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   the king ellie matt   




    When did you begin your career as a calypsonian for camivai?
    In 1971 on the birth of National Carnival, I was Influenced by joey Lewis of Trinidad and Tobago. My feelings were, if we were having National Carnival, It would be wise to use our own material and play our own songs - hence the song, “Play You Mass All Over Town for Carnival ‘71’. That was my first official composition and my own original song to coincide with National Carnival. Prior to that, I sang with my band. They used to call me “Local Cipher” then, but my stage name was Dr. Banilito Cubano - the Cuban barrel. My belly was big then, maybe it still is, but.... my mother always had a little Cuban barrel, so that’s how I got my stage name then.


    What prompted you to enter the calypso competition?
    My 1971 hit tune was designed to be road march. I was surprised to learn that I had to be a registered calypsonian to win. The same thing happened in l972 with my tunes “LeggoMe jacket” and “Drunken Mass”. In 1973 I was really confident, and I decided if I had to compete, I will have to win the crown as well. If you know your history, you will realize that is exactly what happened. I won the calypso and road march titles.


    What are your best years in carnival?
    All the years when I won. 1973 with “Talk Of De Town”, ’74 I won the crown again and should have captured the road march title as well with “Going Down Fort Street Like You Crazy”, but they said then “You cannot give everything to one man.” That was Southwell’s idea. ‘75 1 did not compete nor did record but between ‘76 - ‘79, I won every year the road march; four years consecutively. I am the only man to win three crowns in a row and four road march tunes in a row. I won the crown in 1980, ‘81 and ‘82. However, 1978 stands out for me. I won everything. “Annie Bumbsy”, “Sugar City jam” -The band was sharp. We recorded “Top of the World” We won Band 0’ Rama. All over the world we were the best “Ellie Matt and the GI’s Brass”. That 1978 was a bumper year for me.


    What was your most hurtful period in kaiso?
    1975 was the first time I tasted defeat, and It was not a nice taste at all. There was a very strong feeling of resentment because of my success as a musician. I am very sensitive and became hurt that day when I realize life was not that pretty.


    What really happened?
    The Incident started when we had to release two popular New Towners from the band. New Towners could not understand the reason for the decision, but It was a collective decision taken by band members and close fans of the band. The ground swell of resentment really peaked on Calypso Final night and I lost to King Sweeney.


    You never appeared on the stage that night when the positions were announced. Why?
    Simple. The fact is I do not eat until after competition and after singing my last song, I left the park to go home to eat. When I returned, I was sitting In Larry Byron’s car trying to get through when I heard I was first runner-up. I really tried to get through the multitude of people who were coming out. Some were disgusted and some were happy with the decision. It was raining that night, and then the band decided they were not going to remain on the stage and get shocked by electricity. My brother, Keithley, already had been shocked, and so Mic (Heyliger) and the others decided to pack up. I was not even there. No man on earth could judge me, only God, for that night I was returning to the stage but the pressing crowd, some of whom did not even see me, kept me back.


    However, didn’t a similar pattern developed over the years?
    Maybe by conceit, because I am a conceited man. If you are not, you will not succeed. You see, when Mallet won the crown, they burnt down the stage. The calypso crowd was becoming more supportive and segregated - Cayon supporters for Cayon; Sandy Pointers for Sandy Point; Village supporters for Village; and Newtowners for Newtown. It was then that the committee adopted a policy to stop announcing the winner on the night of the competition, because the crowd was behaving too violent. In 1978, they reverted to announdng the king right after the show, but it shows the committee varies from time to time. So there is no law that says if a man does not win, or even if he wins, he has to appear. It would be nice, but I never wanted to stick with traditions, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is not indicative of the way I accept victory or defeat or of my sportsmanship, but I will tell you now, I do not go into anything to lose. I hate to lose.


    How do you rate calypso in St. Kltts?
    There have been improvements from time to time. There are very few geniuses among us in the field of calypso, but some of us have accomplished standards. To me though, the music has deteriorated over the years. The past three years have shown some improvements. We have qualified musicians - Ian Hodge, Gairy Knight who know music and calypso, and they have helped.





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