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Monday 27 January 2020
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Happy to defend Tobago Heritage calypso monarch title

Gilbert "Happy" O'Connor performs his composition Murder in the Market which won him the 2018 Tobago Heritage calypso competition. PHOTO BY DAVID REID

DEFENDING Tobago Heritage calypso monarch, Gilbert "Happy" O'Connor's main focus is to entertain the audience at this year's competition scheduled for Friday at the Scarborough esplanade, Milford Road.

The 60-year-old said while he is confident going into the competition with his song Imagine, he told Newsday he hopes his message will be well received.

“I am always able to tell a story to the best of my ability to cause others to think. I may have a unique way in telling my story.”

Similar to last year’s composition Murder in de Market, Happy said his 2019 song will focus on the history and development of Scarborough.

Last year he sang about the old Scarborough marketplace. He said, in his song, the market acted as a community where customer service played a major role in its survival. Happy said his songs are always based on personal memories which he has turned into stories.

“My song will be on the history starting from uptown Scarborough at the Methodist church to the Rex cinema. I would highlight some of the individuals who would have been involved in the development of the capital over the years. Even though it was written before this year’s heritage festival, (themed An Authentic Educational Experience) one can find a relationship in the song to the theme.”

The second-time competitor and father of one, said he took a few hours to write his song.

He told Newsday Tobago, “I’m a town boy, I’m a star boy. I have always been interested in the social history of Scarborough. I’m interested in telling the story of the capital in song. I’m playing my part in history by doing this.”

Happy first entered the calypso arena in 1979 when he won the Tobago Calypso Monarch on four occasions and captured the Tobago Internal Self-governance Calypso Monarch title in 1979.

He attended the Scarborough Boys' Anglican School and Bishops High School before going to a teacher’s training college where he developed an interest in composing calypsoes. He has taught at several schools in Tobago for almost 30 years.

Happy moved from teaching to working in the Division of Tourism, Culture and Transportation as a cultural officer. He then started working at the Division of Community Development as a facilitator. He again moved to the administration department in the Festival Commission at the Culture department before retiring.

Happy said he never entered the Tobago Heritage calypso monarch competition while he worked at the Festivals Commission because of conflict of interest.

For him, entering the competition has never been about capturing a title but to share his talent and ability.

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