Thursday, January 8, 2015

State of Affairs

Watching, reading or hearing the news - local or international resembles that of a horror movie/ story. 

Lives are being lost, minute by minute; crime of all kind has escalated, yet talks of 'serious crime' on the decline are repeated to appease a nation's outcry/dissatisfaction. 

In other news, millions are spent on advertisements portraying, 'Your #Government Working For You' along with smiling faces of seemingly satisfied customers. Yet still, we have a high rate of unemployment, corruption on the rise (White or Blue Collar) and many unsolved murder cases, some undetected and missing persons...

But one thing remains constant, with a questionable economic state (fluctuating currency and low oil prices) and pending 'run-off', money is being spent (and borrowed) on a rampage. Whether it be strategic, transparent or a sign of good investing or not, is yet to be seen. 

What will the 'return' be in the following years to come? Can we predict it and are we prepared for it? 

It can't be business as usual...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Soca and the Soca-man

In our present day, Soca is seen as mainstream in Trinidad and Tobago, to the extent of locally produced music, while other genres of music are sidelined and not supported at the same level. Be it on the radio airwaves or within our cultural sector, Soca music (and its derivatives) are given prominence.

Having sat and listened to the contribution made by Mr. Machel Mantano in tonight's Open Lecture Series, hosted by UWI STA Guild - 'Soca State of Mind', I wondered whether or not, Machel's inference of hard work and strategy for the Soca Monarch 2011 win, was a true reflection of hard work or an instance of entitlement?

Two million dollars was spent on Advantageous or was it Scandalous and White Oak and water? How did that money positively impact the Soca industry and its development, and could one say that this stimulated creative expression or conscious awareness or was it a rat race for the gold? In Ralph Henry's study of the Music Industry of Trinidad and Tobago he stated that, "...things cultural often have a demand component that emanates from the promoter or producer directly. Thus, there is the element of inspiration and the need for self-expression that lead the originator to create a work of art."  One may state that the demand for the music was the main factor. To contend, was the demand made by the public or was the demand created or enforced by the Djs/radio stations to increase popularity and plays?

Mention was made of the Kiskadee Karavan and how it paved the way for the development of local music in Trinidad and Tobago, however those efforts seem futile and unrealised owing to the control of the Soca Mafia on national radio stations daily (media control what is broadcast) and during the Carnival Season. The ‘Kiskadee Karavan’ "was led by millionaire Robert Amar who invested his money in the unleashing of the... music of Trinidad and Tobago. The Karavan revolutionised Trinidad’s music by taking ‘traditional’ forms like [the] Rapso and giving it modern production and promotional methods to take the music to stadiums in the native Trinidad and Tobago. This opportunity uncovered many talents on the ground, and was able to create a series of anthemic musical singles." Source: Wikipedia

The Karavan led to the creation of the internationally acclaimed recording studio, Caribbean Sound Basin. 

Although many benefitted from this in the 90s, today's investment is not as high as before. The value placed on locally produced music of other genres are not significant and can/has caused disenchantment of local producers of music. Yes, Machel has indeed contributed to Soca (has this been a positive or an extensive impact on the industry?), however, it was the late Mr. Garfield Blackman, commonly known as Ras Shorty I  (and in earlier times Lord Shorty I) who invented Soca (defined as a fusion of calypso with Indian rhythms). He (Shorty I) stated that "calypso was dying, and reggae was the new thing - this prompted Lord Shorty to experiment with the calypso rhythm for nearly a decade. He combined Indian rhythm instruments (particularly the dholak, tabla and dhantal) with traditional calypso music. The result was a new energetic musical hybrid called soca. In 1973, Lord Shorty introduced soca to the world with his hit song √Źndrani. The release of his 1974 album Endless Vibrations prompted dozens of musicians to adopt the new soca style." Source: Artdrum, History of Soca Music

In later years, Ras Shorty I spoke about the lack of airplay and its effect on the music industry. In 2001, one of his sons, Sheldon Blackman, Rubadiri Victor and other members of the Recording Industry Association of Trinidad and Tobago (RIATT - currently run by Fabian Alphonso, President) would take to the streets of POS (in front the Red House) and protest for their music to be played on the radio. To date, that struggle continues for many artistes - what are Machel Montano's views on the state of affairs that exist? Does he play a role in curbing the stereotype and discrimination or is he and others a part of the problem?

