Sixty years ago, as a young calypsonian named Andrew Marcano made his tent debut, no one could know he would become calypso’s living conscience. Lifestyle Caribbean recounts the life and times of the inimitable Lord Superior
It was during the Carnival season of 1954 that a shy but ambitious sixteen-year-old kid from Rio Claro made his way into Port of Spain to appear in his first calypso tent, the Victory, run by the well-known promoter Ivan Assee. The young performer was then known by his given name, Andrew Marcano — or simply as “the kid in short pants” — and he was still nervous, he recalls, when it came to performing in front of large crowds.
As he prepared to take the stage, the tent’s master of ceremonies would herald “the youngest calypsonian performing in Trinidad!”
The Victory was one of the premier tents during the 1954 season, with a star-studded lineup that included the likes of Spoiler, Spitfire, Striker, Viper, Cypher, Pretender, and the incomparable Lord Melody — who would win the calypso crown that season with his song “Second Spring”. Another young rising star that year, Lord Blakie, went on to win the 1954 Road March with his jocular “Steelband Clash”.
Indeed, I would argue that 1954 marked the dawning of the Golden Age of Calypso. Lord Kitchener was still in exile in England, but he had recorded a memorable calypso that year, “Is Trouble in Arima”. Another young kaisonian, an eighteen-year-old native of Grenada then known as the Little Sparrow, also cut his calypso teeth that momentous season. But it was the kid in the Victory Tent who would first make his mark.
The youngster — soon to be given the sobriquet Lord Superior by kaiso legends Spoiler and Melody — had one of Victory’s big hits that season, and became one its most popular draws. His bawdy calypso called “The Coconut Tree” was considered, at the time, a bit risqué for a teenager to be singing, but he pulled it off with a delightfully comedic delivery. The song tells of a “a lady up in Laventille / with coconuts in a quantity.” But for the poor boy from Rio Claro, “the tree’s so high / you can’t pick no matter how you try.” The wily teenager, however, was not to be denied.