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Damian Joseph - the ‘Chinee Parang’ man

Denise Balgobin Tuesday, November 28 2006

Damian Joseph says he was scared and very nervous when he had to go up on stage in front of a large crowd to collect the award for Soca Parang of the Year, at the recent COTT Awards held at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s

Coming from the developing agricultural community of Paramin, Maraval, known for its warmth and traditional village atmosphere, it’s no wonder Joseph is somewhat shy of being in the spotlight, but he is now learning to handle his new-found fame.

Joseph, along with his sister Melina won the award as co-writers of one of the most popular soca parang tunes for this season, “Chinee Parang.”

The 37-year-old got the idea for the song while liming with friends one day, and playing some impromptu music. He just started humming a tune and his friends suggested he write a complete song about Chinese people.

The end result is “Chinee Parang”, which he recorded in October 2005 and has been a hit played frequently on several local radio stations, and is a number one song on local charts.

While this is his first solo effort, Joseph is no stranger to the parang stage, having been a member of Paramin Junior Serenaders during his formative years and is a current member of the Paramininos parang group, competing in the semi-finals of NPATT’s competition on December 2, and hopefully the finals on December 16.

Joseph remembers that this group was formed five years ago out of a school project by children and nephews of Richard Mendez, who were doing research about parang in Paramin. “I love being a member of this band and singing parang, so for me to have a solo hit of this type of music, and have it recognised on a national scale makes me very happy,” he admitted.

He is very proud of winning this year’s COTT award and never expected to become so famous and recognised everywhere he goes, but he admits his shyness sometimes prevents him from making friends easily.

For the Christmas season, he has done a collaboration CD containing three of his own new songs, as well as two from singer Wendy Scantlebury, who sings with Sabor. Joseph wrote the lyrics for his songs, which all have stories behind them.

The first one, “Four Cable”, is about not having access to cable connections in Paramin, while the second, “Ra Musica” is about a man trying to teach people how to speak Spanish, but he is pronouncing the words incorrectly, while the third is “Doh Tackle Meh”, a reply to another Paramin singer who believes that newcomer Joseph is achieving success faster than he is.

The CD will be launched at Palmiste Trace, Paramin on December 1.

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