by Donna Sealy
When Wayne Whitehall hits the stage on Sunday and sings for the Pic-O-De-Crop judges, he hopes his songs, his delivery and the every thing else will be on target.
A member of the Kingdom of Super Gladiators calypso tent, he is ready to perform his social commentaries, Give Him a Share and Barbados Unite at the Waterford, St. Michael venue
For the calypsonian, this medium is necessary to bring the issues of the day to the fore.
“I used to like to hear the stalwarts sing. I liked the social commentary they used to bring and I said to myself that I could do this and have something to say concerning the country,” On Target said.
That was 30 years ago and after entering the arena in North Torpedoes, he moved on to Conquerors staying with the St. Philip based tent from 1984 until 1987 and although he has been away from the stage for 19 years, he feels comfortable on his return.
Gwendolyn, Master Plan, All Fool’s Day, Festival and International Year of the Peace, are among his popular songs.
“My last recording is Telephone Man which was sponsored by the telephone company. … Roy Byer and a couple of guys who knew I was doing well asked me to return in 1994 and I did. I stayed with them that year and then I’m now returning in 2013.
“I wasn’t happy with the way social commentary was dying out and most of the guys who were singing commentary went into the party but I think it has to do with the dollar. People were trying to improve themselves and looking to where the money is but I thought I would still try to bring a couple of the social commentaries together. So I decided to come back to play my part in the social section and try to rebuild the commentary that is dying.
“It is not like before, A lot of the guys are not singing the commentary and you’re getting the information out that we need to get out in society … things that are happening in the society, political and social issues, things that are happening but gets forgotten and need to get highlighted on a regular basis,” On Target said.
In between the long break, he visited the tents “to observe what was going on” He said the financial aspect of having his songs arranged, was also a factor as was family and other commitments.
“I decided too that even though it’s pretty tough in these economic times I really wanted to play a part so I decided to save a couple dollars in between, whenever I could, to make it this time around. I’m very happy and I think I have two strong selections – Give Him A Share, a tribute to Romeo, and a nation building song named Barbados Unite. This song (the latter) is trying to get all parties to come together and get this country going again. We have problems but we can’t just pull aside and split, we have to come together and decide to work together.
“Now, Trinidad is making some in roads in Barbados economically, they have a lot of institutions that they can call their own and we’re losing ground so I need to just remind our people that it is not an end we can still gather what is left and make use of it. I also mentioned in that song that cane sugar is no longer with us and fish is not our own. I don’t want our people to get despondent, there’s still a way out. These songs were co-written, the writers want to stay anonymous but I played a part in them,” he stated.
His performance on opening night was great, he recalled and the calypsonian noted that he felt right at home. He also feels that based on the strength of his material he could be among the 18 semi-finalists and also among the ten finalists this year.
He also said that the people had to come to the tent to hear his songs because while he has plans to record them he has not done so yet.
“I got a lot of kudos for Give Him a Share and to me Barbados Unite is a much stronger song. The only that would have affected me (on opening night) was the songs were new and I didn’t get them together early so I would have made a few blunders and staggers but I have covered them by doing some strong rehearsals not with the tent but going around and singing my song around the house and when I’m at work so it comes easy now.
“Barbados Unite is a very long song, it has a lot of lyrics and it mentions our heroes … people we want people to look up to and remember. They fought for us and we should follow on from what they did. I don’t care what anybody says agriculture is a very important aspect of out life and without it we are not going to survive and that’s why I have verse, which was mainly written by me,” he added.
Where did the moniker come from?
“I made it up. I said if I’m going to sing calypso, I want to be bang on, I always want to be singing something that makes sense not doing it just willy-nilly. I said ‘on target’ that song is on target, the moves should be on target, so I just moved with the name. Don’t mind that when I’m out of season the folks call me off-target,” he said with a laugh.
“…The chances of me going to the semi-finals and the finals are greater now that [Red Plastic] Bag and Gabby are out but at the same time those guys have made a name. So with them out, it gives the other guys who’ve been trying for a long time to prove themselves and I am one of those guys. I’m ready for Sunday,” On Target said.