News of the sudden death of twice crowned Calypso Monarch of Antigua and Barbuda, Tyrone “Edimelo” Thomas reverberated throughout the twin island early Friday afternoon, and left residents reeling in shock.
The popular entertainer, who won the coveted title in 2006 and 2013, was a founding member and lead singer of the Vision Band, later rebranded as Vision 2000, before he entered the calypso competition, which is one of the highlights of the country’s annual Carnival celebration.
According to reports, Thomas was found unresponsive in his Friars Hill Road office earlier in the day, and after attempts to resuscitate him failed, he was pronounced dead after he was transported to Mount St John’s Medical Centre.
Minister of National Festivals, Culture and the Arts, Daryll Matthew told Observer that arrangements will be made, in due course, to recognise the late calypso monarch’s contribution to the cultural landscape.
“I was absolutely stunned to learn of the passing of Edimelo. We spoke on WhatsApp last night and he shared with me some of his thoughts on what we should do regarding Carnival. He was one of persons who fought vigorously on behalf of the artform, and will be remembered for his passion, drive and commitment,” Matthew said.
He added that Thomas, in 2019, pioneered the “Best of the Rest” show so that calypsonians who failed to make the finals of the monarch competition would be able to compete before Carnival ended. The show was a success, and Thomas was adamant that it would become a fixture so that the calypsonians who didn’t make the cut would get a chance to continue to showcase their talents.
“He deserves all the recognition which will be bestowed upon him in due course … at the appropriate time his contribution to the artform and to Antigua and Barbuda and culture, will be duly recognised,” Matthew said.
The Political Leader of the United Progressive Party, Harold Lovell, also paid tribute to the deceased, as he shared that he was still unsettled by the shocking news.
“His affable and jovial manner made him a popular person, naturally. He endeared himself further to his many fans with his melodious and smooth voice. With equal ease he could do Frank Sinatra, Bunny Rugs, or Lionel Richie,” Lovell said.
“I will always remember his 1994 album which was full of amazing compositions. My favourite was his tribute to Nelson Mandela who had recently been elected President of South Africa. His conscious lyrics gave us pride and made us think.
“To his family, I extend my deepest sympathy.”
Meantime, legendary calypsonian Sir McLean “King Short Shirt” Emmanuel, who said he knew Thomas as a child, expressed condolences to Thomas’s family, friends, and the music fraternity near and far, and told Observer that Thomas was a great entertainer.
“I think that we lost a good man, a good entertainer, and a great performer,” he said. “I had two calls from Trinidad, one from Leston Paul, and I passed on their message that he would rest in peace,” Sir McLean said. The Chairman of the Calypso Committee, Dion Simmons said that although Thomas was not an active competing calypsonian, he was instrumental in offering feedback and recommendations over the years. Simmons said he will remember Thomas for his enthusiasm for the artform