BRO. VALENTINO, Anthony Emrold Phillip, began his illustrious career in 1961 at The Big Bamboo, a minor calypso tent in Port of Spain, Trinidad, before breaking into the professional scene in 1966 at the Lord Kitchener's Caravan calypso tent. After the Black Power revolution of 1970 he transformed into a calypsonian with a conscience and a consciousness who sang on behalf of the poor and downtrodden and was dubbed "The People's Calypsonian". His commitment to lyrics of education, elevation and African consciousness has been his identifying badge and signature.
At the end of the heady decade of the tumultuous 1970's, with the echoes of the Black Power revolution of Trinidad still strongly reverberating, Valentino penned his two most commercially successful calypsoes, 1979's "Stay up Zimbabwe" and 1980's "Ah Wo [Brand New Revolution] both reflections of the revolutionary spirit which had engulfed the Caribbean in the 1970's. 1979 marked the historic date of the Maurice Bishop led Grenadian Revolution and as if to herald this auspicious event Valentino would make it all the way to the coveted national calypso monarch finals with this anti-apartheid anthem.
Woe be on to Rhodesia
Woe be on to South Africa
You pushing my back against the wall
I calling the tribes of Hannibal
I man decide to put on his boots
And march to defend his roots
I know this fight won't be so easy
But you got to get rid of the enemy
If you don't get rid of the enemy
The enemy shall get rid of thee
The infectious military style rhythm and the lyrical clarion call to arms invaded the Carnival / Calypso season of 1979 filling the lips and boots of everyone, singing and marching to his chorus.
Calling them Juju - Oh ya ye!
Calling them Zulu - Oh ya yo!
Shouting Ashanti - Oh ya ye!
Calling Watusi - Oh ya yo!
In South Africa and Rhodesia - Oh ya ye!
Blood go run like water - Oh ya yo!
But there was another rhythmic element, the Shango / Orisha blend, which on many an occasion at Valentino's pubic performances, would make audiences, as Trinidadians say locally, "catch the power".
Stay up Zimbabwe! - Oh ya ye!
Stay up Zimbabwe! - Oh ya yo!
Sadly, thus mega hit, did not translate into financial gains for Valentino. He laments "to know your biggest song internationally you never get the immediate returns. The most I get from 'Zimbabwe' was mileage".
One year later Valentino again stunned the world with a song which revelled in the new-found fame of the Caribbean, no doubt spurned on by the very Grenadian revolution of one year earlier. "Awo" championed the new mood of the Islands.
Watch out Nevis, St. Kitts, Anguilla
St Vincent, St Lucia and Dominica
Another pillar crumbles
Down comes the prison wall
Another leader tumbles
And another tyranny will fall
Coming on a brand-new revolution
Coming through the West Indies
Coming on a brand-new revolution
Colonialism Dying by degrees
He called on the people to rally around this cause and spread the fire to the next generation:
Our children we must protect them
Change the education system
Revolutionize the young minds
Leaders of future times
West Indians it's a new dawn
And the forward march is on
Ah Wo! Ah Wo! Ah Wo!
Ah Wo! Ah Wo! Ah Wo
Both songs, calypsoes flavoured with the newly introduced Soca melody of the mid 1970's, are now given a new lease of life on this record.
Voted among the top 50 calypsonians of the 20th century, four of his songs have also been selected in the Top 200 calypsos of that period - "Life is a Stage" , "Barking Dogs" , "Dis Place Nice"  and "Stay up Zimbabwe" , while his 2004 history treatise "Where Calypso went" was selected as Calypso of the Year. Valentino can be assured of a place among the pantheon of calypso luminaries in the hallowed halls of Calypsodom.
Enjoy and be educated.
Written by ZENO OBI CONSTANCE,
Archivist and lecturer on Calypso history at the University of the West Indies, has published two books on Bro. Valentino - "The Man behind the Music", the career biography of the calypsonian (2011) and "The Man and his Music" a compilation of all the singer's lyrics (2017).
released August 10, 2017
Mastered by Frank Merritt at the Carvery
All tracks composed by Anthony Emrold Phillip
Executive Producer : Samy Ben Redjeb for Analog Africa
Cat. number : Analog Africa AADE06