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Sometimes we as a small nation take many things for granted, especially when it comes to the music industry. There are so many of our artistes who have brought so much happiness and excitement to our lives, but these memories too quickly fade without giving the recognition these artistes deserve.
Also, we seem to only keep our focus on the established ones, and not the up-and-coming new ones. There are still many new ones who struggle, with little corporate or government assistance given to them in the formative years of their careers when they actually need this assistance most.
A week ago, while in Boston, I attended two concerts at the Berklee College of Music. The first was a Tribute to Disney, where the most popular Disney theme songs were portrayed in performance and sound by a hand-selected few from the college. To my amazement, there on stage were two Trinis, one, the lead vocalist (Adam Corneal) and the other, the only pannist (Marvin).
As a fellow Trini it was a refreshing sight, but more significantly the vocalist and pannist stole the show.
Young Adam Corneal had audience members off their seats, hands in the air, and shouting to his vocal prompts. He certainly brought Disney to life! Corneal transformed and injected a soca flavour into the traditional Disney theme song that touched a vein in his young audience.
Marvin on the pan, on the other hand, ramajayed in a way that was reminiscent of our great Len Boogsie Sharp.
I thought to myself, what extraordinary talented young men, why haven’t I heard of these young men before? Does our country know what they are doing out here, representing our culture so well? Those were questions that resonated with me and my MIT host professor, who invited me to the concert at the Boston Conservatory.
I made it a point to meet both these Trini ambassadors at the end of the concert. I had to ask how did they end up here at the Berklee College of Music, doing what they do so marvelously? Being a professor myself, I am aware of the costs to attend such famous institutions. I had to ask each what is their story. Their stories were well-worth listening to.
Corneal in his excited disposition said he was given assistance by the Ministry of Community Developing, and also the Sport and Culture Fund in TT. He said “it would have been impossible for me to be here were it not for those two organisations; I owe everything to them.”
“I auditioned for Berklee and got in! I first wrote letters to our corporate sector for assistance, but over a two-year period I received over 200 letters of denial. Then I turned to the Government, and they were there for me.”
Both boys perform on Boston street corners, at mini concerts and parties and weddings. Adam is a regular performer at the famous Martha’s Vineyard, a three-hour commute from the Berklee College of Music. He said “it’s worth the (US)$500 that I get from the gig, every little thing helps.”
Marvin’s story was almost identical, playing our national instrument in hallowed halls of the Boston Conservatory and sometimes crowded street corners in Boston. The man with the hammer is pounding his notes on the streets of Boston.
I imposed myself on the boys to attend a second concert, one where Adam’s band, Up 2 no good, performed at their first public concert for their peers. I was stunned to hear Kitchener’s Sugar Bum and Kees Dieffentaller’s Wotless echo through the hallowed halls of the Loft at the Berklee College of Music. More noteworthy was the reaction by the young crowd to our music. Young Corneal had the crowd eating out of his hands.
What a proud moment for a 60-year-old Trini like myself, feeling at home in the cold city of Boston. Adam and Marvin are taking care of our culture in Boston.
While we enjoy Montano and Dieffentaller, and rightfully so, there are others in the wings who we must also acknowledge for what they are doing for our unique culture.
I was taken back by the things that Adam and Marvin had to do to make money to stay in school. I was pleased to hear that the Government was instrumental in providing assistance. Money well spent! I was never more proud to be a Trini.
Thanks Adam and Marvin, keep doing your thing, flying our red, white and black over the Boston skies.
Professor of Chemistry