PASS THE TORCH Honours the Next Generation in Canadian Calypso Music

It's been an exciting week in Toronto, and every time we see new milestones reached whether through sporting events, politics, business, or art, it give the community a chance to reflect on where we are and how far we have come in a variety of disciplines. The elements of culture that make up the fabric of Toronto encompass the best of so many nationalities and social groups, and when that celebration of culture becomes a matter of inter-generational conversation, it is a moment of joy and encouragement knowing that the right steps are taken to ensure that traditions and talents are carried forth into another group of leaders and creators.

On Sunday, June 16 at the Krave Banquet Hall (55 Nugget Avenue, Scarborough), non-profit program PASS THE TORCH (PTT) will be honouring Mr. Dick Lochan aka "De Juice Man" through their work, in spirit, and for his legacy. The afternoon of music and culture will feature a mix of calypso performances and entertainment, while celebrating PTT's 15th anniversary. Festivities will continue on July 21 when they present the first Junior Calypso Competition in North America.

The PTT program began with Juno-award winning musician John Jayson Perez in 2004, with the assistant of Dick Lochan who remained a part of the program up until he passed in 2017. A calypsonian since 1983, Perez has also received numerous accolades for his contributions to the Caribbean art form, and had been working to keep the tradition alive with the assistance of Lochan's past guidance, and the blessings of other dedicated community members.

Perez initially began his music instruction from his home, and then continued at the Malvern Community Centre, teaching young people the values and elements of Caribbean culture and music, with a special emphasis on the composition and performance of calypso music. Aiming to help his students build confidence and a unique skill set through performance, Perez has led many talented musicians to produce recordings of their own work, with the musical supervision of Ossie Gurley. Some of his students have even continued on to record professionally, and have maintained their love for the arts.

This weekend, the tradition of sharing and creating music continues at Krave Banquet hall, uniting children, parents, and community in the name of culture.

"In the spirit of Caribana and the Carnival, it is time for us all to come together and celebrate in unity," said Perez. "I take great pride in helping the younger generation to write and compose calypso and soca. It brings me great joy to reminisce and celebrate the legacy Dick Lochan has provided us to enjoy today."

Sunday's event will be hosted by Masahda and DJ Rex, with live performances from the Junior Calypsonians in addition to performances from Malay Walker, Pannist, Roots and Branches, and the Hummingbird Drummers. The winners of the June 9 and June 16 junior calypso tents will compete on July 21, with the chance to win prizes and recordings of their work.

Photo via TorontoCaribbean
"[Lochan] has helped to take our culture across the Greater Toronto Area and beyond, while keeping Trinidad and Tobago culture, calypso, and kaiso music relevant in 2019," said Perez. "As the leader of Pass the Torch, I look forward to passing the torch for another fifteen years and more, as we play mas, enjoy play, jump up in unity, and wave our rag."

For more information about Pass the Torch and the upcoming Junior Calypsonian competition, contact 647-857-1566 or 416-428-6253, or visit EventBrite to purchase your $25 ticket: . Tickets will be $30 at the door.

Malek: 416-724-1328

Written by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.


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