Covid fells soca parang star Kenny J at 69

A report by Tyrell Gittens for Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday.

Calypsonian Kenwrick “Kenny J” Joseph has become one of this country’s latest covid19 fatalities.

He died on Sunday around 11.30 am at the Augustus Long Hospital where he was hospitalised for several days. He was 69 and would have turned 70 in July.

Joseph is well-known for his string of soca parang hits which include Paintbrush, Alexander and Hush Yuh Mouth.

Joseph’s daughter Jesselle Joseph confirmed his death to Newsday and thanked the hospital’s staff for their efforts. She also confirmed he was vaccinated.

She told Newsday, “My dad was always here for me and here for us. He will be missed dearly.

“The doctors were in contact with me every day, updating me, and letting me know of his progress. They were taking very good care of him and I’m very grateful for that.

“I’m very grateful for all that they would have done to try and keep him around as long as possible.”

Public relations officer of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) Sherma Orr-Watkins told Newsday that Joseph contributed significantly to TT’s cultural landscape.

Watkins said Joseph would most be remembered for his soca parang hits and being an ally of the movement to get local radio stations to play more local music.

She recalled, “He contributed to the art form in a great way because, if you remember, he has one of the most popular songs. He was with us when we marched for 50 per cent local airplay.

“He was a great asset to the calypso fraternity and a prolific (song) writer.”

Soca parang singer Marcia Miranda told Newsday she was devastated by the news as Joseph had called her when he found out he was covid19 positive.

Miranda said she spoke to Joseph every day since his diagnosis.

An emotional Miranda recalled, “I am deeply shocked because he called me the day he found out his status and I have been keeping in touch with him.

“I was trying my best to give him advice and telling him to be strong and positive because he was a strong person.

“He would still give jokes because when he found out his status he said he’s positively positive that I would not be negative.”

She said Joseph would be remembered for his wit, memorable songs, skilled performances and knack for wanting to ensure his audiences left a show feeling better than when they arrived.

“He wrote a lot of those songs and they were so witty. People will be singing it and not even recognising what they singing because it was so funny.

“He bought a lot of wit, lovely music and his presence was appreciated wherever he performed.”

Calling Joseph a pioneer of soca parang, Miranda said Christmas would never be the same without him. She shared what Christmas tradition with him she’ll miss the most.

“I am totally devastated because every Christmas there’s a clique of us that basically goes everywhere together performing and we’ve become like a family.

“We always laughed at Kenny’s jokes, he would love to give jokes. He was a fun and very generous person. In no way was he selfish with his time, talent or even his self, his soul, his personality.

“Christmas would not be the same…it wouldn’t be the same for a while without Kenny in it for everyone.”

President of the Trinidad and Tobago Promoters Association (TTPA) Jerome “Rome” Precilla told Newsday that Joseph was not only his mentor but a friend.

He said the news of Joseph’s death wasn’t only a personal blow but a blow for the entertainment fraternity.

One of Joseph’s last performances was at Precilla’s Parang with Rome event on December 11 at the Naparima Bowl amphitheatre.

Precilla said, “He was a big inspiration to me in terms of my entire career because I grew up listening to his music.

“I always admired the way that he was so creative in his writing which inspire me in my writing as well.

“He always had a stale joke to give. He was always laughing, jovial and making fun of things…he was always a happy, happy person.”

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar hailed Joseph as a “true cultural” icon on Facebook while calypsonian Austin “Superblue” Lyons posted that he was brought to tears with the news of Joseph’s death.

Lyons post continued, “This is how I have to start my New Year with this sad news today.

“Condolences goes out to the family. Fly with the angels until we meet again.”

In a statement on its social media pages, Pan Trinbago said Joseph contributed significantly to TT’s culture and would be remembered for his memorable songs.

Joseph recently teamed up with entertainer Randy Glasgow for an ad to promote covid19 vaccination.

The ad featured the likes of Miranda, Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal, talk-show host Ian Alleyne and comedian Kenneth Supersad.

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