A large number of Vincentian calypsonians in New York were among the general population of expatriots in shock and sorrow over the sudden passing of Gerard “Rasum” Shallow, on the night of March 4.
Shallow, a school teacher, former calypsonian and parliamentarian, was reportedly found dead in the yard of his home in the Marriaqua Valley on mainland St. Vincent.
Reports indicate that the erstwhile senator died of a heart attack. He was 52.
“It’s very sad to hear about his passing,” said John Dougan, president of the Dynamite Calypso Tent, the lone Vincentian calypso tent in New York, in a Caribbean Life interview.
“He was a very good writer and singer,” added Dougan, who also hails from the Marriaqua Valley. “Everyone was surprised about his death. He was a young fellar (fellow) and very friendly, too.”
Dougan disclosed that the Dynamite Calypso Tent will pay a special tribute to “Rasum” during the preliminary round of the calypso competition in New York on June 1.
Another calypsonian, Franklin “Supadex” Richards, a former president of the Dynamite Calypso Tent, said “Rasum” was one of the better calypso writers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“The only person next to him is ‘De Man Age’ (former national calypso monarch, whose real name is Errol Winston Rose),” said Richards, who currently serves as public relations officer of the Dynamite Calypso Tent.
“His song, ‘Perseverance,’ is one of those songs that’ll never die,” he added. “The guy was a visionary.
“He’ll be a great loss to St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Richards continued. “He spent most of his life in public service – giving back one way or the other.”
“De Man Age,” who, like “Rasum,” was also a school teacher, said “Perseverance” was one of the better calypsos to be produced in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“He (‘Rasum’) will be remembered for that song,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate that a calypsonian, like him, passed so quickly. “He was one of the best we had. He could sing. He had a good voice. He could deliver.
“Even though he stayed out (of the calypso arena for a while), he was still a top calypsonian,” ‘De Man Age’ told Caribbean Life. “He must be remembered for his contributions in teaching and calypso.”
Another calypsonian, Earl “Exposer” Isles, said he had looked up to “Rasum.”
“It’s sad to hear about his death,” he said. “It’s a great loss. He was still a young man.”
Ainsley Primus, another former president of the Dynamite Calypso Tent, said “Rasum” succeeded him in becoming a member of the defunct, popular band, X-adus.
“It’s a great loss,” said the organizer of the New Sound Calypso Competition for the Brooklyn, New York-based entertainment group, Level Vibes.
“He ‘Rasum’ was an intelligent guy who wrote conscious lyrics,” Primus added. “When you look at ‘Perseverance’, it’s a heavy sound.