Trinidad’s Treasures Come to New York
By TASHA MORRIS - Basement Press
In celebration of Caribbean Week all forms of art were exhibited at Bridgewaters. The Gala charity event premiered Caribbean chefs, 3 Canal, The Skiffle Bunch Steelband Orchestra, violinist Anselm Walters, Calypso singer Black Stalin and Indian dancers from Trinidad. Tourism manager of T.I.D.C.O. (Tourism and Industrial Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago), Denise Sally Geyette, says, “We picked this group because they are the best representation of our culture.”
The mixed crowd of art lovers joins in a slow wave to the jazz melody exuding from the steel pan. The ladies of Skiffle Bunch adorned in sheer flowing dresses and the young men in coordinating Trinidad and Tobago colors of red, white and black, control tonight’s crowd. Violinist Anslem Walters’s rendition of Celine Dion’s Titanic hit “My Heart Will Go On” received a standing ovation. This group quickly speeds things up with their third song, turning the slow wave into a 'wine down low' party for the young at heart. Rapso group 3 Canal chimed in with messages liberation in the physical and spiritual sense. Fellow Trini, Kathleen McCarthy loves Caribbean music. She says “Black Stalin is one of our (Trinidad and Tobago's) treasures.”
The Skiffle Bunch has toured Europe but has never been to New York until now. The new atmosphere is not intimidating to these veterans. Maria has been playing the tenor for four years with Skiffle Bunch and thinks playing in New York is a great experience and great exposure for the band. However, they weren’t too excited about the cold and rainy weather. Panist Shynelle says, “My hands freeze and get really dry.” Lisa, who has been playing pan with the Skiffle Bunch for seven years notices that the pan instruments get clogged and there are changes in the sound of the pans. Who would have thought? These professionals keep playing and smiling in spite of it all.
Many guests had the pleasure of tasting West Indian delicacies, like curry chicken and shrimp, while David Ushery of ABC 7 and Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Culture and Tourism Penelope Beckles shed some light on the importance of embracing Caribbean culture.
The gala benefited the Caribbean Tourism Foundation and the Morris Heights Health Center. The Caribbean Tourism Foundation provides academic scholarships for students pursuing a degree in tourism. The Morris Heights Health Center provides primary health care to the predominately Caribbean/Latino community of Southwest Bronx.
General Motors, GMAC, Merrill Lynch, Absolut Spirits Company and Heineken sponsored the Caribbean and Latin Fine Art Show by the Sea. Thanks to Dr. Gloria Gordon and Sigfrido Benitez, creators of the successful charity event, there will be many more chances to experience Caribbean culture.
Tasha Morris interviews members of Skiffle Bunch before they perform at the gala event
Tourism and Culture Minister Penelope Beckles speaking, with the Black Stalin and Skiffle Bunch in the background