There is much talk with regards to creating a platform for Soca in International Markets - to what extent has this been achieved? If not, what is prohibitting its growth?

According to Lisa Wickham, CEO of E-Zone Entertainment, “the absence of vital infrastructure means there actually is no music and entertainment industry in Trinidad and Tobago. Because our industry lacks this support, there is neither the financial framework nor are there financial pools from which upcoming artistes can tap into to help build their careers... There’s a dire need for standardisation and regularisation in the industry to create products of the highest calibre and to offset the difficulty associated with attracting local investors.” 

If we are to assess the content or rather the consensus of Soca music, can we say that the music is of a standard/quality that can be packaged and sold on a large scale/mass produced to get the recognition it needs to cross over? Unlike Soca, Calypso has achieved such recognition, yet one may ask why is it considered to be a 'dying artform'? What variables contributed to its demise? How then can we talk about 'popular culture through public education initiatives', if we have not preserved what came before - if we do not know of our history? What then can we draw from? 

On the flip side, should emphasis be placed on Soca music as the main representation/reflection of Trinbago music?

As consumers, what do we want?

Rachael N. Collymore
© 2011 Registered & Protected

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In this Life...

We've battled with ourselves on this winding road called, life.

We've fought wars in our minds and mindlessly, we have wandered...

At times, madness seems to be the only refuge and solace, insanity...

We struggle to hold on to a belief that we can, that we will, that we must...

We struggle to connect the dots along the way.

The drive and push seems to come from deep within, to propel us onward.

Yet, the God-in-man seems elusive... to some

This skin that houses me; this flesh that feels so much...

So much pain and turmoil, so much annoyance, seems to put a wager on us:

Who will you believe? Why would you believe? Why should you...?

Let's be 'realistic'... and the agony of the mind screams for the day of reckoning.

Though the heart, sometimes weak, thrives on a belief...

A belief that there maybe or indeed, there is...

Pain and anger, the stimulus... always seem to hold us to ransom...

Who's got the bargaining chips?

... the pendulum hooks the waivering eye... Transfixed.

Left to right; left or right... 

All this is, is what is in this existence: Life.

What do you acclaim to it? What purpose do you attribute?

There are those who 'live' it, merrily and like an ecstacy drug, they escape it...

For if life is escapism, why then should you live? 

Oh but so many desire to be free...

To be freed...

Freedom. Who is free?

The happy go lucky, the girls who love fun or the guys who're in it for the ride...?

Sometimes, madness is the only escape from 'life' - IF - life is just that... 
So why open your eyes to a new day, if the day is not yours? 

Why toil continuously... 

There must be... 

We've  become tone deaf...

We've become accustomed to the noise...

So many voices... So many words... 

Who can hear?

In silence... what is heard?

We can be our greatest hindrance

We can be the greatest... 

but for whose esteem?

...Life is fickle

Written by: Rachael N. Collymore
© 2011 Registered & Protected

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Faces unknown

Changes with the movement of time, 

Changing positions - shifts

Twitching eyes, stares and glances...

Faces unknown.

Everyone is on an escalator - gliding through time...

Day in, day out...

Press the rewind button.

Fast forward to tomorrow...

Deja vu

and you're on repeat...

From Woodford Square to Frederick Street, there are people.

The day is long gone. Commuters and pedestrians make their way out of Port of Spain. 

Walking on the sidewalk - stores close for the day, though the street vendors stay awhile to ply their trade.

The pirates... [Their DVDs and CDs we buy] hang by the corner, playing the hottest tunes, while everyone and everything seem to pass by, unnoticed.

The place 'looks' dead and dismal.

Faces unknown flash by, drifting with the out-traffic. Feet shuffle.

How many are paying attention to what's happening around them?

There's a boy or man on the pavement - whatever is he?

He shakes. Never still, never speaks.
Big grin.

There's music in his head (assuming), but no one hears.

