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“Bittersweet” time for some Catholic musicians

Sharissa and her dad, 'D'Gittaman'

The reality that there will be no Carnival this year has proven to be quite “bittersweet” for Catholic musician Enrico Camejo and his family.

“It really is …not only that, I’m unable to perform with my fellow band members and see over 10,000 hands waving and flags in the air…” Camejo told Catholic News over phone about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the 2021 Carnival season.

He also spoke of the “obvious loss” of income from the season, drawing reference to Bunji Garlin’s song ‘Heart of the People’ which underscores the wider economic fallout due to Carnival’s cancellation.

Camejo has been lead guitarist for The Asylum Vikings band led by Soca artistes Garlin and wife Fay Ann Lyons for a decade. This year’s Carnival would have marked 11 Carnivals with the band.

Of a typical season, Camejo explained he would normally perform sometimes forty shows, coupled with other productions.

“It is kind of hard because I’m a professional musician and I’m accustomed to having a certain income, living a certain lifestyle…my family had to reset and live differently because that income is not coming in.”

On the other hand, Camejo asserts that the ongoing pandemic has provided quite a humbling experience. “It brings us back to basics and allows us to appreciate what we have as well as what we had.”

Camejo’s sentiments also extends to his four children, Sharissa, Stefan, Sergio and Shane. Sharissa is the 2020 reigning Junior Calypso Monarch while brothers Stefan and Sergio are both Junior Soca Monarch title holders.

“We are in tabanca mode…I feel that way especially because I’m so involved … in their national competition.”

Camejo also serves as President of the Parents and Guardians of Schools Soca Artists Association.

Reminiscing on the vast change from last year’s season to the present, Camejo said that Friday, February 5 would have been the National Soca Monarch competition. Monday, (February 8), the Junior Calypso Monarch competition, the First Citizens/TUCO National

Junior Calypso Monarch competition, Tuesday, the National Chutney Competition, with the Junior Panorama finals taking place on the weekend (February 13 and 14)—a few of the many events the Camejo clan would showcase their talent.

Camejo further highlighted that Monday, February 8 would have been Machel Monday, a staple of the Carnival season.

“Everybody talking about Machel Monday and nobody talking about Junior Soca Calypso Monarch…a lot of the junior competitions, nobody talking about that. I know how my sons feel, left out…like the little space they had in Carnival had been snatched from them…. It feels like the children were left out…,” Camejo said.

Four-time Junior Soca Monarch champ, Sergio Camejo

He shared his vision of a virtual Carnival for children, if the pandemic continues in 2022.

While Carnival 2021 is cancelled, concerts continue virtually. Camejo said that while the Camejo clan “misses” how Carnival used to be, they have not been left out entirely. He said that the team at IEnt Live—a broadcasting and media production company invited them C to be part of Season 1 of the Carnival Champions League (CCL)—a three-week series showcasing the artistry of Carnival musicians in a competitive format. The first episode aired Tuesday, January 26.

“People have been watching and voting for their favourites. The three episodes that aired so far, the Camejo clan has won in each of the challenges they had,” he said.

Asked to share his thoughts on the conversation of Catholics in Carnival, Camejo pointed out that Carnival was born of the Catholic Church. Carnival, he stressed, is part of T&T’s history and culture. “Carnival is life, it’s an expression, it’s part of who we are,” he said.

While he acknowledged there are some who “overdo” during the season, and there are those who continue to see the bad in Carnival, “there is bad in everything.” “Why look for the bad when there is 93 per cent good,” he said.

He confirmed that he will be once again gracing the stage with the Asylum band for a live show titled ‘Verse’ at Queen’s Hall, Carnival Friday. Camejo mentioned while bandmates are happy to finally reconnect, they all remain cautious.

Camejo told Catholic News that his family, except daughter Sharissa contracted COVID-19 in September and were quarantined for 43 days.

On when to expect new music, he hinted while there is no pressure for the Camejo’s to release music on a competitive level, there are plans to, soon. Camejo, formerly known as ‘D’Gittaman’ will be doing guitar covers of songs under his rebranded name Rico DG.

“Rico D’Gittaman was too long a name. This is short and sweet,” he said.

By Kaelanne Jordan


Twitter: @kaelanne1