THERE will be 40 calypsonians singing for a place in the coveted Calypso Monarch finals on Saturday. One of them is Robert “Mighty Trini” Elias.
Trini has been on the Calypso Fiesta stage several times, but not for many years – he says his last appearance there was in 2005. After a car accident on March 1, 2015 he was unable to perform because he had surgery the following October.
Being a part of this year’s Calypso Fiesta is even more special for Trini because today is his birthday and he turns 76. Although he's well, he said he is not sure how many more Calypso Fiestas he’ll be able to participate in.
“God has blessed me with a good life,” he said.
Today, Trini will perform in eighth position at Skinner Park, San Fernando with his song 101 Per Cent. The song addresses the issue of the now common phrase “the one per cent” and being a member of that "one per cent" – the monied class – in TT. The song was given to him by WACK 90.1 FM owner Kenny Phillips.
Recounting how he came to sing the song, Trini said Phillips called, "telling me that he had something he wanted me to hear. He said, ‘I have a nice song here for you.’”
Elias asked, “When next you will be in town? When next you in town I go hear it.” But Phillips insisted that he come to San Fernando and hear the song.
Then Trini remembered some advice he'd once received from the Mighty Sparrow, under whom he had begun to sing professionally in 1984 with Sparrow.
Sparrow had said, “Regardless of anyone you should pass on the street or the road, of any descent, age..and they say they have a song for you – listen to it. You never know when you will get a bomb.”
So he listened to Phillips, and had only heard the opening lines before saying he liked the song. The melody and lyrics spoke to him. He kept saying throughout the face-to-face interview at Newsday’s Pembroke Street office that the song’s writer knew him. Trini said he doesn't know who the composer was, but felt he or she “must be a macco.”
He said the song’s third verse says, “People know in my father’s will he left me $100 bill,” which he said is true.
As for the message of the song, he says, “Yes, I was born of 'one per cent' descent, but I was born at 41 Murray Street, Woodbrook, so I am 100 per cent Trini.
“So that person who wrote that song had some gift of God to know about me and to know what I share and how I feel.”
Trini believes, as the first verse says, “We are all born here and we are all Mighty Trinis.”
“These are the things Trinidadians and Tobagonians must recognise. We are one country. Cosmopolitan.”