A woman shouts. Maybe his mother.
Grey hair, small in stature - she's there. 

Day by day, night after night - with batteries, cassettes and at times, cigarettes.
There's a story waiting to be told... This woman and her son - boy or man.

Further along, on to Independence Square; people all around.

Some sitting on the concrete benches by the circular...

Others on the Brian Lara Promenade - waiting for nightfall.

There's coconut water to quench your thirst,
'doubles': slight pepper for some,
burgers, fries and bar-be-que or Ital food, if you prefer. 

Rastaman knows his customers; for the regulars come for their choice of 
soya chunks, peas or bhagee, pie or rice - as soon as he arrives.

Yet, those without shelter prowl the streets and bins for their evening supper. 

Fortunate are few who are treated to a box of food and something to drink by a good samaritan...

The sun recedes behind the clouds; to the left, there's a hint of the moon.

The taxis are few. People wait: $4, $5 or $7 to get home.

KFC is full and the queue, long.

Blackbirds are plenty... Their piercing voices, loud.

Chineeman doh close... Chinese restaurant, bakery, grocery and pharmacy are open for business...
Sometimes 24hrs.

Business is booming. We are patriots.  

Tomorrow is another day.

Written by: Rachael N. Collymore
© 2011 Registered & Protected

Friday, October 1, 2010

In the name of God

People hold many views on the subject at hand and will continue to do so until the end of time.

From day to day, the name of God is used - in reverence, in contempt, in deceit, in mockery or astonishment... The famous, "OMG!" A line spelt out or said by enthused Americans and the like have trickled down through the cultural barriers to our local shores of the twin island, Trinidad and Tobago.

Nothing escapes us... We have our own twang and slogan (for whenever lightening strikes or the threat of hurricane/storm/earthquakes/tsunamis spare our fragile land) - "God is a Trini!!!" Hail La Trinity! Then back to business or a nearby rum shop to celebrate.

The recent spate of floods in Trinidad and Tobago is a severe warning of what is to come and a sure indication of unpreparedness! Port of Spain has been prone to high seas taking over, flooding drains due to clogging and floating cars... A lot of damage caused to the central and outer parts of our isles... Not to mention, the contraction of diseases, prone illnesses and fatalities... Our slurred remarks of God being Trini can't save us...

We tend to fall victim to these sayings, sometimes unconscious of our statements - "For Christsake man"! "Oh Gawd-o"! "Jeez"! "Jesus Christ!" I don't know when this became a part of our lingo, but it has. The name of God is abused many times; it is absurd! Do we understand that we are contaminating what is holy and righteous?

When we say, God or Father, we are acknowledging Him as our sovereign Lord and King - Abba Father! To swear to God is to bring ill to what is sacred. What is interesting about this is that you would not hear a Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist disrespect or bring dishonor to what is sacred and holy to them. They stand by their belief, their fate/religion.

However, the power of the word, "God" falls deafly on one's ear when used to highlight the profane... God himself must wonder, "What in God's name is going on!" Are they talking to me? Are they praying with a pure heart? Are they lifting up my name?

Do we ever take the time to hear ourselves? It comes so naturally as saying, "What de hell" or "Hell no"...

We get trapped easily by songs, lyrics, music - which gets into our sub-conscience (that's the way subliminal messages go), we don't know when we begin to repeat words and conduct, which are propagated in the music filtering through the airwaves... It is as lethal as the vents outside of a KFC building, compelling you to come inside; indulging your senses - you find it hard to resist.

When will we be conscious of what is happening around us... We are being led to a dead end and we can't see it, because we choose not to see... We are admonished to WATCH! Observe the times... but who is paying attention to things these days! It is easy to turn a blind eye. It is easy to ignore. Who wants to be held accountable? Who wants to be responsible?

The evidence of what is, lays visible to the trained and discerning eye! There are signs all around us. Everyday we see the manifestation of destruction and also the manifestation of salvation... Wars will be - they are inevitable - for time is short.

All that is in the now has been foretold and I reckon, if we begin to observe a little and take a 'time-out' like 'Kit-Kat' :) to understand and find out who is "GOD", our creator and Father - Life as we know it will change and it will be purposeful.

