Translate or interpret the music and the lyrics of the “Mighty Gabby” also known as Dr. Anthony Carter, anyway you want to and the impact of his messages remain the same, as impressive and lasting on you as he intended them to be. Carter is a Barbadian calypsonian, noted also for his 50 plus years of contribution to the Caribbean music industry. His indelible impact especially on his fellow Barbadians has triggered recognition and gave birth to the slogan “50 + 1.”
Dr. Carter was born in Barbados, West Indies on March 30, 1948 and the inherent feeling of wanting to sing dominated his life since his early years as a young man in Barbados. The early setbacks were his mother not believing his music had any possibilities for any real economic growth. She thought very little of his music and wanted him to concentrate on other career choices. Another “red flag” was that the music industry in Barbados lacked opportunities for growth and development for any aspiring musicians, during that period of young Gabby’s life. But what did that do for Dr. Carter? It made him a more determined young man who wanted to sing his calypso and soca music. Gabby had few examples to follow also, but consistent efforts and steadfastness over-shadowed the hurdles and propelled him into his musical arena. Now 50 years later, he is a musical icon and a cultural ambassador to his native country, Barbados.
A Better Life for Our People NY honored Dr. Carter in Brooklyn, New York recently. Chairman of the organization, Sam Clarke, said this acknowledgement of the Mighty Gabby’s work is as a result of “his dedication to his country and his fellowmen, his heroic and captivating styles of making history with his music.” Gabby is a creative and robust performer who captures the soul and heart of his country through his music. Real social issues dominate the lyrics of many of his songs.
Opposition Leader of the Barbados Labour Party, Mia Mottley, eloquently styled it as… “he is a national treasure for our nation.”
Dr. Carter has written almost 2,000 songs and sing 200 of those himself.
“He is prolific and inspiring in his writing, which makes this meaningful for his story to be told. His message through his writing and his music must move from one generation to another,” Ms. Mottley reasoned. Other Barbadians echoed similar sentiments of his music as she labeled it as “fresh melodies that are daily revelation to our lives.”
But the Mighty Gabby is not just a legend for his people. He has worked and travelled assiduously, to help spread his message of love through his music. Talking to him tells you how many lives he has touched positively and the many musical legends that he has worked with at sometime during his “50 + 1” years as a performer.
Not bent on retiring soon, Gabby has some shows lined up in England, New York City, Boston, British Virgin Islands, Atlanta and Miami. Dr. Carter is also actively involved in giving back to the young people of his country. Since 1977, he has been affiliated with St. Paul’s Primary School in Barbados. At St. Paul’s he teaches music to students. The recruitment is every two years for those who want to participate in this program. “It is the children who are giving back. It is a great pleasure to be with them,” he added. Gabby finds this satisfying and gets full support from the staff at the school as well as the parents. The effort will go forward with the addition of five more schools benefitting from the experience of this musical genius.
Fifty plus one (50 +1) is an extraordinary milestone for this legendary artiste and when you listen to his story you will understand that there will always be great men among us. The Mighty Gabby is one of them. That is one of the reasons when his fellow Barbadian, author, Barbara A. Chase, decided to chronicle his life story other Barbadians echoed sentiments for its arrival. “Gabby’s work is of essence and value for future generations,” she noted. Hence the book “Who Gabby Thinks He Is” is launched. The launching was at the Transport Workers Union Local 100, Downtown Brooklyn recently. In acknowledging Gabby, Barbara Chase reminded us why she wrote this book, “Gabby gave us so much to share, there is so much more to tell.”
Fifty plus one is symbolic of Gabby’s work over the years, and as, Barbados Opposition Leader, Mia Mottely, said, “… and that is why we celebrate him. He holds a relevance for a time like this.”