THAT trademark “Ayoooooooo” is one that no one can miss, with a discography that includes songs like Doh Rock It So, Melosian Rhapsody and Say Say. Timothy “Baron” Watkins has given calypso, soca, soca parang, gospel and the music industry, in its entirety, some of its most memorable compositions.
This year, the Baron is celebrating his 50th year as a performer and entertainer.
To celebrate the milestone, he will host Baron’s Golden Milestone with some of his friends at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s on November 13 from 5-7.30 pm. The show will feature artistes like Gypsy, Sugar Aloes, Swappi, Rondell Donowa and Devon Seale.
His history also tells part of the wider story of TT’s musical development.
The Baron was born Timothy Watkins to Caroline and Fitzgerald Watkins on March 14, 1947. He grew up in Bamboo Village, La Romaine, south Trinidad, his biography said.
He began performing in February 1971 for that year’s Carnival.
The sobriquet Baron was given to him by the late Garfield “Lord Shorty” Blackman who also wrote Baron’s two hits that same year called Severe Licking and Too Late, his biography said.
Between the years 1972-1983, which his bio describes as the lost years, it said after a successful debut it was believed that Baron had gone into exile for 13 years but it added that that was not so..
He had recordings from 1976 to 1983 and “by observing the above-mentioned discography one can see that Baron never really stayed away from calypso and Carnival… he was always there… he probably did not receive much support from people in the relevant places i.e. radio and media as to highlight his career,” it said.
It added that in late 1983 he again teamed up with late, legendary calypso composer, Winsford “Joker” Devine who wrote his releases for the 1984 Carnival season.
His biography said that people often describe these as his “come back hits”, The Jammer and Feeling It. “These two songs proved to be very popular with partygoers and panmen…,” it added.
Over the years, he has had many hits and achievements among them receiving the Hummingbird Medal gold in 2016.
His manager and wife, Sherma Orr-Watkins said she was responsible for coming up with the idea to host the concert.
“When I realise is 50 years, I say, ‘Nah man. You have to do something. You can’t just do 50 just like that and nothing is happening,’” Orr-Watkins said.
It was initially scheduled to be held in July but was postponed because of the covid19 pandemic.
“As the country started reopening, I said right we can do it for November.”
And she also decided to have a year-long celebration since, “you don’t get 50 often as a performer.”
Everyone on the cast is going to be performing a Baron song, she added. Orr-Watkins is the show’s producer.
There will be approximately 16 performers at the show.
For Baron, his first time performing was an “experience.”
“I born and grow in a church so it was like hell for me to adjust.
“I used to have to run away from church and school to go and perform. I was the only child for my parents and they were spiritual people. So for me to go and do a show, I had to run away,” he said.
Even when he switched from church to Carnival stage, he had no issues performing in front of a crowd because he grew up singing and performing in the church.
“Seeing a crowd was like nothing for me.”
He first performed at Sparrow’s tent at Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union (SWWTU) hall and there he met Lord Shorty.
Although the musical landscape would have changed significantly over the years, there have been no major changes for Baron as he always enjoyed performing.
“I love music and I love singing. So anywhere they say sing, I ready to go,” he said.
One might think – having given thousands of performances over the years – that there’d be some that stand out but for the Baron every moment performing is special.
And the Baron has no intention of slowing down.
In fact, he will release a new single with Azaryah on the Tilt riddim next week and is also scheduled to release a gospel single by year’s end.
Orr-Watkins jokingly said Baron had 50 years performing and was looking forward to 70 more but that he was looking at performing for another 20 years.
The show will be at Queen’s Hall which falls within the TT Safe Zone initiative and will hold 50 per cent of its normal capacity.
“He will be starting the programme with one of the gospels,” Orr-Watkins said.
“So far we getting calls and things looking positive. We want to thank everybody…It is amazing,” she added.