The following is an excerpt from Steinberg Henry’s “Calypso Drift.” In this excerpt, author and broadcaster Alex Bruno speaks with June “Sandy” Soanes – a 2007 conversation. Here goes —
… I read a marvelous morning, even one bearing signs of an erotic linguistic unfolding on radio. Its spoken language continued to amuse me.
“When I came back,” she continued, “it was kind of difficult for me because I had left so long. Seeing that there were other women in the competition, I was a bit nervous. I was wondering if my people, if my fans still remembered me. And to tell you the truth, on the first night of showdown—one of two calypso tents—I felt great to see that my Dominican people did not forget me.”
Jah Lee, who lived in New York and Dominica, called from Dominica with tinges of a New Yorker’s accent. “Sandy, keep it up. I watched you last night.” Sandy, who had been living in New York until she decided to return, thanked her.
A female caller. “Hello, Sandy, morning. All you, run de song. I know you can do it. Man even doh you doh make it to get de crong, you will make it—at leas’ in my top ten you dere. And, Alex, lemme tell you something, Jah Lee didn’t go an compete, you know. De lady is an honest lady you know. De woman cut her neck long before deir judge tell her anyting, you know.” Hearing it spoken with so much energy, such incomparable vivaciousness, such water-clear tones and cadence with “man” at the beginning of the sentence, vellicated my passion for linguistic codes. Somewhere in my psyche, I knew there was something I was understanding better from a distance. To me, and I must stress to me, it was phonetically captivating.
Veteran calypso woman
Showdown calypso tent
June “Sandy” Soanes