Tammico 'SpiceY' Moore: 'Love calypso whole year'
Times are getting harder and people often have to deal with irrational and ignorant individuals. And while you may feel the urge to use violence or “tell them something,” the better course is to pray.
That is the advice of calypsonian Tammico “SpiceY” Moore in her 2023 calypso and newest release, Just Pray. It starts:
Cost of living getting harder
And it could make you ah sinner
To live life today is real pressure,
You could make ah jail if yuh don’t know de father (is too much)
De crime rate done high, politicians too lie
Dem children don’t hear, dey parents don’t care
And lawwwd when is time for the grocery
De kinda things ah is want to say, oh Lord have mercy!
Pray, yuh ha to pray, pray not to sin today.
Moore told WMN the song was born out of a social media post by a woman named Lisa, who was in a grocery complaining about food prices.
“She said, ‘Heads go have to roll and blood go have to splatter. Look at the price of flour! People can’t even afford Ping Pong.’ Lisa went on and on, and she was real violent in her expressions, because the cost of living is so high.
“I was sympathising with Lisa, because I feel the same way too.
"But then. I am a calypsonian. so I could express that in a song. I could talk for Lisa. So I do this song for Lisa and people like Lisa who feeling the strain of the cost of living.
“You is have to pray. That type of stress could make you sin. It’s better you pray.”
Composed by Moore and produced by Dread Wizard Productions, the song also highlights the topic of bad customer service in many food and retail outlets in TT.
She said people are already stressed about having to spend the little money they have, but the attitudes and “sour face” of the employees at these outlets made it worse.
“Is my money spending and paying your salary. Appreciate that!
"But they don’t see that, and I don’t think we in TT see customer service as important as how Americans see it.”
Moore released the song on March 2, deliberately doing so after the Carnival season. She said when Carnival resumed this year, she was supposed to perform Just Pray at Kaiso House. But the new management made changes with which she did not agree so she left. She entered the Calypso Monarch competition with the song, but did not record it.
“It was the first time in 30 years I wasn’t in a calypso tent. I was studying, ‘What yuh does do when yuh not in a calypso tent for the Carnival season?’ Then I thought, if calypso is ours, why we need a season?
“I believe that kaiso is not supposed to be a seasonal thing. We living in TT, the land of steelpan and calypso, so why we always like to give we thing part-time loving? I have to love calypso whole year!
“So I decided I going hard with the song after the Carnival season. The song is a good song. People have to hear the song.
"I want Lisa to hear that song.”
Moore has been composing and performing professionally for about 30 years, and said performing is her life.
She started while doing A-Levels at what was Pleasantville Senior Secondary School in 1993.
She recalled the late principal, Rawle Aimey, asked if she had any talents, and she replied that she could sing. He asked if she could enter the calypso category in the Music Festival, which was taking place the next day, and she agreed. That night she wrote a song, competed the next day, and received a certificate of excellence. She has never stopped.
The mother of two said both her parents and grandparents were fans of calypso and would listen to it all the time, which was why she grew up loving it as well.
“It was always something that I was going to do, but Mr Aimey was the man to point me in the right direction.”
After the Music Festival, she joined the Kaiso Showcase calypso tent in San Fernando. And after A-Levels, she taught principles of business, art and social studies at the Chaguanas Prestige Secondary School.
She said she started working on a cruise ship singing Caribbean music in 2000, which she did for 12 years, but she would return to TT for the Carnival season and continued singing at the calypso tent until 2003.
In 2004, she sang a “party song,” Leggo, written by Franz “Delamo” Lambkin, but the tent’s management did not want it. Delamo suggested she audition for Kaiso House in Port of Spain, where she met calypsonian Sharlan Bailey, son of the late Winston “Mighty Shadow” Bailey, and they have been together ever since.
“I went in doing a party song. I was wining, I was real good at it – people used to stay to see me wine.
"It was nice, as a girl coming from south, to get in to sing in the tent in town. I did that for two years, but that was not where I saw my career going.”
In 2006, she auditioned with the song Tackle, but the manager at the time wanted another party song from her.
“I said, ‘You can’t tell me when to wine. I will wine when I want to wine.’
"And I carried my song somewhere else and mash up. I went Klassic Ruso and stayed there until 2013.”
In 2014, she returned to Kaiso House and stayed there until last year. She said she was not happy with the direction of the changes being made to the tent’s show in 2023, nor the way they were happening. She found it disrespectful, so she stood up for herself and left.
“Change must happen. I agree that we need to push more youths in it (calypso tents), but you can’t just put youth without experience and expect the youths to lead the elders. You have to put experience there with the youth. Be subtle, be respectful.
“Remember, this was a house everyone was living in, and somebody just come in one day and say, ‘I don’t want that chair there, yuh know. I don’t like that.’ But that’s where I sleeping! Come on.”
She said everything calypsonians did was supposed to preserve calypso, and turning the tent into Best Village, as she saw it, was not a good idea. She thought it was better to stay out of it and out of trouble.
And that was fine with Moore, because she has plans.
The first is a concert with herself, Bailey and Selvon “Mistah Shak” Noel, called All Dat in Kaiso, scheduled for June 5. She said it was the first of three shows and they were leading up to “something bigger” for next year.
At the shows, there will be merchandise and some of her artwork for sale. Her art includes acrylic and watercolour paintings as well as pencil, charcoal and pastel drawings of landscapes and abstract work.
“It’s something that I do every so often in my down time, but during the pandemic, because I didn’t have nothing else to do, I kind of resorted to doing that.”
But she usually does not have much down time because of her love of academics.
In 2017 she got a bachelor's degree in performing arts with a specialisation in music from UTT, her master in arts and carnival studies from UTT in 2018, and she plans to start working on her PhD in philosophy soon.
In 2019, she got a three-year contract with the Ministry of Education as a music instructor in primary schools. When the contract ended, she filled her time with caring for her 13-year-old daughter, painted, and wrote music, some of which she is ready to share.
Moore intends to release her next single, Wrong War, which she sang in 2020 but did not record, at the end of April. Her next step is to release a full, 12-song album, Kaiso And Me, in August. Some of the songs are new and others are songs she has performed but never recorded. It will be her second album, the first being In My Flavour, in 2009.
Asked why she thought so few calypsonians released albums any more, she said, “There is only one thing for a calypsonian – the Monarch prize – and that happens within a season. If all your focus as a calypsonian is the monarch prize, then when the 40 names (for the semi-finals) come out and your name not there, your season done.
“But when your focus is not on the crown, then you know kaiso is for whole year and you don’t need a reason (for the music).”
She said other than the monarch prize, there are few ways for calypsonians to make money, and albums were expensive to produce. In addition, she said, after a musician has put out about $9,000 to produce one song, few radio stations actually play the songs.
“So you could spend all this money and still ain’t get a chance for your song to play.
"And that’s where all the problems start. Because no government ever see it fit to have 50 per cent local airplay on the radio stations, to give our culture the respect it deserves.”
"Tammico ‘SpiceY’ Moore: ‘Love calypso whole year’"