ibo” Joseph in San Fernando to record Boom Bam for Carnival 2019.
Called upon to say a few words, Moonilal described De Fosto as a patriot and nationalist, and said his passing will most definitely create a big void in the calypso world.
“His life was one of dedication to this country. He was truly original, a lyricist, a musician and a performer. I don’t think you can find anyone else who has sung more songs than he did celebrating acccomplishments.”
Moonilal called on steelbands to pay tribute to De Fosto for Panorama 2019, before Edwin “Crazy” Ayoung, who also called De Fosto a late great icon, spoke of the amount of time he had spent in the hospital with De Fosto, taking fruit and coconut water for him and updating the general public on De Fosto’s progress on his Facebook page.
Crazy then called on Ibo to finish De Fosto’s Earthquake song for 2019 – a song he composed after the 6.9 earthquake that rocked TT in August.
Resistance noted the transformation of De Fosto from “the finest trombonist to meticulous performer.
“He was a fine composer who made songs that steelbands will play and others that salute the achievements of nationals on the international stage. These are hallmarks of greatness.
"Let us not just shed tears today, but do something that will lift up his work. Fire on the Mountain!”
The congregation applauded.
Eunice Peters sang Hold On, addressed to artistes who are still around, like Sparrow, Calypso Rose, Bomber and Funny, exhorting them, "Keep on jammin'.”
She was followed by Dane Gulston on pan, accompanying Kernal Roberts, who sang one of De Fosto’s 2008 numbers, Pan Forever More, after which Brian London sang Explainer’s We Shouldn't Treat Our Heroes So, which resonated with the congregation, who applauded roundly.
Gypsy followed, echoing that De Fosto paid that attention to people who brought TT glory, before he opted to pay tribute by singing My Way – a song made popular by Frank Sinatra in 1969. When he came to the lyrics "as tears subside," the tears flowed from a highly emotional Gypsy, who had the congregation help him with the lyrics to the end of the song.
After his performance, Gypsy turned to the casket and said: “Rest in peace, my friend...until we meet again.”
Joseph Williams then sang Gone Too Fast, and after some negotiations with the officiating priest, Fr Martin Sirju, former president Carmona praised De Fosto for refusing to walk around with a "bag of salt" on his back.
The formal part of the service then began, with De Fosto’s elder son Marvin Scarborough reading a poem he wrote about his father. He spoke of the absence of his father during his adolescence and the resentment he once bore over it.
“I loved him, but during my childhood I was hurt. I wanted to forget my father, but Trinidadians in America would not allow it, his music would not allow it, my DNA, my sister, my mother would not allow it...I had to find my father. At 33, in 2013, I called him and said: ‘De Fosto, this is your son, I’m coming home. But I’d be happy to have you help build my house,’ and he showed up and brought life, and actually helped build the house, singing songs and speaking about Trinidad. I couldn’t think about the past because I was living in the future. I saw Jesus and the Bible.
"All praises to the Most High. In that situation he had the power to clean it up.”
Scarborough said that year he forgave his father unconditionally.
Of De Fosto as composer and musician, Scarborough said: “He was born for music. His DNA can’t deny that he was the music.”
Scarborough then called on his younger brother Gabriel for the eulogy, which traced their father’s childhood from the time he spent at the children’s home in Tacarigua to being a prolific trombonist in Mano Marcellin's band, then to composing music for every occasion, for other calypsonians and for the pan.
The elder Scarborough son said: “He came from nothing and made music his grounding force. He was never an insecure man, and he had a huge ego. He also championed the cause for convalescent calypsonians and because of his love for country he wanted unity, but some officials resisted his pleas for change.”
Gabriel ended his eulogy in tears.