A Celebration Of A Trailblazer Of Caribbean Music In The UK

Local News

Tell Me What Yo’ Singin’ For celebrates the popular music of Trinidad in its many and various forms in an evening inspired by the life of singer, actor, broadcaster and activist Edric Connor. Edric was the father of Yorkshire-based teacher, director and ethnomusicologist Geraldine Connor, creator of the legendary Carnival Messiah.

Geraldine’s long-time friend and collaborator, Nigel Wong, curates the evening, with acoustic performances of calypsos and Trinidadian folk songs from Eric’s songbooks, accompanied by steelpan virtuoso Dudley Nesbit and Brazilian percussionist Claudio Kron.  Nigel will be performing with Simone Sauphanor and Sheldon Blackman.

The evening also presents a performance of music by Sheldon Blackman that has been described as calypso’s electric offspring.  Sheldon is the son of Ras Shorty I, who is generally credited as being the creator of soca (the soul of calypso), Trinidad’s most popular contemporary musical style. Sheldon will be accompanied by members of the legendary Anglo/Caribbean fusion pioneers, The Breakfast Band.

Born in 1913 in Mayaro, Trinidad, Edric arrived in England in 1944 searching for wider success as both a musician and actor.  He became a pioneering performer of West Indian music in England.  In 1952 he performed at the Festival of Britain with a steel band, giving a platform to a style of music rarely heard in mainstream Britain, whilst also introducing Jamaican music to an audience, which would soon progress to the popular ska and reggae.

In 1955, he recorded the first Manchester United Football Club song, “The Manchester United Calypso”, and set up the Edric Connor Agency with his wife Pearl to represent black actors, dancers, writers and musicians. In 1963 they formed the Negro Theatre Workshop, the UK’s first black theatre group.

Connor was the first black actor to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company and starred in a dozen major British and international films. He is best remembered for his role as Daggoo in Moby Dick. 

Tell Me What Yo’ Singin’ For is produced by the Geraldine Connor Foundation in partnership with Opera North and performed at the Howard Assembly Room. The Foundation was established in 2012 to continue the legacy of Geraldine Connor in advancing the development of individuals in the arts whilst encouraging and promoting equality, diversity, empowerment and inclusion.  The Howard Assembly Room is curated and produced by Opera North Projects, which creates an alternative strand of work across different artforms, with a focus on collaboration.

Amy Bere, Chief Executive of the Geraldine Connor Foundation said: “Edric was a true pioneer of world music, introducing thousands of eyes and ears to new sounds and a new world.  Geraldine was very aware of her father’s highly regarded place in music history, indeed in 2005 she accepted an award on behalf of the Connor family from the British Association of Steelbands in celebration of her family’s contribution to the Promotion of Steelband Music, Caribbean Art, Culture and Heritage throughout the UK.  Tell Me What Yo’ Singin’ For brings together many talents in celebration of this great man and his legacy.” 

Friday 3rd July 7.45pm, Howard Assembly Room,located inside Leeds Grand Theatre on New Briggate, Leeds City Centre

Tickets available from www.operanorth.co.uk/productions/tell-me-what-yo-singin-for-soul-of-calypso

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