After much dedication and hard work, the Brooklyn-based cultural group Tropicalfete, Inc. ended 2021 on a high musical note.
According to Alton Aimable, the group’s St. Lucian-born founder and president, the grand finale, which took place at the BMS Playhouse Theater, was well attended by “an appreciative audience.”
“This annual end of year concert, which is Tropicalfete’s free musical gift to the community, was very spectacular, allowing the organization to take their final bow for 2021,” Aimable told Caribbean Life.
He said the trio – vocalist Kayla “Devine Lotus” John, bassist Collin Holder and keyboardist Henly Goddard – who opened the show, “delivered a harmonious performance, with a soulful touch.”
Aimable said pannist Ricardo Greenaway entertained the audience with “the sweet melodious sound of the steel pan,” and “’Mr. Lonesome’ had the crowd dancing to his very popular parang tune ‘I Ain’t Goin’, which was arranged by Franklyn ‘Frankie’ McIntosh (the Vincentian-born pre-eminent Caribbean musical arranger).”
As is customary, Aimable said a moment of silence was observed for artists who transitioned in 2021, as well as a dance presentation honoring Tropicalfete’s family members, including parents and guardians, who transitioned this year.
Additionally, Aimable said Ana Rosa did a spiritual dance presentation to the popular song, “If I Would Have Known”, by Kyle Hume.
He said while Tropicalfete’s Voices choir group was not at “full force”, in terms of numbers, because of the COVID protocols, Gayrleen Orange represented the group, scoring “a homerun with her singing” and “getting a standing ovation.”
Aimable said Trinidadian signer and author Anslem Douglas performed three songs in his set, including “When ah dead bury me clothes” and “Doggie/Who let the dogs out.”
The “super-talented Tropicalfete’s Stilting Unit, Mas and Theatre, under the leadership of Charles Watts, Roshumba Marcelle and Caitlyn Pierre, who put on an exciting performance,” Aimable said.
He said, after a five-minute performance, the stilt dancers were joined on stage by Douglas, singing “Doggie/Who let the dogs out”, with a new twist, “Who let the jumbies out.”
“While everyone was dancing, chanting and wondering ‘Who let the jumbies out,’ the tallest masquerader, ‘Saga Boy’, who was portrayed by Victor Estrada, also joined Douglas and the stilt dancers to put on a memorable performance,” Aimable said.
He said “this exciting display of skill” was followed by the awards presentation.
Aimable said Tropicalfete Award of Excellence was presented to McIntosh, renowned for arranging the music of a number of Caribbean soca and calypso artistes, including Alston “Becket” Cyrus, Shadow, Chalkdust, Calypso Rose, Singing Francine, Lord Shorty, Winston Soso, Duke and Marchel Montano.
The GRAMMYAward-winning Douglas was also presented with the Tropicalfete Award of Excellence. Douglas has a number of awards under his belt including a Grammy award.
Aimable said that, for the past several years, Douglas has continued to perform, record and write songs while also focusing on other pursuits, including writing his first children’s book, “The Adventures of Spin & Scratch-The Relocation.”
This year’s college scholarship was granted to Nazyia Bembry “because of her dedication, passion, love and respect to the arts,” Aimable said.
“Bembry is always willing to learn, teach and assist other students whenever the need arises”, he said, disclosing that Bembry, a student at New York City College of Technology, was presented with an award, a check for $1,000 and “a bag pack full with her Tropicalfete gear.”
Aimable said Ralph Bisceglia’s generous donation to Tropicalfete’s mission made the college scholarship possible.
Under the leadership of Ashley Murray, Aimable said “the elegantly dressed and enthusiastic” Tropicalfete’s Steel Pan Ensemble “put on a brilliant performance that had everybody going wild, especially when they played their final piece, ‘Jerusalema.’”
While the Ensemble played, Douglas joined in on stage, singing “Winter Wonderland.”
While Mistress of Ceremonies Tanisha Burke engaged the audience, DJ SB Sounds and sound engineer Eryk Sonny, of Natural Sound, also “kept the them musically-entertained,” Aimable said.