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Biography

Lord Superior (Andrew Marcano, Rio Claro, Trinidad and Tobago, November 30, 1937 - November 24, 2018) was a Trinidadian calypsonian.

Lord Superior made his debut into calypso at the age of 16 singing a calypso called "Coconut" at the Victory Calypso Tent in Port of Spain. In those days he was considered to be the youngest Calypsonian to perform locally.

Some of his memorable calypsoes were, Spread Joy, San Fernando Carnival, Saga T'ing, We want a day, Standardise Pan, Cultural Assassination and Put the women on top.

He was awarded the Hummingbird medal Silver in 2015 and received his Honourary Doctor of Letters at the 2017 graduation ceremony at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad.

He was considered to be the first calypsonian to produce a record on his own record label, the first to Perform at the Madison Square Gardens, in New York, USA, and the first to produce a full-length calypso musical.

Born in Rio Claro on No­vem­ber 30, 1937, to Li­onel and Ma­bel Mar­cano, Su­pe­ri­or is one of the few liv­ing leg­ends in the arts in T&T.

Su­pe­ri­or at­tend­ed St Therese RC School in Rio Claro and reached as far as Stan­dard Sev­en where he spent two years. He didn't at­tend sec­ondary school or have ter­tiary learn­ing as he de­cid­ed from a very young age that aca­d­e­mics would not take him to his ul­ti­mate dream, to be an en­ter­tain­er.

As a lit­tle boy grow­ing up in Rio Claro, Su­pe­ri­or did all the fun things lit­tle coun­try boys did, in­clud­ing climb­ing trees, swim­ming in the riv­er, "es­pe­cial­ly when it flood­ed," mak­ing and fly­ing kites, and burst­ing bam­boo. But, over­rid­ing every­thing, ca­lyp­so was the lure for young Mar­cano.

Trac­ing his be­gin­nings in ca­lyp­so, Su­pe­ri­or said: "I was al­ready bit­ten by the ca­lyp­so bug by the time I was a lit­tle boy. I used to hear some of the great singers, like Ra­dio, Tiger, Melody, Spoil­er and Kitch­en­er, on the ra­dio and when­ev­er they per­formed at the Crown The­atre. At that point it was ei­ther to fur­ther my stud­ies to be pre­pared to en­ter the work­place or be­come an en­ter­tain­er. I was on­ly in­ter­est­ed in ca­lyp­so and there was no school to teach at so I schooled my­self in ca­lyp­so. To get my high­er learn­ing I had to come to Port-of-Spain and sit at the feet of the mas­ters. Most peo­ple study cer­tain things just to get a con­ven­tion­al job and most times they find them­selves un­hap­py. This didn't hap­pen to me. In ret­ro­spect, I think that I was very for­tu­nate to choose ca­lyp­so over a con­ven­tion­al job.

"As a young man I ab­sorbed every as­pect of the ca­lyp­so art form. I am skilled to han­dle any area of ca­lyp­so."

Su­pe­ri­or be­lieves that to be a com­pe­tent ca­lyp­son­ian the artiste must be com­pe­tent in all el­e­ments of the genre. He ex­plained: "Back in the day, to be a true ca­lyp­son­ian one had to be versed in the three main com­po­nents of ca­lyp­so; be­ing a lyri­cal com­pos­er, a mu­si­cal com­pos­er and a per­former who mas­tered the art of ex­tem­pore. That to me was a great chal­lenge. Very few ca­lyp­so­ni­ans at the time mas­tered all three com­po­nents.

"I learned more from Pre­tender as a lyri­cist as he had an ex­cel­lent vo­cab­u­lary. Spoil­er adopt­ed me as a son and took me in­to his lit­tle batchee in Laven­tille and I lived there for a while. He had the great­est imag­i­na­tion. I learned mu­sic lit­er­a­cy from both Viking and Strik­er, two great mu­si­cians, along with Frankie Fran­cis and Cyril Di­az. I learned a bit of en­tre­pre­neur­ship and un­der­stand­ing the busi­ness and ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try from Tiger (Neville Mar­cano)."

"Be­cause of the knowl­edge I've ac­quired I can do every­thing there is to do in ca­lyp­so. My knowl­edge in ad­ver­tis­ing gave me a han­dle to be­come in­volved in ra­dio, but that is an en­tire­ly dif­fer­ent sto­ry."

Su­pe­ri­or owned his own ra­dio sta­tion–94.1FM, now the ur­ban sta­tion Boom Cham­pi­ons.