So when I say, "In the name of God" or "In the name of the Father" I am speaking a command that must be fulfilled. We communicate with the Father through prayer and we speak His word on earth - for the earth is the Lord's and the fullness therein. There is power in God's name!

We have heard it a dozen times over:

"Do not use the Lord's name in Vain!"

A statement that will forever be relevant.

Seek God. Seek His wisdom and understanding...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Seeing the Unseen

I'm in NYC the land where "dreams" are made and realised or so it's been said and I'm walking through the streets of Manhattan and Time Square and life seems to be thriving! Harmonic melodies from the blues joints, the hustle and bustle of the afternoon traffic... Everything seems to be... well, 'peachy'!

I walk a little farther and there's an elderly man on the sidewalk, container on the ground, shoulders bent, guitar in hand, hat on his head and speakers below... He plays the blues... sweet tunes echo through the chords, through the guitar strings - in its hollow core... but although my ears arch to hear and sing to the beat, my eyes can't deceive me... In the midst of the skyscrapers, the majestic buildings, luxury cars, fashionistas and gurus... the one that suffers, stands out the most!

Again, I walk through the city - a tourist I am to this place... Camera in hand and I'm snapping my memories as they come... Another man is playing the saxophone on the corner... this gift of music can't replace a home.

Night comes and the city comes alive with bright lights and nightlife... I'm heading to the Staten Island Ferry... There's a lady outside the port - singing her soul for a quarter... She's average looking, casually dressed as she sits on the wayside as people pass by; some drop some change in her cup as she continues to sing... The place is crowded as everyone of all sizes, race, colour and status, wait patiently to get on board the ferry as it comes... for a free ride across the sea...

Many tourists stand on the outskirts to capture the moment and grandeur of this place! I see the Statue of Liberty!!! What a sight! Then I catch a glimpse of something else. I saw an elderly woman walk unto the ferry, loaded with a large plastic bag on a cart filled with empty cans and plastic bottles...

As the ferry glides across the still waters, I look at her from a distance... She's going through the bins, she takes out the cans and bottles and places them in her bag... Her face is weary, the harsh lines on her face and the curve of her back tells her story... She's had a hard life... Who knows how she ended up like this...

I shift my eyes back to the sea and watch the City buildings and its beauty... I get lost in its serenity for a while, as it occupies my thoughts and feelings at this point... A sadness comes over me.

Unto the next ferry for the ride back, I decide to take a closer look at the people around me... Families and friends gather for the experience and I'm wishing that my family was here with me, especially my three year old nephew! I know he'd have a time... I look at the little ones and their amusement... their innocence one longs to keep safe.

There are the travellers who've been here before and are just taking the ride to get home... There are those in conversations and those who wish to be left alone... Young mothers with many babies and single.

The ferry docks and I get off and exit from my point of entry... The lady on the wayside is still there after half hour, singing her soul...

Seems like there's so much opportunity, except for those who fall through the cracks in all hopelessness!

There are men sleeping on benches - their bed for the night... No room for the shelter...

I drift back to my homeland, Trinidad and I visualize Port of Spain at night... A vagrant on each corner, in the promenade, on the sidewalk, in every nook and cranny - that's our city! They look more decrepit than the ones I see on these benches in New York City.

Maybe if life wasn't hard at home, they won't be on the cold, hard, dusty streets... Maybe if they weren't hooked on drugs... Maybe if society didn't give up on them or treat them like outcasts... Maybe...

The sun rises and its sets... day comes and then the night befalls us and in that time, we rest or stay awake when robbed of sleep or when the perils of life seem too burdensome to close your eyes to dream...

Sometimes life's journey can be a long and winding road, but in that journey one needs to remember that life is what we make of it... and sometimes all you need to do is Pray!

Look around you and remove the blinders - begin to see!

Rachael N. Collymore

© 2010

NB. All Pictures herein are the sole ownership of the writer and are subject to copyright laws!

Friday, September 17, 2010


The world that we live in holds many life stories...

The truth of who we are, where we came from, what we are destined to be,

lays in our midst... waiting!