Sleep in power, Ricardo Robert Barriteau Drue

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They came from all walks of life, and from all corners of the Caribbean. They tuned in by the hundreds to be a part of a most moving homegoing service for our dearest Ricardo Drue – the iconic entertainer who burst on the stage with a style, and a voice, and a presence all his own, and left us too soon – December 12, 2023. Way too soon, at the tender age of 38 years.

Though small in stature, his imagination, his command of the stage, his grasp of the enraptured audience was larger than life. He had a smooth, charming and charismatic personality that drew people to him, and he never let them go. Indeed, part of his magic was that his listeners felt that he was singing about their very own experiences – his songs were real, and folks felt that they could identify with that which he was crooning. From ID, Vagabond, Professional, Tornado, Toxic Love, I Got You, Ven Pa’ Ca, BET, No F’s To Give, Jumbie Walk, Homesick, and Ah Love It Here, to Hide And Seek, Wifi, Last One Standing, It takes Two, Happy Music, This Feeling, Another Level, and No Boring Gyal, Drue skillfully captured our sentiments and our emotions.

In a facebook post, some ten years ago, he wrote: Hello my name is Ricardo Drue and I’m a socaholic. SOCA. – one of the most infectious pieces of music around the world, this rhythmic sound has captured the hearts of millions with its sweet combination of calypso and soul. Why is it so addictive? The essence of soca resonates way past our inner consciousness, bringing to life a colourful creature that creates an epidemic known as SOCAHOLISM. Socaholism has touched parts of us so deep, its energy and presence undeniable, it captivates our bodies, our minds, our souls, forcing us to groove, to move, this colourful creature- sleepless from sunrise to sunset like addicts. Soca is the drug…the blood of soca runs through our veins, the fire in our eyes, it’s who I am – ” it’s soca or die” – I am a socaholic! Again, Drue was speaking for most of us. Seemed, once we heard that thumping bass line, the frenetic rhythm, the wailing voices that sometimes seemed angry and caustic, as well as insistent, we were hooked. Many will readily admit that they were addicted to Drue’s lyricism and style, his boundless energy.

This writer was fortunate to have met Ricardo’s dear mom, Nicola Barriteau, when she was but a teenager on Dickinson Bay Street, in the early 1980’s. Later, we met again in New York when she was going to college. I found her to be a most beautiful young lady, quite charming, with a good sense of humour and a sharp intellect. It was therefore no surprise that her son, a chip off the ol’ block, grew up to display many of her most endearing qualities. It is not difficult to imagine the enormous grief that she must be going through with this untimely loss of her Ricardo, who looked exactly like her, by the way. We feel her enormous pain and grief, and will be surrounding her with all our love and support. We are grateful that she lent him to us, albeit, for a brief, shining moment. Be comforted, Nicola.

On yesterday’s VOICE OF THE PEOPLE broadcast, we played VAGABOND in honour of the life and legacy of Ricardo Drue. A faithful listener, and a huge Ricardo Drue fan, Rosie Abbott, quickly called us to say that one of his best compositions is ID (Stamp Yuh Name). We gave her recommendation another listen, and we have found that that song captures, in a rather sad, poignant way, what we are now experiencing with Ricardo’s departure to the Great Beyond. Here are some of the lines from ID: “Leh we make history” . . . “We go fete from right now ‘til December” (he left us in December) . . . “Let’s do something to remember” . . .  “A life to remember” “Long after we gone, we name will live on” (Sigh) “Right now, stamp your name, leh we make history” . . . “We go stamp we footprint” . . . “Leh dem know we was here.” Indeed!

Our dearly-beloved Ricardo Drue has transitioned to the great celestial choir. He will be striking up the band. Of course, his life and outstanding legacy will live-on in his clever lyrics, his intoxicating performances, his amazing discography. He has made history, and his name will never be forgotten, indeed, he has stamped it and his footprints on the sands of time. From age to age, the generations will know that he was here.

Rest well, Ricardo. We love ye!

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