The Music Diaries | Lord Creator: Trinidadian-turned Jamaican
When Trinidad-born Kenrick Patrick, better known as Lord Creator, was passing through Jamaica in 1962, making Jamaica his home was the furthest thing from his mind.
He was actually on a Caribbean tour with a group of musicians when he stopped in Jamaica for a number of shows. One such show took him to the Havana Nightclub - a popular music joint on Windward Road. In a 2007 interview, he told me: "I had a contract from Guyana to come up to the Caribbean with a group of entertainers, and we were touching almost every island in the Caribbean. While I was doing a show at the Havana Nightclub, in the audience was a man named Vincent Chin, better known as Randy, along with a friend from the Gleaner Company named Raymond Sharpe. After they heard me perform and realised that I could make up a song in quick time, Randy came back stage and asked me to make a song for him about Jamaica's Independence. I agreed, and Randy took me to his home where Sharpe loaned me a Gleaner article about Jamaica's lead-up to Independence. Using that information, I wrote Independent Jamaica in about half-hour."
As it turned out, the calypso-flavoured recording, not only became a big No. 1 hit that year, but was also one of the most informative and descriptive narrative in song about Jamaica's build-up to the attainment of Independence. Lord Creator was spot on as he sang in the first stanza with the backing of The Jamaica Military Band:
"Manley went up to England to seek for Independence,
And although Busta was late, he still attended the conference.
Although from two different parties,
It was very good to see
how these two politicians were shaking hands when they gained victory.
Independence is good for the young and the old,
Also for me and you.
Independence is good for the whole population, including our children too."
He followed up with hit such as Welcome Princess Margaret and Freedom Song, also for Randy's label, on the same theme.
The 26-year-old Trinidadian suddenly became an overnight sensation, falling in love with the island, its music and its people, prompting his urge to remain in Jamaica. Further hit recordings for Randy's in the Ska mould - Don't Stay Out Late and Man To Man - further consolidated his position as a naturalised Jamaican singing star and attracted a flood of female fans to his smooth, honey-toned voice. His gradual build-up of Jamaican offspring suddenly began to compete with his multitude of hit songs, and the combination further strengthened his will to stay.
Moving to the more affluent Studio 1 label, his hits continued to flow with Rascal Boy, Evening News, Little Princess, Golden Love, and Unfaithful Baby. He became more like a moving target for other producers as only Byron Lee, and later, Clancy Eccles, got a shot at his talent.
And speaking about targets, we were right on target for two milestones in his life: his 83rd birthday last Tuesday, August 21, and the 56th anniversary of his Jamaican debut - Independent Jamaica.
Born in the land of calypso in 1935, the stereotype fanatics would easily label him a calypsonian, and his choice of a calypso song to satisfy Randy's request would perhaps reinforce that notion. Yet, Creator affirms that calypso was not at the top of his list of preferred genres. In my interview with him, he said: "I was known as a calypsonian, but really, I am not. My love for music is ballads. I grew up listening to people like Nat King Cole, Billy Eckstine, and Frank Sinatra. But a calypsonian is gifted with the talent of rhyming and making up songs instantaneously, and so it doesn't take me long to compose songs." He exemplified both musical traits when he composed, in half an hour, the intensely romantic ballad We'll Be Lovers for Norma Frazer (famous for The First Cut Is The Deepest) and brought her into the music business as they did a duet:
"Look through the window you'll see what I see
Two lovers walking just as we used to be
Gone were the days when we were just like they
But in our hearts they are memories to stay."
Long before the days of his Jamaican exploits, Lord Creator was a singer of some repute in Trinidad and the Caribbean. He first sang in calypso tents and then recorded a number of songs in the 1950s with The Trinidad-based Fitz Vaughn-Bryan Orchestra foremost among them being Evening News, which was a big hit across the Caribbean. Some of his compositions he brought with him and recorded for Randy's and Coxson.
Back in Jamaica, by the late 1960s, his career had taken a downturn and he struggled for several years, having to support a number of children. In 1984, family members assisted his passage home to help ameliorate his condition. But ill-luck was again on the horizon as Lord Creator suffered a stroke in Trinidad. Then came the enactment of high drama when the British reggae group UB-40 made a No. 1 hit out of his composition Kingston Town in 1989. It generated enormous royalties for Lord Creator as the writer. The news seemed to have healed him as he was out of bed and back in Jamaica as a happy man the following year to build a lavish home in Montego Bay. He has been living in Jamaica ever since.