Web Posted - Sunday June 27, 2021
When Steel Talks

Winsford “Joker” Devine, the Bard of Trinidad

by Raffique Shah

Trinidad & Tobago, W.I. - I imagine that like me, most calypso aficionados first became aware of the existence of the late Winsford ‘Joker’ Devine when, in 1980, a virtually unknown calypsonian, ‘King’ Austin Lewis, emerged as a favourite for the calypso monarch title in his debut appearance, singing Devine’s record-breaking composition, ‘Progress’. The affable Austin didn’t win the title, running second to accomplished performer Lord Relator.

But ‘Progress’ shot to the top of the charts with its poetry-like construct and haunting melody, that made it so infectious, it triggered a musical pandemic long before we knew what a pandemic was.

Twenty years later, in the year 2000, ‘Progress’ was acclaimed the Calypso of the 20th Century across the world, wherever calypso was recognized as an important genre of music.