Mighty Sparrow celebrates 81st birthday

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NEW YORK, USA — Dr Slinger Francisco, the legendary Mighty Sparrow, or as he is fondly known “Birdie”, a West Indian calypso icon, celebrates his 81st birthday on Saturday.

Sparrow was born in the fishing village of Grand Roy, Grenada, on July 9, 1935. He moved to Trinidad with his mother, his father having relocated there in 1937, and grew up in Port of Spain.

His musical accomplishments, particular in calypso, have ensured that the Mighty Sparrow will continue to have a long lasting legacy among fans of all ages. He has won multiple awards, many other significant university citations from governments and organizations too numerous to mention. He has achieved numerous recognitions and worldwide fame.

His songs such as Jean and Dinah, May May, Sa Sa Yea, Unity, Melda O, Jail, Pay as You Earn ‘PAYE’, Age is Just a Number, Drunk and Disorderly, Wanted Dead or Alive, Human Rights, Sexy Marajhin, Capitalism Gone Mad, The Lizard, The More the Merrier, and countless others, are just some of his best known and best praised songs. His songs have put him in the spotlight and earned him worldwide recognition. He is still a prolific performer today, and shows no sign of stopping.

Eleven times Calypso Monarch, which included winning the King of Kings Competition, he has also won the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival Road March Competition on eight occasions, coming in second only to the late Lord Kitchener, another world class entertainer and singer. 

The Mighty Sparrow is one of a rare breed of public intellectuals, who is respected both for his music and his intelligence. He is an extraordinary example of a Caribbean intellectual, combining his unique understanding of the past with a limitless capacity to anticipate the future. He has had a tremendous influence on West Indian culture, with his compositions, his lyrics, his music, his voice, his writing, his sharp and lively talk and speeches, his humanity and advice.

One thing he hates is when people ask him why is he so popular, larger than life, and why do so many people like his music?

“It’s like asking a beautiful woman, why all the men are in love with her. Well, because she is beautiful, and I can sing,” he says.

Sparrow is a man who rocked stages far and wide. He knows how to make his millions of fans worldwide happy. The Mighty Sparrow has been at the forefront of the industry, with a career spanning decades. A calypsonian of great acclaim and accomplishments, he has had numerous top selling albums, and numerous number one songs, and is still a household name today. His music career has been full, and he still actively tours around the world. He has shown he can still dominate any dance hall and concerts, and has more gold albums than any other calypsonian or soca artist in history. He is exceptionally well known and loved for his work, and remains a favourite of millions. 

The Mighty Sparrow has a string of credits to his name. Chief of the Yorubas, which means “Chief Omo Wale of Ikoy” as he is known throughout Nigeria, and in New York, the late Mayor Ed Koch proclaimed March 18 the Mighty Sparrow Day. With honourary doctorate degrees, doctor of letters from the University of the West Indies, he was inducted into the Sunshine Awards Calypso and Steelband Music Hall of Fame on June 24. Then Brooklyn borough president, Howard Folder, proclaimed June 24, Mighty Sparrow Day.

We can take some beauty lessons from him too, especially when it comes to keeping his great smile. His face is still instantly recognizable by multiple generations of fans. The man is a fashion icon and trendsetter within the calypso and soca music industry. There should be a musical about his life; let’s hope that someone will produce it soon. 

The Mighty Sparrow has brought an abundance of honour, glory, dignity and pride to the calypso art form, and he has utilized the medium he masters, not only to entertain, but to identify, enlighten, highlight, educate and edify. He continues to receive praise and fame worldwide for his remarkable accomplishments. 

Today, July 9, the Mighty Sparrow is celebrating his birthday. Join us in wishing this son of the soil a happy birthday.

Courtesy: Helen Grenade & Caribbean News Now