It’s a helluva thing. I just finished writing about Ella Andall for the latest issue of Caribbean Beat. That article was an expression of exactly ten years of awe and admiration for this cultural icon, which began with this very same Carnival and Calypso season in 1997. So this video (as I hope against hope that it is posted legally and will not disappear as quickly as it appeared), is a treasure.
The stage, quite literally, is the sprawling Carnival stage at the Queen’s Park Savannah, venue for the Dimanche Gras Calypso Monarch finals in 1997. Ella’s “earth music” has seldom been comfortably classified as Calypso, making her debut in the Calypso Monarch finals itself a momentous event. What’s more, this was one of only two appearances on this hallowed stage (and which earlier this year was torn down, to be replaced by something swankier by 2009). And perhaps even most remarkably for me is how this stage – perhaps most for its lack of intimacy, its patriarchy, and its unfailing politics – somehow seems to “restrain” (for lack of a better word) a woman who is a force of nature.
Here she performs one of her classics, “Say My Name”. Back as a teen (eh-hem), it certainly made me sit up, listen…and begin to search for a way to identify myself as a Caribbean woman.