On October 25, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings will release The Mighty Sparrow's First Flight: Early Calypsos From the Emory Cook Collection, documenting the early recordings of a Caribbean legend. The Mighty Sparrow, whose given name is Slinger Francisco, is the unrivaled Calypso King of the World, with a career that spans over 40 years and includes numerous honors. The Mighty Sparrow is planning a fall tour with fellow Smithsonian Folkways Recordings artist Ecos de Borinquén, launching October 27. Click here for tour dates.
The 18 tracks on First Flight: Early Calypsos From the Emory Cook Collection find Sparrow taking on various dramatic voices from sexually adventurous antihero to grieving lover. Highlights include "Sparrow verses Melody Picong" and "Reply to Melody," just two of over twenty calypsos from a musical insult war between Sparrow and Lord Melody from 1957 to 1962. "Mad Bomber" and "Russian Satellite" are topical calypsos, capturing unique perspectives on events that defined the Cold War era. "Gun Slingers" is Sparrow's portrayal of the street culture in Trinidad.
Born in Grenada in 1935, Slinger Francisco grew up in Port of Spain, Trinidad a dangerous and exciting setting. Experimenting with calypso and teaching himself guitar, he adopted The Mighty Sparrow moniker in 1955, recording over 200 calypsos by 1967. The celebrated calypso musician has won the King of Kings Competition, the Trinidad and Tobago's Carnival Road March Competition and the Road March Competition many times, including sweeping all three in 1958. On May 18, 1984, Ed Koch declared it to be Mighty Sparrow's Day in New York City.
Calypso scholar Gordon Rohlehr compiled 'First Flight: Early Calypsos From the Emory Cook Collection' from four Cook Records LPs released between 1956 and 1959: 'Calypso Kings and Pink Gin,' 'King Sparrow's Calypso Carnival,' 'Tour of Stereo' and 'Sparrow in Hi-Fi.' This is the third Smithsonian Folkways recordings reissue from the remarkable recordings of Emory Cook, an audio engineer, inventor and record label founder. 'First Flight: Early Calypsos From the Emory Cook Collection' includes Rohlehr's extensive liner notes, including track-by-track commentary as well as rare photographs.
First Flight: Early Calypsos From the Emory Cook Collection Track Listing
1. No, Doctor, No (Situation in Trinidad)
2. Sparrow verses Melody Picong
3. Carlton Peeping at Me
4. Harry in The Piggery
5. Mango Vert
6. Gun Slingers
7. Jean Marabunta
8. Sailor Man
11. Short Little Shorts
12. Country Girl
13. Dear Sparrow
14. Post Card to Sparrow
16. Russian Satellite
17. Mad Bomber
18. No More Rocking