David Rudder

One of the few calypso singers to write his own songs, David Rudder (born: David Michael Rudder) helped to usher in a new era for calypso music. His many hits include "Bahia Girl," "Bacchanal Lady," "Panama," "Engine Room," "Rally 'Round the West Indies," "Knock Them Down," and "The Ballad of Hulsie X." The title track of his 1988 album Calypso Music remains one of the best selling songs in calypso history. The title track of his 1986 album The Hammer was covered by steel drummer Andy Narrell as the title track of his own album. Rudder's 1990 album, 1990, was named "best calypso album of the year" at the first Caribbean Music Awards at the Apollo Theater in New York while the title track was named "song of the year" at the Nefeita Awards. The following year, his album Rough and Ready received three Sunshine Awards. According to the Village Voice, Rudder is "the first of a new generation of calypsonians and he's opening up a whole new way to write, sing, feel and see the thing. His music transcends culture, race, and class. You don't have to be from Trinidad to feel the power and integrity of it. Things will never be the same again." One of nine children, Rudder hails from Belmont, Trinidad. Much of his early life was spent with his grandmother, a devout Baptist. The chanting of Shango Baptists remains the foundation of his music. Rudder's talents as a vocalist were evident from a young age. By the time that he reached his 12th birthday, he had already begun singing with a calypso band, the Solutions. Throughout his teens, he sang backup vocals in a calypso tent run by Lord Kitchener. He supplemented his income as a singer by working as an accountant for the Trinidad Bus Company. Recruited as a substitute for Christopher "Tambu" Herbert, lead singer of the popular Charlie's Roots, in 1977, Rudder impressed the group so much that he was invited to remain as a co-lead singer following Herbert s recuperation. Together with the group, he continues to perform for the Carnival productions of Peter Minshall. ~ Craig Harris

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