Calypso King of the world Slinger Francisco, more commonly known as The Mightly Sparrow
MZM: Mighty Sparrow, what brings you to New Jersey at this time of the year?
SPARROW: Well you know this is the time of year where everybody celebrate and its coming close to Labor Day , and this is one of the opportunities that Ive had to come to New Jersey to do something. Im right across the river in New York and many times New Jersey have the activities and I dont get a chance to come. This is one of the times that I am here.
MZM: The last we saw you at NJ PAC sometime last year and I figure that this man could have been at any place in the world he wants, but here he is spending time here with us. We want to thank you for spending time with us then and we want to thank you for coming now. Is there anything new? What do you have in the works?
SPARROW: In the works, Im on the gospel scene. Calypso gospel which I call Gospelypso. Stories from the bible and thats the latest inspiration that I have.
MZM: Is that a natural progression? I mean, youve come a long way from talking about Jina and Dina and now youre talking about God. Whats the change?
SPARROW: Well, call it a complete circle. I started in the church. This is where I started by singing and learning voice control and things of the sort. I never thought it would happen like that to get that inspiration and its a whole CD, everything has to do with the bible: Nebukenezzar, the wisdom of Christ, the Miracles of Jesus, Tell St. Peter, Render unto Ceasar, you know all different things. I wasnt even thinking about then. I was thinking about something I could WOW them with in the calypso. Inspiration is a funny thing you know. If it tries to lead you, if its leading you, you just follow.
MZM: I know that calypso Rose has been also dabbling in this area, is there any gospel connections?
SPARROW: Rose likes to do some of the same things and some of my friends from Jamaica; they all do the same thing.
MZM: Like who? Will they be on the project or are you by yourself?
SPARROW: No, no, no, this is all they and me have done their thing by themselves. Colleen Davis did one, Papa San, Frankie Paul; Walking on the Kings Highway, I love that. I have done mine and I thought well maybe it would be like I did in the beginning with, Hello people, Maybe you dont know you are going to reap what ever you sew, and Save the World. Give them a little touch here and there then I give you a serious tune called Salvation. I was just trying to look at the reaction of the church people to see how they would react to that type of music being sung in calypso and the reaction was good. Then David Ruther came and he had a masterful hit something called, Give Praise. I guess this is what made me make up my mind.
MZM: Lets go back. You were born in Grenada and you went to Trinidad.
SPARROW: Granroi Grenada.
MZM: You went to Trinidad at an early age. What brought you into this type of music? I know youre from Trinidad but not every one in Trinidad is a Calypsonian.
SPARROW: Well in the same way not everyone in the South Bronx or New York or Miami or LA in into rap but some are, Im among the some.
MZM: Was there any special inspiration. Something traumatic or something joyful that happened that brought you into this area.
SPARROW: Well all I can tell you is it brought joy to me when I first started listening to calypso music this brought something that I never knew existed in me. I couldnt even describe it up till now.
MZM: What are some of the important arrangers that youve worked with over the years?
SPARROW: Well, I worked with every important arranger. Frankie Macintosh, Lestin Paul. Bert Innis, Searia Diaz, just to name a few. There was Frankie Francis a whole lot of people more all the guys, all the guys.
MZM: Now youve done so much and produced so many great works. Is there any thought of retiring at all.
SPARROW: Sure, but every time I think about it I wake up and go back to doing what Im doing.
MZM: This is the thing that keeps you living forever.
SPARROW:I think so , I think so. Retirement is when you dont want to do anything. Retirement, you buy a big mobile home and you go traveling around or you buy a little yacht and you go out fishing. I dont like them things. Just what Im doing is what I like.
MZM: I often remark to my friends how good you look and I always say I want to look good like Sparrow. I want to be looking like him when I get to your age. ( Laughing)
SPARROW: When you get to be this age.
MZM: How do you do it?
SPARROW: You first have to do what you feel and as you grow older you get to realize that what you used to do at 19 and 29 in terms of overindulging. You cant do it at 49 and 59 and if your lucky you might reach 69 like me. Some people look at me and say how it feels to be 69. I say are you talking about my age or something else. I dont know because these guys out there, they are pretty cleaver.
MZM: Well, there you have it New Jersey we are talking with the greatest of the great, the Mighty Sparrow himself