The Mighty Sparrow baptized in New York

The Mighty Sparrow, the undisputed Calypso King of the World, was baptized on Saturday at Far Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York.

According to the Searchlight newspaper in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Sparrow, 87, whose real name is Slinger Francisco, was “taken into the water of Holy Baptism by Vincentian Seventh Day Adventist Pastor, Claudius Morgan.” Morgan, a former calypsonian, carried the sobriquet “Samaritan Singer”.

The paper said that Sparrow, who now resides in Queens, was “dressed in all white” for his water baptism.

“He is now known as Brother Francisco (and is) a member of the Linden Seventh Day Adventist Church in New York,” the Searchlight said.

While celebrating his 87th birthday in July, the legendary Mighty Sparrow told the Trinidad Express newspaper that the felt “wonderful”.

The publication said that Sparrow, who was born on July 9, 1935, was expected to spend his special day listening to a radio i95.5 FM tribute, dubbed “Sparrow Day”.

The Express said the musical buffet, hosted by presenters John Gill and John Wayne, featured “a slew of (Sparrow) classics”, like ‘Jean and Dinah’, ‘Sa Sa Yea’, ‘Both Of Them’, ‘Drunk and Disorderly’, ‘Survival’, ‘Capitalism Gone Mad’ and ‘Education’.

Sparrow, who grew up in Port-of-Spain, the Trinidad capital, was born in the fishing village of Grand Roy, Grenada.

He moved to Trinidad and Tobago as a one-year-old with his mother. His father had relocated there in 1937.

Sparrow, who is also a songwriter and guitarist, is regarded as one of the most renowned and most successful calypsonians.

He has won Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival Road March competition eight times, Calypso King/Monarch eight times, and has twice won the Calypso King of Kings title.

In reflecting on his life and career, during his 87th birthday celebration in July, Sparrow told the Trinidad Express: “Everybody gone (passed on) and left me. Winsford Devine (celebrated songwriter who wrote some of his megahits).

“I was just looking at a video with Kitch (short for Kitchener, whose real name was Aldwyn Roberts) and I. We were dancing and carrying on on stage,” Sparrow said. “Now he’s gone.

“I was looking at another video, ‘We Are The World’. It has a host of performers like Shadow (Winston Bailey). Now he’s gone,” Sparrow added. “Guitarist George Victory, and artistes like De Fosto, Rootsman, Brigo and Penguin passed on.

“Sugar Aloes and Cro Cro are in the video. They are still here,” Sparrow continued. “It was a beautiful experience to work with all of them.”

In July 2010, the United States Congress listed Sparrow in its Congressional Record.

As the Caribbean community in New York, on July 9, 2010 celebrated Sparrow’s 75th birthday, Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D Clarke said that she ensured that Sparrow was listed in the Record.

In presenting a citation, then New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Sparrow “touched the lives of countless listeners.”

With his baptism Saturday as a Seventh Day Adventist, it’s uncertain if the legendary Mighty Sparrow will ever again sing calypsos to his legions of fans worldwide. (CMC)

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