Legendary Vincentian-born, Caribbean soca artiste / composer Alston “Becket” Cyrus on Saturday night wowed the huge audience and serenaded mothers at a major concert in Brooklyn.
Becket, renowned as the “ABC of Calypso,” was among a cast of Caribbean artistes and cultural figures at the New York-based Everybody’s Magazine annual “Mother We Love You Concert” at the Walt Whitman Theater, Brooklyn College.
Among others who serenaded mothers and the four honorees at the gala event were Trinidadian Calypso Monarch Chucky Gordon, Lyrikal, Kaci Fennell, Miss Universe Jamaica, Biggie Irie, Delcita, Nikki Crisby and Batingua Dancers.
“Nice to be in New York again; greetings from St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” exclaimed Becket, as Vincentians in the audience proudly hailed back: “Yeah, yeah, yeah!”
“We’re going to stand up and chap for all the mothers all over the world,” Becket asked the crowd – who approvingly, and instantly responded, with a standing ovation – while rendering “Mama”, which partially goes: “Your love like coconut water/it sweet fo so.”
The Vincentian Goodwill Ambassador then struck up “President Obama,” urging the audience to chime in with “Obama, Obama, Obama.” At the end of the song, Becket distributed free CDs to some patrons.
“President Obama” was requested by Herman Hall, the Grenadian-born publisher of Everybody’s Magazine, Becket said.
“President Obama” is one of four new tracks that appear on Becket’s latest CD, “The Singles File” — a mixture of hit singles that were never on an album.
Obviously, “President Obama” is considered one of the better among many songs written in commemoration of Barack Obama becoming the first black president of the United States.
In a world in which there is so much strife, conflict and schism, Becket, a U.S. Army veteran, reminded patrons that “Love is The Answer,” a song that was remade in 2001 featuring post-911 lyrics.
Then, as the audience began winding up, the veteran soca artiste/calypsonian blasted “Coming High” — a 1977 break-out hit that earned him gold.
“We changed the name, and we call it something else,” Becket said.
“What did we call it?” he proceeded to ask, as patrons roared back: “Marijuana.”
Suddenly, some, who were initially hesitant to whine, sprang into action with the monster 1990 hit “Teaser” for which Becket, a year later, received the Record of the Year and Best Party Tune awards, at the first ever Caribbean Music Awards, at the world famous Apollo Theatre in Harlem.
Becket also copped an award from the Trinidad and Tobago Association of Houston, Texas for “Teaser.”
In 1994, Ella Me Vacila, the Spanish version of “Teaser,” earned Becket a BMI Latin Award and a Billboard/Univision Award for the Salsa/Tropical Song of the Year. Cover versions of “Teaser” have been translated into several languages, Becket said.
The dynamic, versatile artiste has had a distinguished 39-odd-year career, producing a record 26 albums; numerous award-winning singles; one movie soundtrack, “Disco Calypso,” in The Deep motion picture; and five compositions, featured in four American TV programs – the sitcom Full House and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno among them. The calypsonian par excellence has also earned eight Road March titles.
Becket — who has performed throughout the Caribbean, Canada, the United States, Spain, England and Columbia — made history in 2000 when he became the first Caribbean artiste to perform at the U.S. Open Tennis Tournament in Flushing Meadows, Queens.
Additionally, he was listed as one of the 17 Outstanding Caribbean Personalities of the 20th Century.
In 1976, Becket began working with calypso and soca’s arranger extraordinaire, Vincentian-born Frankie McIntosh, a union that still exists today.
After striking gold with “Coming High” in 1977, Becket has produced equally successful singles, including “Wine Down Kingstown” (1978); “Cocoa” (1980); “Calypso Noel” (1982); “Ooh La La” (1983); “Teaser” (1990); and “Small Pin” (1999).
Besides “Love is the Answer” and other party tunes, Becket has “creatively penned” several songs related to world events, Caribbean politics and carnival, according to his biography.
These comprise, among others, “Carnival History,” which earned him the 1975 St. Vincent and the Grenadines Calypso Monarch; “Legalize the Grass;” “Human Rights;” “I am an African;” “Hezekiah;” “Oppression;” “Cardo;” “Marie-Anne;” “I Want Soca;” “I Cry;” “Gal Ah Rush Me;” “Say No to Drugs;” “Laramania;” “Rights;” “Bring Back Moses Law;” “Grenada Will Rise Again;” and “Don’t Look Down on ah Man.”
In 2007, when the Caribbean hosted the Cricket World Cup, Becket produced “Cricket is We Ting”, which included 10 original tracks.
“Becket’s performance was fabulous,” Vincentian Oscar James, a singer, songwriter, producer and musician, told Caribbean Life.
“In spite of being in the business so long, he was very energetic,” added James, co-founder of the defunct Vincentian band, Affetuosos, who sat adjacent to a reporter for most of the three-hour-plus long concert. “The crowd reciprocated well to his performance. He still has it in him.”
Ainsley Primus, president of the Brooklyn-based, Vincentian-owned Dynamite Calypso Tent, agreed, stating that Becket out-performed others.
“I think it was a very good performance,” added Primus, who is also president of Level Vibes Promotions in Brooklyn and founder and organizer of the Vincy New Song Competition in New York. “He was better than the Calypso Monarch of Trinidad and Tobago.”
“Becket is an experienced artiste,” he continued. “It was typical Becket with his classic ‘Teaser.’”
The mothers honored were: Guyanese banker Bibi Zoriena Sankar, Grenadian community advocate Gloria Rennie-Murray; and Jamaicans Simone HoSang, an entrepreneur, and Mavis Cameron, a community advocate.