The “Ugly Man” is back! Christened MacDonald Leo Blenman, Grynner returns this year to season Crop Over with a spice he says has long been missing – quality.
In an interview with Bajan Vibes yesterday, the people’s Road March King said gone were the days when artistes would begin preparing and producing their music from the Christmas prior to the start of the season. Now every track, he lamented, was “fast food”.
Grynner declared he had returned to Crop Over to bring back the old-time calypso style – “the type that has substance”, he said passionately.
“I could take five minutes too to write a song, [but] at the end of the day it ain’t going last; and that is what Eddie Grant [taught] me – and Gabby. He used to say, ‘Gabberts, these songs ain’t to beat nobody. These songs to last the next 25 years.’ This is the type of songs that I coming with this year; the songs like they used to make yesteryear.
“This is the problem we having now. Everything too fast – fast writing, fast beat, fast recording,” the veteran kaisonian said.
Grynner added: “I’ve come a long knowing that calypso is a story, and not just words that you put together and go out there and keep noise. I remember, when I was a little boy, there was a song named The Donkey Want Water, and I would be in the yard dancing for a penny, and the people cheering me on. So that was always in me.
“When you hear the songs now, you hearing a one line, and then two . . . . At the end of the day, and you really listen, it doesn’t have a story. All it is is wuk up on this body, do she so, slap she here . . . . That ain’t calypso.”
Grynner first sprang on to the scene in 1968, when as a fresh-faced youngster from Free Hill, Black Rock in St Michael, he shocked many by placing third behind the very popular Gabby and Romeo in the Barbados Independence King Competition. After that event, he just kept going.
He became the second Crop Over king after the calypso segment was first introduced to the Crop Over Festival in 1975. With hits like Mr T, We Want More, Grynner, Stinging Bees, Suzy From The Country, Leggo I Hand and Zouk Me, he went on to win the Road March title a record seven times – in 1983, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1998.
In 1998, Grynner placed second behind Lil Rick for the Party Monarch title.
The Grynner that the majority of Barbados and many other places around the world have come to love and appreciate is the same Grynner who will be back again this year, the 68-year-old has vowed. He says he will be entering both the Party Monarch and Sweet Soca competitions. His two offerings this year are My Car and Crop Over Train, the latter an ode to the 40th anniversary of the national festival.
He is also set to perform with the Cave Shepherd All Stars calypso tent, but Grynner told Bajan Vibes he expected to be at every “cockfight”, so to speak.
“Right now, I feel like I am about 15-years-old. There is only one Grynner. It is the same Grynner you see since I did Mr T, and this is the real Grynner – the one that will be coming good this year.
“I could never get tired of this thing; this is what I love. Once you like something, you never get tired of it. So I hope to be at everything. Look out for me. Grynner will be good,” the calypsonian assured his fans.