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Mighty Sparrow hospitalized

Mighty Sparrow hospitalized

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Tue Sep 10, 2013

Editor: Slinger Francisco, the Mighty Sparrow, calypso king of the world, is seriously ill and is hospitalized in a New York institution. The Express newspaper of Trinidad and Tobago originally carried the report, which was published in other newspapers in the region.{{more}}

The 78-year-old Birdie, who was awarded honorary citizenship of St Vincent and the Grenadines in April 1989, after he entertained a mammoth crowd at a fund-raising function organized by the Rotary Club of St Vincent, was born in Grenada, but grew up in Trinidad and Tobago where he was crowned calypso monarch on 11 occasions and copped the Road March top prize eight times.

There is no doubt that Sparrow is the greatest calypsonian/entertainer in the region, and is the recipient of many awards, including the highest Caribbean Community accolade, the Order of the Caribbean Community (OCC), awarded mainly to former heads of government and distinguished luminaries. He also received an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies. The Trinidad and Tobago Consulate in New York bestowed a lifetime award and because of his illness, he was unable to personally receive the plaque, but his son, Richard Francisco, represented him.

He was given the name Sparrow, because he pranced whenever he sang and was told that he moved around on the stage like a sparrow. He started to sing since he was 14 and had dozens of hits. The first was “Jean and Dinah” in 1956, followed by in 1960 “Mae Mae”, “Ten to One is Murder”, “Royal Jail”, etc. His “Crown Heights Justice”, in which he pleaded for peace in the wake of the 1991 Crown Heights Riot, was a tremendous hit.

I had the opportunity of interviewing Sparrow on several occasions in Guyana, Trinidad, Montserrat, and the last occasion in Fort Lauderdale, six years ago, when he was guest of honour at an independence day anniversary celebration, organized by the Grenada Association in South Florida.

He is indeed a Caribbean man and a strong advocate for Caribbean unity.

Our prayers go out to him for a speedy recovery.

Oscar Ramjeet

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