by Latoya Burnham
After travelling and writing in excess of 30 songs in the last four months alone, veteran calypsonian and former nine-time monarch Gabby is sitting it out this Crop-Over.
While he has already performed at several functions recently, three in one night over the weekend, Gabby told Barbados TODAY that he made the decision about two weeks ago that he would participate in the festival from a different stand point this year — the tip of his pen.
“My spirit ain’t there. I’ve put a lot of energy in the last year, and particularly the last couple of months into writing. I can’t take on a show at my level now,” he explained, adding that preparation for competition took time, energy and dedicated focus to specific material.
The First Citizens/Digicel De Big Show, had released a statement earlier today to say that Gabby would not be a part of the regular line-up for the tent this season, quoting the calypsonian as stating: “I did not want to just sing something. I have always set a very high standard for myself and I wasn’t prepared at that level, so I have decided to sit it out.”
The tent had opened on Sunday minus Gabby, but ads still had the talented singer and songwriter listed in the line-up for this Sunday at The Plantation.
While acknowledging that Gabby was now out, tent manager John King however said they had not ruled out the possibility of an appearance by Gabby “later in the season”, adding that he understood “tremendous pressure” Gabby faced every year, with so many seeking his writing skills.
“Sometimes you just have to take a break and recharge yourself,” King said. “I wish Gabberts a good rest and I know he will come back blazing, as always.” He added that the strength of the First Citizens/Digicel De Big Show was that its cast was one of “many performers with stellar track records”.
Gabby himself told Barbados TODAY that yes, he probably would make an appearance at a later date, though he could not say when that would be; but he explained that he was simply not mentally prepared for what serious competition would involve this year.
“I’m not singing in the tent, maybe later down… If I had to perform my old songs it would not be a problem, but I know I don’t have the energy for the competition this year and if I did the competition I would want to be really prepared,” he said.
He added: “I’ve written so many songs I can’t remember all, but let me tell you… in the last four months I have written about 34 songs. I wrote nine for In The Castle of My Skin; I wrote one of UWI graduation; I wrote a song about PetroCaribe; I wrote six for juniors but only three I think got in; I wrote three for Ras Iley; I wrote songs for Biggie Irie, Blood, TC… for a calypsonian from St. Vincent and there are so many more.”
Asked when he took the decision that he would sit out this year, Gabby said: “I came back from Washington and New York about two weeks ago and I knew then. I had no rest, no sleep and I knew. In the last couple months I’ve had three functions in my honour and I have to thank the countries of the United States, Cuba and Venezuela because they organised these tributes without even consulting each other, but I was pleasantly surprised and very grateful for the honour.”
Gabby said after he returned from the last tribute in New York, he did not sleep for two days, still working on material for other singers, but added that he would still assist anyone that needed it at this stage. He said he was trying as well to get rest where he could.
“After 34 songs, I don’t know how much more I could do,” he said with a tired chuckle, “but if anyone comes I will not turn them away. I would try my best to assist, to help them.”
“I especially am grateful to the people who supported the cricket match for Keana Banfield because her medical bills are like $300,000 and any little thing I can also do to help her I will.”
Various professionals, including entertainers, and politicians came together over the weekend at Wanderers Cricket Ground to host a charity celebrity match for charity to aid Banfield who is in a Miami hospital receiving treatment for Acute toxic shock syndrome. [email protected]