Stacy Sobers respects the tribe

Singer Stacey Sobers said it was people like calypsonians Karen Eccles and Singing Sandra who nurtured, taught, pushed, drilled and guided her in her music career. - Photo courtesy Stacey Sobers
Singer Stacey Sobers said it was people like calypsonians Karen Eccles and Singing Sandra who nurtured, taught, pushed, drilled and guided her in her music career. - Photo courtesy Stacey Sobers

Having had the support of so many people throughout her 30-year career, singer Stacey Sobers felt motivated to express her appreciation to those who helped and supported her along the way in her 2024 calypso Respect The Tribe.

After performing 12th, at Dimanche Gras at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain last Sunday, Sobers placed sixth in the National Calypso Monarch competition.

“It’s awesome getting on that Skinner Park (semi-finals) stage and it’s always significant to get to the finals. I feel a sense of accomplishment in that the work I set out to do has been done.

“Although for me these days it’s not about competition but furthering and bettering myself, it’s good to know you have one of the top ten songs for the season.”

She added that she watched a few of the competitors at the finals and found everyone put their best foot forward. She was also happy to see younger and newer competitors believing they would push the culture forward and continue the country’s traditions.

Respect The Tribe came about when Sobers was performing during the sixth edition of her show Crackers and Cheese in October of last year. She was doing a calypso segment when she walked into the audience and felt inspired to speak about how people lived two or three generations ago, when neighbours would both care for and discipline children without being frowned upon.

Singer Stacey Sobers says she is happy to see younger and newer competitors believing they could push the culture forward and continue the country’s traditions. - Photo courtesy Stacey Sobers

“It was nothing because all of that was in bringing up a child or teaching a child the way they should grow. Within that moment I started to sing Missing Generation by Ella Andall. When I was finished I said the next song I’m going to do will be about long time and giving due to persons who would have assisted you in growing up and through your career.”

She told her manager and husband of ten years Gervon Abraham her plan, and they decided to contact singer/songwriter Maria Bhola. The result was Respect The Tribe.

She told WMN she recalled people like calypsonians Karen Eccles and Singing Sandra who nurtured, taught, pushed, drilled and guided her in her music career. Also her parents and siblings, extended family and friends who helped in some way, as well as her employer, a cable and internet provider, who gave her “cultural leave” to pursue her art.

“Even if you're not seeing it or respecting it, there's always somebody pushing or helping you. It just resonated in the moment that I couldn't be there without all the people who bought a ticket to come to my show. I couldn't be there without all the advice I got from people, particularly women, in the industry. I could not be there if my mother did not allow me to sing without issues and the support from my siblings when I started getting into singing.

“There are people there ready to assist. How do you repay these people for their love, their time, their support? Give them that respect and gratitude and appreciation.”

Originally from Enterprise, Sobers, who will be 47 in March, initially wanted to be a flight attendant but music took precedence as it came naturally to her.

Her father is calypsonian Glenford “Joe Cool” Sobers, co-founder of Tropical Angel Harps Steel Orchestra, her brother is reggae artist Marlon Asher and her late brother, Glenford Sobers Jr, was a founder of the jazz group Chantal Esdelle and Moyenne.

“So I come from a musical family. I grew up in a panyard, the music yard. I did background vocals for calypsonians but I actually started singing reggae or what they used to call dub. At age 17 I started singing with a group called Black by Nature and since then people from Enterprise would have been following and supporting me.”

In 2001 she burst on the scene with her soca hit Lemme Know When Yuh Comin and, in 2002, was asked to audition for Klassic Ruso calypso tent with the song and eventually became a front-line singer for the band Island Vibe.

In 2004, writer and researcher Dr Rudolph Ottley called her to audition for Divas Calypso Cabaret International where she has remained and is now a junior manager.

Stacey Sobers performs Respect the Tribe at the Dimanche Gras, at the Queen's Park Savannah, on February 11. - Photo by Jeff K. Mayers

In October 2014 her sister and nephew were murdered and her father and another nephew were injured in the same incident.

“I was doing soca before and would have been writing my own songs before but I shut down after that. So in 2015 I had nothing to sing. So my friends Tammico ‘SpiceY’ Moore and her husband Sharlan Bailey gave me a song.

“I wasn’t sure how to go forward after the incident. We (She and Abraham) had gotten married a few months before and my husband said, ‘I will help you through this. As a matter of fact I will manage you for ten years and after that I’m going to stop.’”

In 2016 she made it to her first Calypso Monarch semi-finals with a dedication to the late Mighty Stalin called One Love.

Two years later she won the National Women’s Action Committee National Calypso Queens Competition with the songs Queens and Kings. She also made it to the national calypso monarch finals for the first time with her second song Calypso Capital and won the Caribbean Calypso Queen of Queens Competition in St Kitts/Nevis.

In 2019 she graduated with an associates degree in performing arts: voice from The College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago.

“I had to do a performance for my final exam. Since I was doing different genres of music – jazz, Broadway, calypso, etc – I needed a name that would speak to everybody.

“Crackers is some thing everybody – rich, the poor, the have the have-nots – consumed at funerals, at parties, at home, everywhere. So we went with the name Crackers and Cheese which turned into a series.”

She again made it to the semi-finals of the Calypso Monarch in 2020 with No Woman No Fraid and the finals this year. She also graduated from UTT with a masters degree in Carnival Studies in 2022.

Sobers said Abraham recently “extended the contract” as her manager because there is more work to be done even though she had planned to stop competing at age 50. Instead she will focus on performing at Divas and at shows as well as acting in musicals.

“In the past 20 years we’ve (Divas) had turnovers but you still see people progressing after they leave, new people coming in and doing what they’re supposed to do, getting the love and nurturing and advice that I would have gotten, from myself and Karen Eccles who is the other junior manager. And they are doing good things. We had five people in the National Calypso Monarch semi-finals, inclusive of Machel Montano!”

Then, last year, she performed at North Coast Jazz and started acting in 2023's Queen of the Road: The Calypso Rose Musical. She said she never thought of herself as an actress and never wanted to pursue it, but when veteran theatre practitioner Rhoma Spencer asked her to play the role of Calypso Rose she could not say no.

Sobers also sings with the three-piece band Music Connections along with keyboardist Patrick Johnson and bassist Lincoln Augustus who had frequent shows at Kafe Blue in Port of Spain.

“I think there's a point where you just need to step back and allow other people to step up. If I step back I can leave a space for someone. Once I step back I can use my talents to assist others and spend more time working on me, doing my shows, and pushing my shows as a solo artist.”

She thanked her managing and make-up teams, and fashion consultant Carol Prince Mandela of Prindela Fashions for all their hard work and encouragement. And she expressed special thanks to her thespian husband who won a Cacique Award for Best Actor in 2000, and whose father was also a calypsonian. She said he has been among her biggest support as he understands the nature of her career.


"Stacy Sobers respects the tribe"

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