David Rudder surprised, humbled by Order of CARICOM

Trinidadian Artist Alicia Aberdeen-Jones with her rendering of David Michael Rudder at Paintings In The Garden III. Oil, 24Kt Gold and pure Silver on 36” x 48” Gallery Wrap canvas.
Trinidadian Artist Alicia Aberdeen-Jones with her rendering of David Michael Rudder at Paintings In The Garden III. Oil, 24Kt Gold and pure Silver on 36” x 48” Gallery Wrap canvas.
Colin Williams Photography

Trinidadian calypsonian, David Rudder was among four Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nationals who were conferred with the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC) at the opening ceremony of the recent 43rd Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, in Paramaribo, Suriname.

The other honorees were: Former CARICOM Secretary-General, Amb. Irwin LaRocque; cricketer extraordinaire Sir Vivian Richards; and Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Barbados, Dame Billie Miller.

The Georgetown, Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat said the honorees joined a cadre of distinguished persons who are honored for making outstanding contributions to the development of the Community.

The award is given to “Caribbean nationals whose legacy in the economic, political, social and cultural metamorphoses of Caribbean society is phenomenal,” said the Secretariat in a statement.

“I’m deeply humbled,” said Rudder after receiving the award. “Thank you, Caribbean Community.”

Later, he told the Canadian-based Caribbean Camera from his home in Ajax, Ontario, Canada that he was very surprised by the award.

“It felt like a dream,” Caribbean Camera quoted Rudder as saying. “It also felt great. You know, you always want to know how much of an impact your work, your art, is having beyond your normal sphere of living. This gives me a sense of how far I’ve progressed in life.”

Rudder, who was born on May 6, 1953, is renowned by his rallying cry for Caribbean fans to support the West Indies cricket team, with “Rally ‘Round the West Indies,” which has become the team’s anthem.

He is said to be “one of the most successful calypsonians of all time,” according to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia.

It said Rudder performed as lead singer for the brass band Charlie’s Roots, and that, nine years later, he “stepped outside the band, entering the calypso tent as a solo calypsonian in 1986, which was followed by an unprecedented rise to fame.”

“Almost overnight, he became a national hero of the order of Marley in Jamaica, Fela in Nigeria and Springsteen in New Jersey,” wrote Daisann McClane, American journalist and Worldbeat correspondent for Rolling Stone Magazine.

Wikipedia said Rudder’s music quickly became the subject of music critics around the world: “From New York to London to Tokyo, where the Japanese have released a CD of Rudder’s greatest hits complete with lyrics translated into Japanese, Rudder has been described as modern calypso’s most innovative songwriter.”

The CARICOM Secretariat said the OCC was first conferred in 1992. The first awardees were Dr. William Demas, former CARICOM Secretary-General; Sir Shridath Ramphal, former chief negotiator of the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM), and former Commonwealth Secretary-General, chairman of the West Indian Commission and former Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (UWI); and Derek Walcott, distinguished and internationally-acclaimed poet and playwright, and 1992 Nobel Prize recipient for literature.

Over the years, the Secretariat said the list has expanded to encompass a range of other persons, including former Heads of Government, sports personalities, regional creatives, representatives of the legal fraternity, members of academia, economists and members of the medical profession.

Rudder told Caribbean Camera that he was awed to be in such “august company,” stating that the award “means a lot to me.”

“I sometimes feel that the arts do not get the respect it deserves,” he said. “I feel that this allows me to feel that it [my award] represents all those who have something to say. So, I accept it on their behalf.

“You know, I reached a point where I was getting a bit jaded and not as eager to produce at the same level to which I’m accustomed,” Rudder added. “But this award tells me that I should go on.”

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