The entertainment community has lost one of its gems.
Charles Romeo Smith, a former calypso monarch, has died at age 71, throwing the fraternity into immediate mourning.
Following a bacterial viral infection and spinal surgery in 2005 doctors had told him he might never walk again. However, Romeo had refused let that stop him from performing up until 2008 and remained supportive of the calypso art form even in the face of physical and health challenges.
Today, Minister of the Creative Economy, Culture and Sports John King, who is himself a former calypso monarch, paid tribute to the outstanding calypsonian and songwriter.
King said Romeo had a wealth of information and always sought to impart important life lessons on upcoming calypsonians.
“In my own career he was there giving me a lot of advice, and also I would spend a lot of time in Queen’s Park for rehearsals. In watching him, I learnt so much,” King said.
“One of the things he always mentioned to me was the importance of how you dress, and anyone who knows Romeo knows that he was always sharp,” he added.
The minister of the Creative Economy, Culture and Sports also indicated today that his ministry, in collaboration with the National Cultural Foundation, would find some way to honour Romeo during the upcoming Crop Over festival.
Meantime, former Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley, in a glowing tribute, described Romeo as a cultural pioneer. Lashley said Romeo would be remembered for his significant contribution to the development and enhancement of the calypso art form in Barbados and beyond.
He hailed Romeo as one of the veterans of his time, while noting the central role he played in the discovery and training of many Barbadian artistes and the profound impact he has had on Crop Over.
The former minister also saluted Romeo as a committed member of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) as he recalled a recent picong he did with The Mighty Gabby in the lead up to the May 24 general election.
“Romeo has left an indelible mark on the history of calypso in Barbados and we applaud his selfless contribution, even during times of personal difficulty.
“On my behalf and that of my family and the entire DLP family, I extend deepest sympathy to his widow Cecily, family and friends,” Lashley said.