By La Shawna Griffith
Veteran entertainer and nine-time Pic-O-De-Crop champion Anthony The Mighty Gabby Carter was celebrated by his family and friends, marking his 71st birthday in fine style at an event organized by the Pan African Coalition of Organizations in his honour at Dre’s Bar and Restaurant, Pelican Village on Saturday.
Gabby’s longtime friend for over 60 years, Richard ‘Dick’ Stoute, told the audience that the he was gifted with writing songs and melodies and told the audience that he remembers watching Gabby wrote a song in five minutes.
“You are looking at a genius and there are no two ways about that. I sat in his house one day waiting for a meeting with other calypsonians in his tent and he got a call from the late Byron Lee from Jamaica who had asked him to write a song for him. Lee asked him, ‘How long it would take to write the song?’ and Gabby said, ‘Call me back in 10 minutes’. He said to pass the guitar and I passed the guitar for him and he started to strum this song and he called back Lee and said the song finished,” he said.
However, Stoute said that the local entertainment industry leaves a lot to be desired as Barbadians still do not support local entertainers but would support other regional and international acts.
“We find it difficult to fill an auditorium in Barbados with Barbadian entertainers [performing], and if someone comes from Timbuktu it is full but if he [Gabby] puts on a show for $50 it is a problem. We need to move away from that.”
Stoute argued that local entertainers who have redefined the cultural landscape in the way that Gabby has should be given their dues before they leave the earth.
“We need to appreciate people when they are alive and give them their kudos when they are alive and hear and accept them. When I went to Sir Don funeral, I heard things about him that I never heard in my life. We must give the Barbadian local entertainers what they deserve when they can hear them,” he said.
“If tourism is our main industry than entertainment has to be the top of developing the industry. We cannot have a tourist industry without entertainment.”
Gabby said he was deeply inspired by Robert Bobby Clarke and he would never be able to repay him for all that he would have learned about black consciousness.
“I could never afford to pay Bobby. I love this man because he is who taught me to be conscious about our people about what we represent our past and our history, the slave trade and our connection with our people with Latin America and Africa. It is through Bobby that I got really interested in Cuba,” he said.
Gabby also entertained the audience as he sang his controversial song Boots to which members of the audience sang along word for word.
Gabby was serenaded by Sonny Meraki who sang a powerful acappella rendition of Emmerton. He was also treated to two songs by Charles Odel – Healing in the Land and Africa. He was also entertained by Winston Farrell who did a powerful rhythm poem entitled Black Knight which he said was fitting for Gabby.
Also celebrating with Gabby were Film Commissioner Annette Nias, Director of Barbados Cultural Industries Development Authority Andrea King, The Mighty Grynner, Indra, and Argentinian Ambassador to Barbados Gustavo Martinez Pandiani.
The members of the audience toasted to Gabby and wished him more health and prosperity as he continues to make his mark as a cultural icon in the world. (LG)