The Vincentian calypso fraternity in Brooklyn is mourning the death of veteran calypsonian Vincent “Groovy D” Kennedy, who died on Wednesday morning.
Carlos “Rejector” Providence – another veteran Vincentian calypsonian, who co-founded, in 2001, the Brooklyn-based Dynamites Calypso Tent with Kennedy, the lone Vincentian calypso tent in North America – said Kennedy was “warded” at the Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in East Flatbush, Brooklyn “after suffering a stroke some time ago and was undergoing physical therapy up to the time of his death.”
“It is with deep sadness that we, the members of the Dynamites Calypso Tent of New York inform you of the passing this morning, April 8, 2020, of our brother in culture and co-founder of our organization,” Providence, who was elected president of the Dynamites Calypso Tent in November last year, told Caribbean Life Wednesday evening.
“We would forever cherish the many wonderful memories we shared throughout his life, more so, our visit with him last Christmas, and on Jan. 11, 2020, his birthday,” Providence added. “To his pleasant surprise, we turned up at the hospital and held a wonderful birthday party for him.
“This, clearly, was one of his happiest moments in recent time,” he continued. “He would be sadly missed. The members of the Dynamites extend sincere condolence to his wife, family and friends.”
Providence said Kennedy’s first “big year” in the calypso arena was in 1976, when he sang “Frustration,” “which took him to the calypso monarch finals” in the national Calypso Competition in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Soon after, Providence said Kennedy migrated to the US and served in the Armed Forces.
From 2001 to 2006, Providence said he and Kennedy competed in Caribbean calypso shows in Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, MD; and Miami, Fl.
“I remember him placing third twice in Washington, D.C. and once in Baltimore,” Providence said.
“In the year 2001, we both founded the Dynamites Calypso Tent, and he made it to the national (calypso) semi-finals on three occasions,” he added.
Prior to assuming the calypso sobriquet “Groovy D”, Kennedy carried the calypso title “Dread Condition.”
Earl “Caba” Earl Bennett, president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Calypsonians Association, said Kennedy was “another iconic” Vincentian calypsonian, who started his career in the 70’s and, in 1976, “produced one of the classics of all times, a calypso entitled ‘Frustration’”.
“He was one of the architects of the Dynamites Calypso Tent in New York and contributed to that tent’s development,” he said in a statement on Facebook. “He was also a kindhearted man; he was always willingly to help those in need.
“His contributions to the development and promotion of calypso both in SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and the Diaspora is well documented, and we of the SVGCA (St. Vincent and the Grenadines Calypso Association) salute him for his efforts,” Bennett added. “We were the richer for having him in our lives and the poorer for his passing.
“He will certainly be missed, for he has left us, but he will definitely not be forgotten as he has left us with a rich and positive legacy,” he continued. “On behalf of the SVGCA, I wish to extend deepest condolences to his family, friend, the Dynamites SVG Calypso Tent and the rest of the Calypso Fraternity.”
Sherrill-Ann Mason, president of the Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc., which worked closely with the Dynamites Calypso Tent, said Kennedy was “a hard-hitting calypsonian, who was a gifted lyricist.
“He also demonstrated a resilient spirit and, in spite of his health challenges, continued to make his contribution to the artform through the Dynamites Calypso Tent in NY,” she added. “We will continue to remember your contributions Groovy D in the midst of these dread conditions. Rest in peace and power brother Groovy D.”
Tammy Kirby – another member of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc., who hails from Rose Place, in lower Kingstown, the Vincentian capital, where Kennedy lived before migrating to New York – said Kennedy “lived his life to the fullest before he got ill.
“Gone from our sight but never from our hearts,” she said. “My condolences to the entire family. Sleep on my brother.”
Vincentian Arthur Bobb said Kennedy was “one of the conscious and fearless calypsonians/poets who emerged out of the 70’s with people like Black Messenger, I-Reality, Man Age, etc.
“He loved his country and people, and we love him back,” Bobb said. “Deepest condolences to his family! Blessings!”