Just 10 days before his eagerly awaited London concert, renowned calypsonian David Rudder has been awarded the Order of the Caribbean Community. The Caricom accolade means he is now officially styled The Honourable David Michael Rudder. The Order is an exclusive one as it is restricted to just 15 living people at any one time.
Rudder received the award at a special ceremony in Port of Spain on Wednesday 10 August 2022 from Trinidad & Tobago’s Foreign and Caricom Affairs Minister, Dr Amery Browne. The minister reminded us that David Rudder “gave us the anthem that still rallies West Indians near and far… He used calypso music to define calypso music [and] with his unique and timeless lyrics and melodies, he calls attention to the plight of the common man.”
In accepting the award, Rudder told the audience that his life in music effectively began at the age of nine when he stood on stage to sing a song at Belmont Boys RC School. “I realised at that moment that this was my calling; this is what I was put here to do.” He added, ironically: “Twenty-one years later, I became an overnight success.”
As a reminder, he began singing calypso at age 11, joined The Solutions band and then, in 1977, became a member of Charlie’s Roots, as well as serving as a backup singer in Lord Kitchener’s Calypso Revue tent. But it was in 1986 that he made the breakthrough with his album The Hammer and by winning the Young King, Calypso Monarch and Road March King titles at Carnival – plus having the winning Panorama tune that year too.
David Rudder paid tribute to the formative effect of growing up in Belmont, where he was surrounded by panyards, calypsonians and intellectuals. He advised the audience: “Listen to the people around you… listen to the world… pay attention to every word, every magical moment.” He spoke of his determination to overcome the polio he contracted in childhood (a timely reminder, as the disease, once thought to have been eradicated, has returned to London). He dedicated his award to young people, advising, “If you falter along the way, always be ready to dust yourself off and move on.”
- The award ceremony can be viewed on YouTube.