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Sparrow blessed with top award

By SEAN DOUGLAS Thursday, June 12 2014

click on pic to zoom in
King Sparrow: Calypso King of the World Slinger 'Mighty Sparrow' Francisco wearing the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Medal performs his...
King Sparrow: Calypso King of the World Slinger 'Mighty Sparrow' Francisco wearing the Order of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Medal performs his...

SLINGER Francisco, “The Mighty Sparrow”, was yesterday presented with the nation’s highest honour, the Order of the Republic Of Trinidad and Tobago, by President of the Republic Anthony Carmona, at a presentation ceremony at NAPA, Port-of-Spain. Also present were Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Chief Justice Ivor Archie and their spouses, all of whom shook his hand in congratulations, with Mrs Denise Archie breaking formalities by a friendly hug.

This stirred the delight of guests, a host of personalities in the public sphere, including entertainers, politicians and board directors.

The audience was thrilled by the awardee performing several of his classics, including “Model Nation”, “Willie Boy” and “Maharajin” (accompanied by East Indian folk dancers) plus the reflective “My Way” (sung by crooner, the late Frank Sinatra), having surprised all by opening with “The Lord’s Prayer”. Other Sparrow songs were sung by David Bereaux and Friends Ensemble and the Bishop Anstey High School Choir, with backing by Cummings and the Wailers.

Sparrow later told reporters the award made him feel “very special” and “hot, hot, hot, like Arrow”. He said, “Nothing comes before its time. I’m very, very blessed.”

He said similar awards should be given posthumously for the likes of Aldwin “Lord Kitchener” Roberts and, Fitzroy “Lord Melody” Alexander.

“It would be something positive for all the other calypsonians as well. The younger ones are going to see what can happen. I’m glad, I’m very, very happy.”

He vowed to keep the award close by. “Every time I see it obviously it will bring some happiness to me and put a smile on my face.”

His message to youngsters? “Work hard. Don’t ever give up, because you see what happens when people work hard and dedicate themselves. Even higher things and better things can happen to the youngsters ones. Technology today is giving every one of us a better chance.” His future plans, “I have one or two ideas already. I’ll remember to do something about it for next year.”

His secret recipe? “Say your prayers. People tell me, ‘when we heard what was happening to you we prayed.’ I want to tell them, ‘thank you, folks’. Thanks to the good Lord, I’m here, moving as good can be. If you’d seen me many months ago...ha, ha, ha. Look at me, I’m standing even without the cane. They graduated me from a wheelchair to a walker and then this cane, and now I can throw this cane aside and the doctor in New York said, ‘Don’t show off’.”

Sparrow is hopeful of returning to the calypso tent next year.

Last year, Sparrow spent months in a New York hospital after suffering a stroke and was in a coma. He returned to Trinidad for Carnival, earlier this year, and the Prime Minister announced he would receive the nation’s highest award.

Persad-Bissessar told Newsday, “I think people are very, very happy, excited and enthralled, if I may go that far, from the comments I’m receiving. It is the first time a calypsonian has received the highest award of our country. I know that previously they received other awards but never the highest award. I feel very humbled that I was the instrument by which that could happen. It shall not be the last.”

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