By Hudson George
We celebrated another Grenada Day on August 23, 2014, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; similar to how Grenadians in New York have their own celebration. However, even though there is no calypso and soca monarch competitions for Grenadian artistes based in Toronto, they are aware of the fact that they are getting the recognition and respect from the organisers of the event. On the other, it is unfair for the organisers to be labeling them as local artistes.
Hudson George has a BA in Social Science from York University, Toronto, Canada. He has been writing since his early teenage years and now contributes letters and articles to a number of Caribbean newspapers
It is very important for the organisers to know that they are disrespecting those Grenadians artistes in Toronto. The organisers must come to their senses and suppose to know that our artistes in Toronto are not begging them to perform in this cultural annual event, as they tend to believe they are doing those artistes a favour. If Grenada Day in Toronto is a pure Grenada cultural event, therefore, Toronto-based Grenadian artistes must be treated with respect and not like beggars.
However, some of those Toronto-based artistes are saying that the organisers are labeling them as local artistes, as means of trying to make them look as amateurs, rather than professionals and to avoid paying them money for stage performance. Therefore, they are planning to create a Toronto-based soca and calypso organisation, so that they can get respect from those organisers of event, who tend to want them to perform free, even though the events are not free to the audience.
In addition, while the organisers are doing such an injustice to the Toronto-based artistes, the same organisers sometimes invite non-Grenadian artistes in Toronto to perform at the event and pay them money for their performances. In addition, although it is very good that the organisers invite non-Grenadians artistes to be part of the celebration, that does not give them the right to make their own artistes inferior performers. For example, in the past eight years or so, some Toronto-based Grenadians artistes made songs that are popular in the carnival and on radio stations.
The organisers of Grenada Day are aware of the fact that some Grenadian-based artistes made songs that are popular within the Grenadian community and beyond, but they have this old backward Grenadian mentality imbedded in them that, if they know persons within their community with talent, they must exploit the talent from those persons for free. They are so bad minded. They think that if they pay their own artistes within the community some money, those artistes will make money and profit from them. However, this is true example, how the small-island mentality of backwardness always shows up as negative, within our Grenadian society that is not industrious but very political.
Additionally, some of the Toronto-based artistes are blaming themselves too. They are saying that should have organised themselves as a cultural body years ago. However, they think it is never too late for them to organise themselves. They believe that they have the talent and potential as those New York-based Toronto artistes, who performed at the this year’s 2014 Grenada Day event in Toronto, even though Grenadians in New York have their own independence calypso monarch competition and Grenadians in Toronto do not have that competition.
They are saying that Toronto-based Grenadian calypsonians such as Lyon, Redman and Spice are as talented as Val Adams, Super Star, Quako and Randy Isaac, who performed in the 2014 New York Grenada Calypso Monarch Competition. They are saying that Toronto-based Grenadian soca artiste known as the Flying Gaybo is talented and full of energy as any other Grenadian soca artiste at home and anywhere else abroad. However, they think it is time for the organisers of Grenada Day and other Grenadian organisations that host events for profit, to pay them some monies for their performance, rather than expecting them to always perform at events free.
In conclusion, Grenadian based soca and calypso artistes are saying it loud and clear. Enough is enough with the nonsense and exploitation of their creativity. It is time they get the true respect needed to them. They are saying to the organisers of cultural events in Toronto, please stop trying to exploit Toronto-Grenadian artistes’ culture free and learn to respect them as professionals because their talented gift represents pure Grenada and not foreign imitation. So stop the exploitation! Their talent is not to be exploited by persons who do not understand and recognise the importance of culture as a national resource!