Delroy “Fireman” Hooper is revelling in his double win at Saturday’s soca monarch competition.
And, he has a word for the younger artiste who feels that he should retire to allow them to blossom.
“They have to sit back and learn,” Fireman said Sunday night during an interview with musician and activist Bryan Alexander, which was posted to Facebook.
Fireman won the Ragga Soca category of Saturday’s competition with the song “Social Media Police”, forcing 2019 winner, Hance John into second place, followed by Utamu “Bongo Prime” Rose.
In the Power Soca category, Fireman unseated 2019 winner, Derron “Magikal” Rouse, who was forced into third position after Keith “Grabba Finesse” Charles, who placed second.
Ahead of and after Saturday’s show, some people called for Fireman to retire, saying that doing so will allow young artiste to emerge.
But Fireman rejected this, saying it is a sure way to kill Vincentian carnival culture.
The artiste said he felt great having won both crowns, a repeat of 2014, when he won both crowns, as well as the Road March and also placed second in that competition.
“I am just such a humble guy… Thanks to all my fans. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the greatest place on Earth and thanks to the people who organise the show, all the artistes, all the people; I can’t start counting everybody.
“I am feeling great. I am feeling really, really great. And I have this one line: fans over fame. I always put fans over fame. Without my fans, I am nobody. I learned to be humble.”
Regarding the calls for him to retired, Fireman said:
“Well, first, retirement age is 65. I ain’t get there yet so I can’t retire. Who will take care of my family?”
He said that while people will talk, Saturday night “was a good example to show the new guys, or the young guys as they call them, that I am still here and I know how to run the show and the people still need a show. So I am doing a show for the people who need a show. The new guys have to learn. They have to sit back and learn.”
The artiste, who won his first soca monarch crown in 1999, said that he learnt from the bands Touch, Blacksand, Hottsand, Resurrection, as well as artistes such as Alston “Becket” Cyrus and Winston Soso.
“There wasn’t any fight down. The young people mean you must move and give them your seat. It’s not like that. If we do that, we are gonna kill the culture, kill the art form, somebody has to steer the ship,” Fireman said.
“Imagine taking me out of carnival or Soca Monarch. We don’t have no bands like that because most people try to run the bands because the new people, or the young people, ‘We want a DJ to play. We want a DJ on a truck.’ When last you had a good lap around town for carnival? You can’t tell because there are no bands and the music starts with the bands.”
He said that a young woman asked him recently why only Fire Empress and Shaunelle McKenzie are singing.
“I said because bands used to make the female artistes. You moved from a back vocal, the females, to a front stage. And I said since there are no more bands, we have no more back vocals, we have no way to train them to become lead vocalists and that’s what’s lacking.”
Fireman said that bands used to be on the road for J’ouvert and they used to launch albums.
“We don’t have that anymore and DJs want to run the show and it can’t happen that way, because music start with the bands.”
Facebook has become the platform of choice for Vincentians to express their opinions on current affairs, including the various VIncymas 2022 competitions.
“Facebook has a lot of intelligent people. Everybody who has a Facebook degree wants to … hide behind Facebook and talk…” Fireman said.
“All I am saying is, we need to fix culture or we will lose culture. We have had bigger Soca Monarch [shows] than this. Now, you have artistes who don’t want to compete, you have artiste who believe they are bigger than the game. All I just want is somewhere to just do culture in the right way and make sure that everything is OK.”
Meanwhile, having already dominated the Soca Monarch competition, Fireman said he could be winning more titles for Vincy Mas 2022, the first since 2019 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said that winning the Road March title is also very likely.
“Normally, when you come out the park victorious, especially on a double, lately, that’s what happens on the road. Whatever comes out the park for soca or depending on your BPM (beat per minute) for your groovy, that’s what normally runs the road.”
In 2014, fireman won the Ragga Soca crown with “Rum Meeting” and the Power Soca title with “Unruly”.
“Unruly” went on to win the Road March title while “Rum Meeting” placed second.
He said that “Bad Demon”, which secured the Power Soca Crown on Saturday, is also in the running to win the Road March title.
Fireman is right. He should stay in the game and show the youths how it’s done. They should produce better material to compete and win. That’s how they can retire him. This also shows that the youths are not ready. So I hope Fireman and other older artists will stay in the game. I’d love to see a VINCY DAY celebration in Canada and the US next year. Several Vincentian artists can perform at these functions. You have Ossie Gurley in Canada and Frankie in NYC who can arrange the music for the artists. This event can replace the VINCY thousand island picnic that is slowly losing some steam.
I am so glad he is exposing the problems the DJ’s are doing to Carnival. If there are no bands, then most youths won’t learn how to play a piano, guitar or saxophone or even a tenor pan. There is still a place for musicians like Brian Alexander and Fuzzy to play in producing music and lyrics for the competition. Both can help to produce music for the road using the idea I am showing on this page on the CARIBANA Website. http://www.caribana.ca/orchestra.php
Pan music is on the decline, but can be revived if my idea is adopted because it uses the DJ background music raise the beat which get folks wining.
Feel free to comment and come up with other ideas. I will place this article on Facebook.
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