by Arley Gill
We got to know each other personally in 1992 or thereabouts. We were both students at the University of the West Indies, Extramural Centre, at Marryshow House. I started pursuing my law degree and he was doing something along the lines of economics.
In those days at the Extramural Centre, transportation after 6 pm was far more unreliable then than it is now. So, when I had late classes – and Bubbler likewise – I would hitch a lift with him, as we both were going up the west coast.
On those rides, we used to discuss and have debates on most issues – from culture and calypso, to politics and international affairs. Our talk was always issue-based, very little “ole’’ talk. Oftentimes, when I reached my destination we would continue the discussions. “Bubble’’ as I affectionately called him, would stop and turn off the engine and our verbal exchange continued.
When the carnival season approached, he would run his ideas by me; later, there would be the demos and early recordings. At the time he drove this blue car; cannot remember the brand or model now.
Bubbler came to prominence from the first year he sang calypso. It was a classic song called, “Put a Hand for the Calypsonian’’. The nation took notice from that year and onwards, and Bubbler continued to make strides in the calypso world. He would have made the Calypso Monarch semifinals on many occasions and the finals too.
Bubbler gave us hits like “Calypso at Any Cost’’; “Chester Humphrey in Charge’’; “In Your Face’’; “Put the Cork on the Bottle’’; “Survival’’; “Meism’’, and many more. I had the opportunity to get an early listen to quite a few of the songs.
Bubbler’s contribution did not stop at just singing. For many years after Praying Mantis left the scene, Bubbler took up the mantle of keeping a calypso tent in the cultural parish of St Patrick. I was privy to the struggle to get a band together; instruments and players. Finding vehicles to transport the band and just the share struggle to keep a tradition alive. Bubbler did that until ill-health wouldn’t permit him the physical strength to do so. Even then, in our exchanges, he would muse about calypso and the tent. That was Bubbler. He was a calypsonian to heart.
Bubbler made a significant contribution to the calypso art form in Grenada through his music and also his leadership at keeping a tent going. I know he made great personal sacrifices. He was able to overcome a speaking impediment to sing for us. We will never forget his little dance and stage antics. He was passionate about the culture. A true culture man!
Rest In Peace, mi brother! God’s speed.