Vincentians pay last respect to ‘Rolls Royce of Calypso’

Winston Soso’s children, from left, Renson Haynes, Evan Lockhart and Shanell Lockhart, in front pew.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Vincentians and other Caribbean nationals Saturday evening paid their last respect to Vincentian Cultural Ambassador, Winston Soso, renowned as “the Rolls Royce of Calypso,” during a funeral service at St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church on Hawthorne Street in Brooklyn.

Soso — whose real name was Trevor Lockhart — died on July 18 at State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center and University Hospital of Brooklyn.

His son, Evan Lockhart, told Caribbean Life that Soso, the former lead singer of the defunct top Vincentian band Clymax, died of multiple medical complications. He went to the Great Beyond a few days after his 69th birthday.

In an impromptu reunion, some former members of Clymax paid tribute to Soso musically and in speeches in the two-hour-long service.

Other tributes were paid by, among others, pre-eminent Vincentian calypsonian Alston “Becket” Cyprus, known as “the ABC of Calypso,” and calypsonian Cyril “Scorcher” Thomas — both also Vincentian cultural ambassadors – who, in 1986, along with calypsonians Cauldric Forbes and the late Walter Porter, formed the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Entertainers Guild of North America.

Scorcher, a former St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Deputy Consul General to the United States, said the defunct group was dedicated to fostering “the musical aspirations of young Vincentian artistes here in the Diaspora.”

Tributes were also paid by Brooklyn-based, Vincentian musical arranger Adrian Bailey — who, along with Allan “Tom” Doyle, owner of San Souci Studio in Brooklyn, and retired Registered Nurse Laverne Munro — had established a GoFundMe to help defray medical costs for Soso during his long period of illness.

In addition, Vincentian sports ambassador Stanley “Luxie” Morris — a former national football (soccer) captain, who played under Soso’s captaincy, when he was a goal keeper for the local Vincentian club Avenues United and the national team in the late 1960s and early 1970s – paid homage to the cultural and sports icon.

Wayne Grant, representing the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation, and Olson Dallaway, Consul at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Consulate General in midtown Manhattan, were among others who offered tributes.

Becket’s tribute was read by Gary Palmer, a trumpeter, who, along with Soso, were also lead vocalists with Clymax.

“Due to circumstances beyond my control, I am unable to be with you in person today to celebrate the life of our musical brother Winston Soso,” Becket said. “My heartfelt sympathy goes out to the family, friends and fans of Winston, especially his children; his mother Melvina Edwards; ex-wife Petra; girlfriend Marva; Clymax band; all Vincies everywhere; and members of the calypso and Caribbean musicians’ fraternities.

“May the Great God Almighty bless the soul of Winston Soso, ‘the Rolls Royce’, and let him rest in eternal peace,” he added.

Scorcher, also an erstwhile national goalkeeper in soccer in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said he, Becket and Soso had “travelled far and wide”, and that Soso’s name “will live on forever.”

Morris, a former captain and manager of Team SVG in the Brooklyn-based Caribbean Soccer Cup, described Soso as “a very dear and personal friend”, and that Soso was “one of the best custodians (goal keepers in soccer) bar none.

“With Soso between the sticks, our goal was a fortress,” he said.

Grant said Soso’s “name will be called in the annals of football in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, along with Mr. Cyril Scorcher (Thomas).”

Dallaway noted that “the soulful, articulated delivery” of Soso’s songs and “the rich melodic tone in his voice made the late, popular Vincentian radio and television broadcaster ‘Randy D’ (real name Ferrand Dopwell) dub him the ‘Rolls Royce of Calypso’”.

He said Soso wrote and performed many songs for Clymax, including the hit “Diane.”

Image of Winston Soso posted next to his casket. Photo by Nelson A. King

“Trevor ‘Winston Soso’ Lockhart is remembered as very disciplined, dedicated and determined cultural ambassador,” Dallaway said. “He has left an indelible legacy for all musicians to emulate.”

Becket said Soso, “one of the top soca artists in the world,” was the composer and performer of his signature “I Doh Mind,” “one of the greatest soca hits of all time.”

He said Soso had many other big hits, including “How Some Men Love Dey Women,” also called “Big Bottom”; “Ah Feel to Party Tonight”; “Rude Girl Posse”; “Come Ley We Go in The Back and Fool Around”; “Congratulations”; “Don’t Throw Stones”; and “Too Much Corruption.”

Before performing “Congratulations”, along with Bob Marley’s “One Love” and other ballads, Bernard “Bonni” Browne, leader of the defunct Clymax, assured the officiating priest, Jamaican-born the Rev. Fr. Donovan I. Leys, that the temporarily-revived group was “going to do some songs that’s not going to violate the sanctity” of the church.

“Winston loved a little reggae, too; so, we can do it for him,” said Browne before the band performed the universally renowned “One Love.”

Bailey thanked Soso for his musical /cultural contributions to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, stating that he first met Soso 30-odd years ago, when Bailey joined the Vincentian band Blacksand.

“Over the years, we collaborated not just on stage but in recording studios, too, as Winston was a prolific song writer, writing many songs for different artistes, as well as [for] himself,” Bailey said. “He once told me that he used to write at least two songs a day and recorded the demos on his computer. I really hope something meaningful can be done with those archives.”

Bailey disclosed that Soso was “so ready to show his appreciation” to the public for funds raised through the GoFundMe, via a free concert, after the pandemic, when he got better.

“However, this was not to be,” Bailey said. “He is in a better place now.”

Sherill-Ann Mason-Haywood, chairperson of the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc., said Soso, “one of the humblest Vincentian artistes, has already etched his name into the cultural and sporting annals of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, having donned our national colors in soccer and flying our flag internationally in the music arena.”

She said “the breadth of his musical catalog is immense, spanning calypso and soca, to ballads and Christmas music,” noting that Soso was named a cultural ambassador for St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2014 and a Cultural Awardee at the SVG Diaspora Heritage Awards in Brooklyn in 2017.

Despite his musical and sporting prowess, Shanell Lockhart said her father, to her and others, was “just dad.”

“Dad was quiet, sensitive, proud and somewhat a reclusive person,” she said in eulogizing Soso, stating that she was “completely unashamed to say I’m a daddy’s girl.

“Dad was a man of dep and abiding faith,” said Shanell, flanked by her brother, Evan. “When is body began to fail, his faith held him up.

“I will miss my father more than anyone can ever think,” she continued. “He’s at peace; we’ll be fine.”

Fr. Leys, who hails from the parish of St. James in Jamaica, said that the days ahead will be “very difficult” for Soso’s family, adding: “We firmly believe the memories, the joy of a loved one lives on forever.”

Soso’s body was interred on Monday at Cypress Hills Cemetery on the Brooklyn-Queens corridor.