Superior fought for calypso
THE late Andrew “Lord Superior” Marcano, 79, was not just a calypsonian par excellence but actively pushed several projects over the years to try to advance the art-form both nationally and globally, was the message coming out of several tributes to him yesterday. These included seeking more radio air-play for bards and producing a calypso musical in New York City (NYC).
Marcano’s passing in New York was announced on late Saturday night on Facebook by his son Moriba Marcano.
Moriba said his father was a star in NYC in the 1960s but returned to TT to help this young nation form its cultural identity. “He was a great man and a visionary of his time writing songs to help guide humanity in general and his people in specific,” Moriba said. “Sadly misunderstood and underappreciated, I studied the man like a text book and I only hope that his genius and goodwill will be more easily recognized in the afterlife. I love you, Dad.”
Marcano was hailed as “a national treasure” in a statement of condolence by the Ministry of Community Development, Culture and the Arts. “A musician, guitarist, singer, a consummate professional who was always impeccably dressed, he spent much of his life both on and off stage promoting Trinidad and Tobago culture through the calypso art form.”
Marcano’s passing was lamented as the third death of a calypsonian this month, after the deaths of Winston “Shadow” Bailey and Winston “De Fosto” Scarborough, by the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO.) A statement by TUCO PRO Steve Pascall said Marcano had been ailing for a while and hailed his work.
“‘Supie’ as he was fondly called, was one of those special bards who advocated for years, that there should be more calypso played on local radio stations to the point that he laboured for over 20 years until he was afforded a radio license from the government.” His station, Superior Radio, played calypso 24 hours per day.
“Born in the sleepy village of Rio Claro in South Trinidad in 1938 , Marcano made his debut into calypso at the age of 16 years, singing a calypso called ‘Coconut’ at the Victory Calypso Tent in Port of Spain.” In his day, he was viewed as the youngest calypsonian to perform locally. His offerings included Spread Joy, San Fernando Carnival, Saga T’ing, We Want A Day, Standardise Pan, Cultural Assassination and Put The Women On Top. “He was awarded the Hummingbird Medal (Silver) in 2015 and received his Honourary Doctor of Letters at the 2017 graduation ceremony at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad.
“He was considered to be the first calypsonian to produce a record on his own record label, the first to Perform at the Madison Square Gardens, in New York , USA, and the first to produce a full length calypso musical.” TUCO said he was a bard who was always dressed to kill.
Offering deepest condolences to Marcano’s family, TUCO said, “May the soul of the late Dr Andrew Marcano aka The Brother Superior rest in peace with our calypso ancestors. Funeral arrangements will be forthcoming as they are received by TUCO.”
Marcano’s passing was also lamented by the National Action Cultural Committee (NACC’s) Aiyegore Ome who extended sympathies to his widow Dr Janet Stanley Marcano, whose past assistance to him he lauded.
Ome hailed Marcano for helping revive extempo calypso in 1975 in a performance with fellow bards Dr Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool and Julien “Unknown” Pierre at NACC’s show in Woodbrook, Black Traditions in Art.
Ome recalled that in 1976 the NACC had given Marcano a Black Traditions in Art award, for his “magnificent attempt” at opening an all year round calypso tent, the National Calypso Theatre. “NJAC remembers that calypso tent because there were several nights when NJAC members were the only patrons in the audience,” Ome added cryptically.
Ome told a tale of how Marcano helped one shy calypsonian.
“The original Diamond, Patrick Purcell Lewis, told me when he auditioned at the Regal Calypso Tent, managed by Superior, Duke and Chalkdust, he was so terrified that he almost gave up singing. Superior took him under his wing and gave him private tuition for a number of Saturdays at Superior’s home in Dorington Gardens, Diego Martin.
“One, is the lingering situation concerning TUCO and the Calypsonian’s Convalescent Home; two, the issue of appropriate honour and support for all artistes during their lifetimes and finally, the desire of artistes for at least 50 per cent of air-play (for calypso.)”
"Superior fought for calypso"