Leading artists pay tribute to veteran Vincy broadcaster Randy D

File photo of Ferrand "Randy D" Dopwell as he shows off his outfit, depicting the national colors of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, while delivering the keynote address, at the SVGOP's annual Independence Dinner and Ball in Philadelphia in November 2017.
Photo by Nelson A. King

A pall has been cast over the broadcasting scene in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and its Diaspora as leading artists and cultural figures, among others, pay tribute to popular, veteran radio and television broadcaster Ferrand “Randy D” Dopwell, who died on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, at his family home in Kingstown Hill, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Randy D succumbed to prostate cancer, his cousins, Fern and Dawn Dopwell, Brooklyn residents, told Caribbean Life. He was 69.

“We lost a true Vincentian patriot and a broadcasting icon in veteran radio broadcaster and TV host of the entertainment program, ‘Vibes Caribbean’”, veteran Vincentian calypsonian Alston Becket Cyrus, renowned as the ABC of Calypso, told Caribbean Life. “He was also a fantastic MC, one of the best I ever worked with. He made ‘MC-ing’ look so easy.

“Randy was a pioneer and made a tremendous contribution to the promotion of SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and Caribbean culture, via radio and television, at home and abroad,” added the former perennial Calypso Monarch in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, stating that Randy D last worked on the “Nite Riders” shift on NICE Radio (in St. Vincent and the Grenadines), and was a founding member and manager of the local Graduates Calypso Tent.

“Of his many outstanding attributes, the one I will always remember is that he gave everyone a chance,” Becket continued. “Every recording artist was guaranteed a play by Randy D. For many, his was the only play we got. Spin-on, my dear brother.”

Brooklyn resident Cyril “Scorcher” Thomas, another veteran calypsonian, said Randy D was “one of the most outstanding Vincentians who really helped to foster our music internationally.

“He was one the few promoters who actually featured Vincentian artists, such as Soso, Becket and myself, when other prominent Vincent promoters here in America and Canada were telling us we had to go to Trinidad and make a name in Trinidad before they can put us on a show here in North America,” he said.

“Randy D and his brother, Philip, would feature us in the Caribana shows in Canada, where we at least got an exposure,” he added. “He had his ‘Vibes Caribbean’ show. “Whenever he called, we were all ready and willing to go — Becket, Soso and I.

“So, in my mind, he was one of the stalwarts in Vincentian culture,” Scorcher continued. “He gave and didn’t count the cost. In my mind, he was one of the greatest Vincentians of all time.”

International soca star Vincentian Kevin Lyttle, a Miami resident, described Rand D’s passing as “a sad thing for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because Randy was a major contributor to entertainment in general.

“He had a very unique voice, especially on radio,” Lyttle said. “His voice was very distinguishable, and you could know when Randy D was on (air). He was a great patriot.

“He loved his island people,” he added. “He loved to see his people succeed. He always ‘bigged’ me up. And he did that to every artist he knew. Also, he was a very humble guy.

“He was one of the pioneers for radio in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Lyttle continued. “We should have a Radio Hall of Fame in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and induct him. It’s sad for me, because he and I were really cool friend.”

Former Vincentian calypso monarch Carlos “Rejector” Providence said he was “instantly in mourning when I heard the sad news of Randy ‘D’ ‘s passing, for I spoke with him a few months ago, and he was in such good spirit.

“I would certainly miss the inspiring conversations I have had with him,” said Rejector, who, among other titles, won the Calypso Monarch title in St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 1992 and 1996, and Calypso Monarch in Washington, D.C. in 2003 and 2005, and Baltimore, Maryland in 2006. “We have certainly lost an iconic radio personality/DJ/MC and a wonderful humanitarian.”

Rejector, who is also president of the Brooklyn-based Dynamites Calypso tent, the sole Vincentian calypso tent in North America, said his colleagues, “like the rest of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, are in mourning, as we grapple with the news” of Randy D’s passing.

“We pray that his family would find strength in the great legacy he left,” he said.

Popular Vincy soca artist Rondy “Luta” McIntosh said, from a tender age, he listened to Randy D “as one of the prominent voices on NBC Radio 705, the lone radio station in SVG at the time.

“On entering the music arena in 1994, I started seeing Randy D more and more at calypso tents, concerts, queen shows and other events, as an MC,” he said. “His voice was unmistakable, and his style and delivery were infectious.

“Randy D was a man engrossed and engraved in Vincy culture,” Luta added. “His name was prominent in our society, but he was as down-to-earth as they come.

“Randy D was a stalwart and an icon in many aspects of what we know to be as Vincies and a true Caribbean man,” he continued. “There would forever be a void in our culture due to the passing of this radio legend.”

Hailes Castello, a Vincentian-born calypsonian, radio broadcaster, dee jay and entertainer in Brooklyn, said one got “a sense of belonging when Randy D was on the radio.

“His voice pulled you in; you wanted to turn up the volume and take in every word, as much as you do (to) the music,” he said. “As a radio personality, Randy D gave everyone a ‘bligh,’ especially Vincentian artists. You can be assured he’ll play your song, whether you were a Bob MC or a Winston Soso.”

Supaeyes Cuffy, a prominent Vincentian DJ in Brooklyn, who worked with Randy D on “Vibes Caribbean” on WNJR in Newark, NJ, in the 1990s, said he “lost a good friend, a mentor, an icon, a man who inspired so many people in his life time doing what he loved.”

Nina Maloney, a former manager of NBC 705 Radio in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the 1970s, said she was “instrumental in getting a job at NBC for Randy.

“Randy, when he came to 705, the moment he stepped in the building you could have felt, sincerity, hard work and professionalism,” she said. “He didn’t do things willy nilly. He was a planner.

“To take up his shift, his music was planned according to the program. That’s why people enjoyed him,” added Maloney, who had visited an ailing Randy D a month before his passing and had planned to revisit him on Friday, Jan.15, “but that was not to be.”

“Not only did Randy serve faithfully and well in his native country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, but he shared his training and expertise regionally and internationally, which bore fruit,” she continued.

Dawn said her cousin “devoted his life to media broadcasting and entertainment, which he enjoyed to the max.

“His contribution to the art form, was reflected in the manner in which he conducted himself,” she said. “His passive interview style created a warm, friendly and relaxing atmosphere, which allowed the people he interacted with, to communicate with ease.

“At every opportunity he had, Randy D promoted his homeland of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, because of his love for country,” Dawn added. “While battling his illness, Randy D remained humble throughout the whole ordeal and maintained a pleasant disposition to the end. Randy D – a true Vincentian icon.”

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