Empress Aje honours Ella Andall

Allison "Empress Aje" Bernard -

Chantuelle supreme Ella Andall will be honoured with a tribute concert on September 16 at the Central Bank Auditorium. The concert, Chantuelle Vibes, is being put on by Allison “Empress Aje” Bernard in tribute to Andall, who she credits with encouraging her to sing calypso.

Bernard said the concert is her way of giving thanks to Andall for blazing the trail for her and others to sing Orisha-influenced calypso.

“She told me about her challenges and what she had to go through singing her type of music in the calypso, even bringing what we call Orisha type music in the calypso tent. She has said in many interviews that it wasn’t embraced at first, they used to say what she bringing this devil music here for. She went through some trying times to break that barrier and that really connected with me because I do similar-type music.

“That also touched me because I look at her not just as a calypsonian, but as someone who cleared the path for chantuelles and artists like myself who are also Orisha devotees and who put that type of chants in our music. She cleared the path and took licks to break that barrier for people. I’m not saying it’s fully accepted and that’s OK, but she cleared a lot of the road that we could sing it now.”

Ella Andall

Bernard said she was first introduced to Andall by her late spiritual mother, and sang backup for her, at which time Andall recommended she go into calypso.

“I didn't want to go at first, because I remember looking at Calypso Semi-finals at Skinner Park, and unfortunately I saw what happened to Denyse Plummer. I’ll never forget that, so when she telling me to go in calypso, I said, 'me, for them to pelt me with toilet paper, what if I don’t sound good?' I really didn’t want to go into calypso.”

Bernard entered and won BPTT’s Sing de Ting calypso competition in 2009, and decided to make the leap with encouragement from BPTT’s then CEO Robert Riley and Andall.

“Ella was the one I went to for advice, I would visit her home, and if I have a new song or I write a calypso, I would write for her to hear it, I would sing it, and she would tell me how she think I should sing that line, where the emphasis should be placed, etc. She was the main person who encouraged me to be in the artform today.”

Bernard said many times in Trinidad, people don’t acknowledge their community and the people who laid a foundation for them in their careers.

“There must be succession, we know no artist will reign forever, your purpose is to do your work on this earth and clearing the path for others to follow, but we must also learn to have a spirit of gratitude in TT. When you’re thinking about community building, you’re thinking collectively, you’re not going to individualise or you shouldn’t individualise, so in the same way all these people who would have contributed to our development in our country, regardless of what area, it doesn't hurt to say thanks. In the music industry we have a forum where we could say thanks by keeping a tribute show.”

Roderick "Chuck" Gordon -

The concert will feature Bernard, two-time Calypso Monarch Chuck Gordon, three-time Calypso Monarch finalist Marsha “Lady Adanna” Clifton, 2023 NWAC calypso queen Tameika Darius who placed fourth in the 2023 Calypso Monarch finals, the Lydians Singers, Chaguanas Women and Youth Group, traditional drummers, and others.

Bernard said the Lydians Singers will add a different feel to the concert, as they will replicate the call and response format used by chantuelles and Orisha devotees.

“The chantuelles were the lead vocalists in the gayelle when the bois men and women would be fighting. Chantuelle music is a call and response, one call and one answer, so to hear a body of people responding to a call, the energy is different.

“When the people of the Orisha are having thanksgiving and feasts, they say we're going in the palais tonight and the Orisha songs will be sung and everyone will be responding to the main chantuelle. The vibration is high, because everyone is in unison, the drumming, so I am trying to recreate that on stage by having the Lydians Singers be part of it.”

Bernard said she wanted people to be rejuvenated when they leave the concert, in fitting tribute to Andall.

“The opening will be very powerful, you don’t want to miss it because Ella Andall is a powerful and huge artist, she’s magnanimous in her music and in her spirit so the show must be riveting with spiritual vibes.”

The Lydians Singers -

The event will begin at 7:30 pm and last a maximum of 2.5 hours, as Bernard said she was concerned about the safety of her patrons.

Tickets are available online at Island Etickets; at Cache’s locations in Trincipty, East Gates, and Port of Spain; Marts Liquor Palace, Diego Martin; Seon’s Bar, San Fernando; and at the Central Bank Auditorium box office on the day of the event.


"Empress Aje honours Ella Andall"

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