He is here!
The Mighty Sparrow, real name Slinger Francisco, touched down this morning, from the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, on board a Caribbean Airlines flight, just minutes before 9 a.m.
As he was being wheeled from the aircraft, which bore the old livery of what was Air Jamaica, the 77-year-old crooner, the undisputed Calypso King Of The World, stopped, got up, and with the aid of his cane, stood up, stepped forward to greet Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Stephen Lashley.
“I ready for action,” he said as he shook hands with the minister. “I am so glad to be back here.”
The Birdie, as he is also affably known, is in Barbados for what has been billed by many as a once-in-a-lifetime show, Sparrow In Concert, to be held on Friday at the Wildey Gymnasium.
Plagued with a series of medical woes, among them diabetes, Sparrow had been hospitalized last year after falling ill on board a flight from Connecticut in the United States to Piarco, Trinidad.
The calypso icon, who has had sung several hits, including Jean And Dinah, Education, Lying Excuses, Congo Man and 10 To 1, also in 2013 was forced to cancel a number of shows after complaining of feeling unwell.
But this morning, after being also greeted by the show’s organizer Eleanor Rice-Watkins, local calypso doyen Anthony Gabby Carter and the cultural officials, Sparrow, who holds his conntry’s highest honour, the Order Of Trinidad And Tobago, declared that he was in fighting spirit and ready.
“I will sing quite a lot of my songs. Eleanor has brought my arranger here with me, Mr Errol Ince, the most important [man]. He has brought all the music; he is going to conduct the band in addition to playing trumpet with them.
“So we know that we are going to have beautiful music. The Mighty Sparrow is going to give you from day one, which is Jean And Dinah and Yankees gone and sparrow take over now, right up to what is happening right now,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Culture has described Sparrow’s presence in Barbados as an “act of the Almighty”, given his recent bouts with illness.
“I can tell him that all of Barbados was praying for his recovery. There for his being able to come to Barbados and perform is something we have been holding our breath waiting for. The Mighty Sparrow is a world phenomenal performer.
“He has excelled in every facet of calypso and he is known the world over. To have [him] in Barbados performing has always been an inspiration. He has been able to grace the stage with the majesty that we know only the Mighty Sparrow can,” Lashley said.