Clymax band leader pays tribute to Winston Soso

Winston Soso's performing with Clymax in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2009.
Oris Robinson

Bernard “Bonni” Browne, leader of the defunct, top Vincentian band, Clymax, has added his voice to the glowing tributes to Vincentian Cultural Ambassador, Winston Soso, renowned as the “Rolls Royce of Calypso,” who died on July 18.

Evan Lockhart, Soso’s son, confirmed to Caribbean Life that his dad, the former lead singer of Clymax, died of multiple medical complications at State University of New York (SUNY) Downstate Medical Center and University Hospital of Brooklyn. He died a few days after his 69th birthday.

“Today, as reality seeps in the soul, I pay tribute to another icon of SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines), a man of many talents/skills, who was blessed with a rich melodic tone in his voice — Trevor Lockhart, better known as Winston Soso,” Browne, a Brooklyn resident, told Caribbean Life.

“On behalf of Clymax, formally Volume 5, we celebrate the legacy of this brother, ‘Sos,’” he added. “Special condolences to his mother, sisters, all his children, extended families, friends and fans.

“I wish I could take credit for discovering this treasure when he became a member of the group back in ’69, but ‘Sos’ was already crooning out soulful ballads and R&B songs at shows, while still a teenager, at Lyric Cinema (in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital), with the Slum Mates (later Gratitude), backing up that golden and powerful voice and, almost in the same breath, mesmerizing fans with his athletic skills in the day as a top-notch goalkeeper in soccer,” Browne continued.

He said he became one of Soso’s biggest fans and never missed Avenues United games. Avenues United was one of the top soccer teams in Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Browne said Soso was also an “excellent tailor,” who made band members’ outfits.

“He had that ability to excel that gave us some togetherness and helped raise the level of musicianship,” he said. “We practiced intensely and secured a gig to perform alongside the great Latinaires at the then popular Ricks Disco. We opened our set with ‘Sos’ singing ‘Wild Flower’, a ballad that had just hit the charts, not yet popular at home.

“l will never forget that performance,” Browne added. “He was motivated as he made that song his own, delivered a soulful articulated rendition. The crowd responded with loud applause. We had to repeat it.

“This set the mood, as we broke into our repertoire, played with confidence, as the crowd dance/feted the night away, with a double treat — us with Latinaires to cap it off,” he continued.

Browne said Soso was dubbed the “Rolls Royce of Calypso” by the late popular Vincentian radio and television broadcaster, Ferrand “Randy D” Dopwell.

Browne said Clymax recorded many hits, with Soso as lead vocalist, included the hit R&B/funk “Musicland” and “Dianne” — “another big hit here in US-Caribbean circuit and in T+T (Trinidad and Tobago).”

Early in the 1980’s, Browne said Soso embarked on a solo career, linking up later with prominent, Vincentian-born musical arranger, Frankie McIntosh.

“As it’s been said, ‘the rest is history’ — a merger that produced the mega hit ‘I don’t Mind,’” Browne said.

When the occasion arose, he said Soso and Clymax “displayed some memorable reunions,” such as the Vincy fundraiser for Haiti after the 2010 massive earthquake; the homecoming reunion for the 2009 Vincentian independence anniversary; a tour to Toronto, Canada for Caribana 2010; and a trip to Aruba Carnival in 1978.

“Winston put up a valiant fight when he was diagnosed with several health challenges,” Browne said. “I can testify to his journey and time spent with us. He never smoked nor drank alcohol. He was very disciplined, constantly working on his craft/skills be it soccer, sewing or his vocals.

“You can hear him singing along to songs on the radio or cassette back in the early days, when you walk by his residence, as the window was open,” he added. “All praises to the Almighty for giving his mother courage and strength, allowing her to give birth to share this unique outstanding son of our soil, Hairouna, with us all.”

Top Vincentian calypsonian and fellow Cultural Ambassador Alston “Becket” Cyrus, renowned as the “ABC of Calypso,” also told Caribbean Life that Soso was “one of the top soca artistes in the world.”

He said Soso, also a former national football (soccer) goalkeeper in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, was the composer and performer of his signature “I Doh Mind,” “one of the greatest soca hits of all time.”

Becket noted that Soso had many other big hits, including “How Some Men Love Dey Women”, also called “Big Bottom”; “Ah Feel to Party Tonight”; “Rude Girl Posse”; “Come Ley We Go in The Back and Fool Around”; “Congratulations”; “Don’t Throw Stones”; and “Too Much Corruption.”

Soso was made a goodwill, cultural ambassador by the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in November 2014, Becket said.

He said Soso was “an outstanding member” of the Clymax band for which “he penned and voiced the mega hit, ‘Dianne.’”

Evan, said he was “the only one at home taking care of him (Soso),” adding that he saw his dad “battle kidney failure, prostate cancer, multiple heart attacks and respiratory failure.

“The cards were dealt against him,” Evan said. “I felt I had to watch a final war that I knew he will never win.”

Funeral arrangements for Soso are still yet to be finalized.

More from Around NYC