The calypso fraternity, and all Antiguans and Barbudans, are mourning the loss of one of our greats, Charles “Smarty Sr.”
Harvey, who died Sunday afternoon following a two-year battle with prostate cancer.
The 75-year-old, who is also the father of former calypso monarch, King Smarty Jr., passed away at the St. John’s Hospice where he’d been residing for about five months.
Oglivier “Destroyer Sr.” Jacobs, Vernon “Dr. Solo” Benjamin, Joseph “Calypso Joe” Hunte, Eugene “Kaseba” Silcott and Keithroy “De Bear” Morson were among the calypso greats who gathered at his bedside on Sunday to say their final farewells.
Benjamin, who confirmed the passing to OBSERVER media, described Smarty Sr. as a pioneer who dominated the artform in the mid-60s. He said that Smarty Snr. was one of the founding members of the Calypso Pepperpot and the Masters Calypso Review, which both ran for several years.
“His contribution, of course, has gone beyond Antigua. He actually won a competition against several Trinidadians in England and was actually crowned king with one of his greatest hits Don’t hold me,” Benjamin said during an interview on Sunday.
He further stated that Smarty Sr. will be remembered as a very jovial calypsonian, who always encouraged fellow artists to dress their best while performing.
Smarty Sr. began singing calypso in 1966, a year before Jacobs took up the artform.
Jacobs said that his colleague was a regular finalist in the local Calypso Monarch competition, before eventually leaving Antigua for England in 1974.
Silcott also reflected on the life of the senior calypsonian. He explained that “Smarty Sr.” was a humble individual; someone who loved the calypso artform. One of his wishes was for the artform to return to its glory days.”
According to Silcott, the veteran calypsonian
was always present at the tents and other events involving calypso and was also always willing to offer advice to younger musicians.
Meanwhile, Morson posted “Another soldier gone but not forgotten, old Smarty Sr. … rest in peace my brother,” on his Facebook page.
Other social media users also expressed condolences to the family.