Andrew Richardson of St Martin is the brainchild of the current Quarantine Extempo Challenge, which has gone viral on social media.
Not only has it taken over Barbados and other Caribbean territories but the world as well. Those who participate provide positive inspirational messages giving mankind hope for dealing with our trials and tribulations during this COVID-19 pandemic.
Andrew is a calypsonian who performs under the stage name His Majesty Baker Jr. His father was the first generation calypsonian who goes by the stage name of The Mighty Baker. This is how Baker Jr gained his passion for calypso, by watching his father compose and perform during the carnival season.
In an exclusive interview with Bajan Vibes, Baker Jr explained how the idea for the challenge came about.
“I was following the COVID news, but I was also in my studio recording in between because I am working on a golden album. I was online, and I saw Tyler Perry doing the He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands Challenge. I said to myself that is really nice. I told my sister let us do one in the Caribbean. I didn’t think I had to be famous like Tyler Perry. I just believe when you do something you do it from the heart.
“I wanted to take that song and put it to a calypso beat. She said no, why don’t we do we own thing. When she told me that, it actually put me to think. I said I rather push our culture than their culture. Their culture is already on the map. I said let’s use calypso, it is the messenger of all genres of music. I don’t think we get our true recognition where calypso is concerned. So I said we could spread the message through this kaiso extempo challenge,” he explained.
But while it was his idea, Baker Jr is swift to credit our own Ian Webster for fuelling the fire and propelling the idea. He said he had the privilege of working with Ian while arranging one of Baker Jr’s songs.
“My first challenge I sent to my cousin, then my sister, then my daughter. I then sent it to Brian London in Trinidad and Tobago, then to Ian Webster in Barbados and Crystal Cummins-Beckles as well. Ian was very, very instrumental. He is the one who pushed it and got it out there. It takes somebody to start a fire and to blaze a fire. He has that experience when it comes to marketing. He has a degree in that, so Ian has the skills and attributes to make things happen. In Barbados, I see calypsonians doing it, ministers doing it… it doesn’t matter.”
Baker Jr first took the stage at ten years old with his first self-penned song entitled Jasmine and Jean Jean. He has been competing for the past 30 years and is a former two-time Road March King. His biggest accomplishment to date is winning the Nevis Culturama King of Kings on August 2, 2018. He is still reigning king.
The 47-year-old has a deep passion for Caribbean culture and the kaiso art-form. “My goal is to make calypso stand and shine above all other music. I want it to get its rightful place in the States, all over the world. Hollywood, Grammy’s, whatever. I want it to surpass R&B and rap cause there is a positive message in calypso. I see calypso uniting the Caribbean and the world. You can glorify God in a calypso…”
He said apart from his dad, Trinidadian Baron is his idol. However, he said he also grew up listening to Dr The Most Honourable Anthony Gabby Carter.
Baker Jr also performs with The Revolution Band International in the US. He also composes, facilitates and arranges songs. His greatest passion to this day is his yearly involvement on the British Island of Anguilla during their carnival facilitating the junior calypso camp and he occasionally teaches a calypso class at numerous schools in St. Martin.
“I facilitate the Junior Calypso Camp in Anguilla. I teach them calypso, and I’ve been doing it for the past seven years. When the schools want someone, I am the first person my cousin calls. I have a foundation I am working on where I want to open a facilitation school on vocals. I’d also like to collaborate with my idol Baron.”
The advice he gives to his charges and anyone with a keen interest in the artform is simple: “Know the roots of where it all began, where it started from. Nowadays, people are mixing it up and singing it the wrong way – ‘jump in the garbage, jump in the water, jump in the sea’. Learn the calypso art form and learn how to compose. Stick to principles of the art form. Listen to the older guys. Go back to Sparrow, Kitchener and Gabby and start from there.” (IMC)
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