Old School vs New School calypso, an online hit

Ta’zyah O’Connor, the brainchild of Old School vs New School, a fundraising  virtual concert held on August 26.  - Photo courtesy Ta’zyah O’Connor
Ta’zyah O’Connor, the brainchild of Old School vs New School, a fundraising virtual concert held on August 26. - Photo courtesy Ta’zyah O’Connor

The covid19 pandemic has hit the music industry hard, but some artistes in TT are fighting back to ensure the legacy of local musicians continues for generations to come.

Since the pandemic started last year, WACK (We are culture crazy) launched fundraising campaigns with a series of virtual events.

From the comforts of their homes, listeners/viewers were treated to live, combined with pre-recorded entertainment from an array of artistes and different genres of music.

WACK, owned by Kenny Phillips, is a broadcasting and media production company based in San Fernando.

On August 26, at the company’s 198th show, titled Old School vs New School, listeners/viewers were treated to musical banter between seasoned local artistes and younger ones.

The "calypso show" was the brainchild of Ta’zyah O’Connor, 19, son of the 2012 Calypso Monarch, Duane O’Connor.

"Old School versus New School was not a competition. It showcased the talents of the new and upcoming artistes and ones from the older generation. We are keeping the art form alive and people loved the show," the form six student said.

"It was an opportunity for the younger singers to feed off and be inspired by the veterans. Calypso art form is in good hands."

O’Connor attends Upper Level Education Institute in Chaguanas and lives at Cocorite in St James.

He is also a lead vocalist in the music band STEEM.

"I was raised in the art form. I have been surrounded by it my entire life," O’Connor told Newsday.

Asked why he decided to have the show, he responded: "I can sing, have the ability to put on shows, so why I say not do it? I cannot have a talent and waste it. Once I have an idea, I can call Kenny and he always supports it. He promotes youths in art form a lot."

The versatile teen said he has a love of calypso flowing through his veins like his father.

O’Connor led the cast of the "new school" which included Naomi Sinnette, A'janae King Fraser, and seven-year-old Zachary Ransome, the youngest performer.

Zachary Ransome performs at the virtual concert, Old School vs New School. - Photo courtesy Ta’zyah O’Connor

O’Connor performed the Latin hit Suavemente and Karene Asche's Uncle Jack. He also performed Not in Here, his father's song that saw him to the National Calypso finals.

He also hosted the show, which was live streamed on WACK’s digital platforms.

Calypsonian Alana Sinnette performed her song Stitches and the late Singing Sandra’s hit Voices From the Ghetto.

Sinnette’s niece, Naomi, sang Ancient Rhythms, also from Singing Sandra.

A'janae King Fraser, a National Junior Monarch finalist and secondary school student sang Tempted and Tried.

The song is about how she has been tempted to switch to soca, adding that her love for calypso would never die.

Zachary paid tribute to Bill "Trinidad Bill" Trotman’s putting his spin to the popular song Back to School.

"Old vs new was the finale of a series I had months before. People were saying we (performers) were looking and sounding good," O’Connor said.

O’Connor, who spoke on behalf of the young performers at the show, laughed at getting some picong as a young artiste, from the public.

He said: "They said we had nothing on the old people (meaning they cannot compete with the veterans). They say we were not ready for the older adults. I said to myself, why not bring the older adults to join us."

Veteran Johnny King was part of the old school.

Veteran singer Johnny King performs at the virtual concert, Old School vs New School, on August 26. - Photo courtesy Ta’zyah O’Connor

He thanked the organisers for bringing the old and the young together. He said he was happy to see the youngsters' level of interest in the calypso art form.

King performed his megahits Wet me Down and Nature's Plan.

Another well-known calypsonian Eunice Peters performed several songs, including Culture don't close Down, Call meh Name and Bob Marley's No Woman No Cry.

Up to last Thursday, the show raised $6,257 of its $15,000 goal on the fundraising site, fundmetnt.com.

Phillips, WACK CEO and founder, told Newsday the virtual series started when the pandemic hit last year.

He re-purposed his conference room to facilitate the shows, saying he "had to do something."

As WACK would have done for the past few years, the station paid tribute to Leroy "Black Stalin" Calliste. The musical genius turns 80 on September 24.

The next day, the show continued with the police band in concert.

"We do the concert for free and asked that if people enjoyed them that they contribute. They can contribute any amount, and some people give $5."


"Old School vs New School calypso, an online hit"

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