Rem­i­nisc­ing, he con­tin­ued: "It was ei­ther Melody or Pre­tender who chris­tened me in ca­lyp­so. I was 16 and was called 'the 16-year-old won­der'."

De­but­ing at Vic­to­ry Ca­lyp­so Tent, lo­cat­ed at 100 St Vin­cent Street, Port-of-Spain, in 1954 with the likes of Pre­tender, Melody and Sir Gal­ba, Su­pe­ri­or sang How In­di­ans have pro­gressed in Trinidad. The fol­low­ing year, he per­formed at the Dirty Jim Swiz­zle Club, lo­cat­ed on South Quay. It was here he first met an­oth­er young, ris­ing ca­lyp­son­ian named Mighty Spar­row.

In 1956 he per­formed at The Young Brigade tent, housed at Good Samar­i­tan Hall on Duke Street, with Spar­row, Skip­per, King Fight­er, Melody and Strik­er. It was the year that Spar­row would win his first Ca­lyp­so King ti­tle.

Said Su­pe­ri­or: "1957 was a very sig­nif­i­cant year as I ini­ti­at­ed the protest against Mr Es­pinet of the Trinidad Guardian, pro­duc­er of the Ca­lyp­so King com­pe­ti­tion then, for giv­ing the king a mea­gre $40 while the Car­ni­val Queen re­ceived far more ex­pen­sive prizes." In Brass Crown he sang, 'She gets re­frig­er­a­tors, ma­chine, ra­dios and even mo­tor­cars; some­time a Sim­mons bed; and all the king gets was a brass crown on his head'.

"This song helped to crys­talise the de­ter­mi­na­tion of ca­lyp­so­ni­ans to get their just due," re­mem­bers Su­pe­ri­or. "A boy­cott of the Di­manche Gras show was or­gan­ised and an al­ter­na­tive com­pe­ti­tion was held at the Globe Cin­e­ma in 1957. The boy­cott prompt­ed the gov­ern­ment to form an or­gan­i­sa­tion to take over all Car­ni­val events at the Sa­van­nah and named it the Car­ni­val De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee (CDC).

"The Ca­lyp­so King com­pe­ti­tion was held at the Queen's Park Sa­van­nah in 1958 with the king get­ting a crown, $600 and The An­gos­tu­ra Cup as the first prize. This won by the Mighty Strik­er, singing Don't Blame the PNM and Can't Find A Job To Suit Me. Si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly, what was a racial­ly ex­clu­sive com­pe­ti­tion for the Car­ni­val queen was now opened up to girls of colour and, for the first time, T&T had its first black Car­ni­val Queen on the per­son of Pearl Mar­shall."

In 1959, Su­pe­ri­or was the first ca­lyp­son­ian to pro­duce his first record on his own la­bel, named La Carib. The songs were Spread Joy and Spar­row Gun. Mu­sic was by Cyril Di­az Or­ches­tra, with cho­rus by the March of Dimes.

Back in the day it was for­bid­den to sing ca­lyp­soes dur­ing the Lenten pe­ri­od or have them played on the ra­dio. All this changed in 1962 when Su­pe­ri­or sang Play Kaiso in Lent. Some of the song's lyrics were, "If a song im­moral doh play it no time at all; but in Lent they will play rock and roll, meringue and mam­bo; and, some of these songs more vul­gar than ca­lyp­so". Su­pe­ri­or said: "I made it to the Sa­van­nah in the fi­nal with that song but the re­cep­tion to it was luke­warm. One must re­mem­ber that we were a Chris­t­ian-based so­ci­ety so the peo­ple were not ready for such a dras­tic change to their age-old be­liefs."

In 1968, Su­pe­ri­or was the first ca­lyp­son­ian to per­form in Madi­son Square Gar­den, USA. Oth­er guests ap­pear­ances with him in­clud­ed Paul New­man, Ernest Borg­nine, Pe­ter, Paul and Mary. Su­pe­ri­or said: "We the artistes were sup­port­ing US pres­i­den­tial De­mo­c­rat hope­ful Eu­gene Mc­Carthy who was de­feat­ed by even­tu­al pres­i­dent Richard Nixon. I was spend­ing some time in New York then and I had a man­ag­er and PR per­son. They were con­nect­ed with Frank Sina­tra's pub­lic­i­ty com­pa­ny named Jim Ma­hom­ney & As­so­ciates, and that's how I got that book­ing."

