Dr. Slinger Francisco, The Mighty Sparrow

bestSparrow

Today is the King of Calypso Mighty Sparrow’s 74th birthday. The Mighty Sparrow (also known, affectionately, as the Birdie) was born in Grenada on July 9, 1935, but moved to Trinidad when he was one year old. He earned major recognition in the Caribbean in 1956, when he won Trinidad’s Carnival Road March and Calypso Monarch with his most famous song, “Jean and Dinah.” With Aldwyn “Lord Kitchener” Roberts and Harry Belafonte, paving the way, his calypso style gained popularity in Europe and the United States. Through the decades, he continued changing with the music—as soca became more popular in the 70s and 80s—and never lost his acclaim. His lyrics still broach social and political issues, always reflecting the pulse of the contemporary Caribbean.

the-mighty-sparrow

In “Happy Birthday to the Calypso King,” as he muses about how Dr. Slinger Francisco earned his name (“Does anyone call him “Slinger” or “Francisco” except his bankers, doctors, or attorneys? And why the “Mighty?” Well I know for sure about the “Mighty.”) Allan Fenty highlights the brilliance, uniqueness, and talent that make this Caribbean icon “tower above many as one who has both entertained us and influenced Guyanese – Caribbean popular – entertainment culture over the past five decades.” Fenty writes, “Like Marley later was to Jamaican reggae, Sparrow personified calypso, then gave it to the world.  Whether in its purest form or its hybrid, soca-version incarnation.”

Allan also speaks of the formative years “the Birdie” and the people who supported the Mighty Sparrow in Guyana, such as Cyril Shaw, James Smartt, Eddie Hooper, Eddy Grant, and Phillip Nichols, as well as his principal songwriter, Trinidadian Winsford “Joker” Devine. It is also interesting to know that details on all the people who have surrounded, influenced, and championed the singer will soon be available in a biographical text. The Mighty Sparrow’s daughter, Karen Francisco, is presently at work, interviewing people in Guyana and throughout the Caribbean for this definitive biography.

For article by Allan Fenty, see http://www.stabroeknews.com/2009/features/07/09/happy-birthday-to-the-calypso-king/

Also see http://www.mightysparrow.com/

Photos from http://www.tapestryofthetimes.org/shows/archive/episode_21.php and http://www.calypso-at-dirty-jims.com/calypso-artists.html

5 thoughts on “Dr. Slinger Francisco, The Mighty Sparrow

  1. I am amaze at how Sparrow have been ble to adapt to all the changes through out the years.
    Truly a talented performer. I listen to Sparrow from when I was a boy in the mid (fiftys) and Iam still listening to Sparrow in the year 2009 that says alot about the man. I am a song writer born in The Caribbean and live in London and I’ve got an up to date modern song for Sparrow, so please do let me know how I can past it on to him. I would’nt waste your time cause I’m not a time waster. long live the
    King.

  2. i have partner from st lucia, but your songs have been most popular, when i play them, it gets us up dancing all the time. x

  3. As a lad growing up in T&T I got to know the “Bird” personally, through many people in that social circle…and having been away from the T&T circle I have come to miss a lot of his works, nevertheless it is really heartwarming to know that this GIANT of an entertainer is still “Alive and Kicking”,to the Bird…I say LONG LIFE, GOOD HEALTH and GOD BLESS….

  4. My great uncle Fedo Blake gaveThe mighty Sparrow an important mention in his book about the history of the steel pan he said of the Mighty Sparrow..
    ‘And finally, I heartilly thank The Mighty Sparrow who, when the task of writing seemed never -ending,provided me with the inspiration, the courage and, the best reason of all..The documentation of The Steel Band’ by The Mighty Sparrow.
    There is not enough space here to write all the verses,but I just want to say if my uncle Fedo was still here he would want to wish the Mighty Sparrow many many happy returns.,so I will say Many Happy Returns to the one and only Mighty Sparrow..God Bless..
    L.blake

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