We join the Art, the Music, the Family and all other communities of our country and the world in mourning the loss of Dennis Hall, aka Sprangalang. Sometimes called, Sprang or Draxi, the hallmark of his style contributed to Trinidad and Tobago music immensely, in several components—singing, acting, performing, directing, follkloring. He did this with the use of satiric humour and developed an intellectual picong. Sprang’s objective critique reached the “belly” of our identity and helped us to connect sometimes with history and/or ourselves. Many would have got it only after they had reached home. The historian in him may have caused his airing this concern, only a year ago:
“You can’t paint the real picture of calypso or Carnival because there is no proper documentation of the early days of the culture and the art form. I can’t even find recordings of Trinidad folk songs like those from the Mausica singers and Olive Walke. We run out of information. Most of the calypsoes Roaring Lion sang are melodies of Martniquan folk songs, and when you listen to Edmundo Ros slow songs, you hear Kitchener’s music. In Mas Camp we use to meet people talking those things!” Sprangalang, September, 2019 (Newsday tt)
Sprang was passionately calling out for us to take serious responsibility for the preservation of our musical cultural heritage and the institutionalisation of it in a way that all parts of his contribution and more could be accounted for with principled connectivity.
We urgently need to hasten plans for collaboration in twenty-first century museumising, which are grassroots initiated, open and participatory, because we are losing connectivity of genesis, currency and future of our heritage. The time has come to remove stereotypical views of our identity to make strongest public impact.
The failure to significantly pronounce an institution which prevails for our musical cultural heritage impedes the urgency to acknowledge our Creative (Musical) Arts as a provider of Soul. If spirts still linger we have Sprangalang’s blessings on this one.
We owe it to Sprang! Rest in Comedy.