Our next feature in this series of “Bringing the Stars Closer to Earth” is on Anthony “The Mighty Gabby” Carter. This article will take an interview style format, with most of the responses coming from several different articles.
Name: Anthony Carter
Born: March 30th, 1948
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m the 4th of 5 children. I have three brothers and one sister. My mother was a midwife. My father left our family when I was about 5. But I still remember how much both he and my mother loved music. Dad was always whistling and tapping his foot. Taken from Crop Over Barbados and Caribbean Beat and Caribbean Beat.
We hear young Anthony was quite the singer in his young days as well.
[Laughs] Yes, I sang in both the St. Mary’s and St. Leonard’s School Choirs. It was actually singing in these two choirs that taught me how to harmonize. But I am grateful for those experiences because they helped me realise I wanted to be a singer. Taken from Crop Over Barbados
And how did you mother take this?
Not well that’s for sure [laughs]! I was always really good at my academics and she felt this was my path to success. One day she even said “If you can show me one successful calypsonian, then I will agree with you”. I couldn’t [laughs] but that didn’t stop me from pursuing my music. I skipped my GCE exam to sing in a calypso competition. I didn’t think that one through because mum started getting suspicious when I didn’t receive my results! At first I told her I failed all of my subjects but eventually, after a few years, I finally told her I never showed up for the test!
So when did you first discover calypso?
I think I was around 7 – when I learned my very first song Small Cone by Kitchener. Yes it was a long time ago [laughs]. I started to work in both that and folk music but when I met Eddie Grant things really changed for me. Taken from Crop Over Barbados and Caribbean Beat.
What was it like meeting one of your heroes?
Sureal. I remember heading to Bayley’s Plantation – only because I heard Eddie Grant was going to live there. I walked around and around the property and he was standing under a tree just watching me, not saying a word. So I finally gathered the courage and introduced myself. It was a moment I will never forget. Taken from Caribbean Beat
Who would you say had the greatest impact on your development as an artiste?
Oh without a doubt Eddie. “Eddie always used to say ‘Gabberts, you are not making the music for today. 8, 10 , 20 years from now, unless I am wrong and I’ve never been wrong, these songs are going to be played’. I couldn’t see it at the time, of course … but he saw something different and something that was more visionary and it proved that he was correct.” He always told people he built his recording studio Blue Wave for himself, me and Grynner. Taken from GIS Barbados and Caribbean Beat.
Everyone knows you are a Calypso legend. When did you win your first calypso crown?
In 1968 when I was 19 – the youngest person to ever win the crown. Taken from Barbados Pocket Guide.
Most of the artistes we have interviewed have at times moonlighted as actors. Have you done any acting stints?
Oh yes. I starred in the documentary 500 years later, which also starred Maulana Karenga. I also dabbled a lot in plays; the first and most popular one being “Under the Duppy Parasol”. Taken from Barbados Pocket Guide and Crop Over Barbados.
What have been the biggest sources of motivation behind some of your early songs?
Much of that surrounded our culture. We as a country had made great strides in the 80’s and 90’s, but there was still the sense that Barbados didn’t have its own culture. So in that period I wanted to prove that we did have a culture especially since no one really came out to defend it.. So, many of my songs during that period were based on showing that Barbados indeed had a culture. My songs have been satires against the political and cultural trends I observed. Nothing reflects this more than “Boots” and “Jack”. Taken from Academia.edu
We also hear you are quite the entrepreneur as well.
Yes. In 1979 I opened the Battleground Calypso Tent and I was very pleased by its growth. For more than 10 consecutive years the road march title was won by someone from my tent. Taken from Crop Over Barbados.
Tell us a bit about the 2010 Pic-o-De-Crop Finals. We know it was quite controversial.
I think persons made it more controversial than it really was to be honest. That year I had not planned on competing. I just wanted to help the youth at the time really grow and develop in their calypso careers. But then I heard that my tent wasn’t doing so well and the last thing I wanted was some kind of embarrassment. So, I took two songs I wrote and memorised them a couple hours before the Semis of Pic-o-De-Crop. And as fate would have it I won that year. The crowd didn’t take it well but I think it’s because they didn’t understand the type of music portrayed by the two songs. It was a mixture of Brazilian, African and our very own Spouge and Calypso so it was pretty different from the usual. But I understood their position and I forgave them for their reaction. Taken from Barbados Pocket Guide
What is one thing our readers may not know about you?
I work in schools around the island teaching folk and Calypso music. Taken from Crop Over Barbados.
What about something our reader would never guess?
I was named a Nigerian Chief and given the name Omowale, meaning “our son has returned”. Taken from open.uwi.edu
That’s interesting. When did this happen?
On a trip to Nigeria. They were the ones who gave me the name. Being a Nigerian Chief symbolizes that I am head of a community or clan; kind of a source of authority. Taken from netlibrary.net
Is there anything else you wish to add?
“I want to thank everybody in the arts not just calypso, because they encouraged me and told me I could do it. I felt honoured even for the artistes I had the opportunity to write for. I had great experiences with people like Super Blue, David Rudder, [and] The Lion. I am eternally grateful for the chance and the opportunity that Barbados afforded me.” Taken from GIS Barbados
To view image sources click here