In 1974, Su­pe­ri­or dropped out of all com­pe­ti­tions af­ter plac­ing fourth in the Di­manche Gras ca­lyp­so fi­nal, be­hind Mighty Spar­row, and Kitch­en­er and Shad­ow, tied for sec­ond place. How­ev­er, Su­pe­ri­or won the crown in the San Fer­nan­do fi­nal, beat­ing out promi­nent bards like Mae­stro, Mighty Duke, Black Stal­in, Ras Shorty I. The 1975 he re­turned to de­fend the San Fer­nan­do crown and won again. That was the end of him in ca­lyp­so com­pe­ti­tions.

In 1976, Su­pe­ri­or opened the coun­try's first year-round ca­lyp­so tent at Le­gion Hall, lo­cat­ed on In­de­pen­dence Square West, break­ing the tra­di­tion of lim­it­ing ca­lyp­so to the Car­ni­val sea­son. He al­so pro­duced the coun­try's first full length ca­lyp­so mu­si­cal–Ca­lyp­si­cal–in 1985 at Lit­tle Carib The­atre. That same year he was al­so the first ca­lyp­son­ian to per­form in a Catholic church, do­ing so at the Cathe­dral of the Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion, at the 20th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion of Pope Paul VI's en­cycli­cal Pop­u­lo­rum Pro­gres­sio. He sang Let There Be Peace On Earth, ac­com­pa­nied by Val­ley Harps Steel Or­ches­tra.

"I still do a lot of per­for­mances in church­es at Car­ni­val time, in church­es like St Patrick's, Cara­pichaima RC and Ch­agua­nas RC," said Su­pe­ri­or. "I do these fund-rais­ers to re­tain the spir­it of our mu­sic in the midst of Car­ni­val. I re­al­ly en­joy those per­for­mances, es­pe­cial­ly hav­ing the large au­di­ences, all seat­ed like if it is in Carnegie Hall. I be­came lit­er­ate and nu­mer­ate in the Catholic church so I feel that I must give back. I have al­so been do­ing this in church­es in New York. The priests would in­vite me to bring peo­ple to the church on Sun­days."

With a chuck­le he added: "De­spite this I nev­er want­ed to join the priest­hood."

Su­pe­ri­or has been mar­ried to Dr Janet Stan­ley for the past 40 years and they have one son, Mori­ba, and two grand­daugh­ters. Mori­ba, a mu­si­cian, lives in Cal­i­for­nia.

Ten years ago, when Su­pe­ri­or cel­e­brat­ed 50 years in the busi­ness, he was laud­ed by the In­ter­na­tion­al Mu­sic Coun­cil and the Ford Foun­da­tion, af­fil­i­ates of the UN, at a sym­po­sium held in Brasil on Ca­lyp­so and So­cial Jus­tice: Pre­serv­ing the Lega­cy. At this sym­po­sium Su­pe­ri­or was deemed "the great­est ca­lyp­son­ian ever," es­pe­cial­ly for his his­to­ry-mak­ing Brass Crown ca­lyp­so record­ed in 1957.

Af­ter re­tir­ing from ca­lyp­so com­pe­ti­tions, Su­pe­ri­or has kept him­self in the bel­ly of the art­form in many ways. He cre­at­ed the Vin­tage Kaiso Brigade in 2006, as well as the an­nu­al­ly held Cor­po­rate Ca­lyp­so Monarch com­pe­ti­tion, formed his band Re­flec­tions and per­forms reg­u­lar­ly at home and abroad. In 2012 he per­formed with In­ter­na­tion­al So­ca Monarch and Road March cham­pi­on Machel Mon­tano at Machel Mon­day at the Hase­ly Craw­ford Sta­di­um, with the likes of Pit­bull, per­form­ing a duet with Mon­tano of his Trinidad Car­ni­val.

In 2012, Su­pe­ri­or's ca­reer hit an­oth­er high point when he was in­vit­ed by US Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma to be a guest at the Com­man­der-in-Chief Ball, held at the Wal­ter E Wash­ing­ton Con­ven­tion Cen­tre Ball­room, in New York. This was pos­si­ble due to Su­pe­ri­or's poignant ca­lyp­so of 2008 Black Cof­fee, a com­po­si­tion which hailed the as­cen­dan­cy of Amer­i­ca elect­ing its first ever black pres­i­dent.

He end­ed: "I feel well sat­is­fied with my­self. I've made my VAT pay­ments and paid my tax­es. I have no med­ical or phys­i­cal chal­lenges; I am ful­filled and I thank God for that."
http://www.guardian.co.tt/entertainment/sixty-years-superior-calypso-6.2.390525.2c96d6a718

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