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"SLINGSHOT" – A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS
A Short Biography by Dr. Parbudyal Singh
"Slingshot" may not be a Guyanese household name but it’s just a matter of time. There is little doubt that this self-made artist will turn many heads in the music industry, and yes, will make a lot of folks dance joyously. His music is appealing to people from all races, backgrounds, and cultures because it has rhythm and meaning. Listen for yourself and be the judge. This self-taught musician and calypsonian, whose raw and authentic Caribbean singing style imitates no one in particular, has a most colorful past.
"Slingshot" is sobriquet for John DrePaul, an affable and multi-talented Calypsonian, who grew up in Guyana’s rural Corentyne, Berbice, with No. 63 Beach as his backyard. This would later prove to be the ideal landscape and inspiration for most of his poetry, songs, and short stories. Living in a beach house at an early age, with no parental control and/or guidance, gave Slingshot the flexibility to juggle attending high school and performing with his string combo, The Lonely Bulls. Adding to his versatility, he led and managed a [precursor] chutney band, Sons of India, during the late 60’s.
Slingshot migrated to the United States in early 1970. There, he honed his entertaining skills in New York City’s Greenwich Village coffee houses, subways, and street corners. His resilience, confidence and charisma are reflective in the witty songs of his Guyanese heritage. As a soldier, stationed in Germany in the late‘70s, Slingshot sharpened his song-writing skills. They are reflected in his music and lyrics, which are insightful, satiric at times, romantic, wonderfully humorous, and spiced with Caribbean nostalgia.
During the early ‘80s, Slingshot and his band Tropical Waves enjoyed immense popularity among West Indian partygoers in New York. They were the opening act at Madison Square Garden for Jamaican pioneering dancehall reggae artiste ‘Yellowman’, along with Trinidad’s ‘Mighty Sparrow’ and ‘Calypso Rose’. In the mid-80s, with Signs of the Zodiacs, a Brooklyn based 13-piece brass band, Slingshot blossomed into a versatile, dynamic and innovative entertainer. He still credits that group with the disciplined brass arrangement that can be felt in his music.
This "man for all seasons" is presently promoting his 2 new CD releases: "Home Sweet Home" and "Jump for Carnival." [Slingshot re-released "Sweet Island Woman" in summer 2003].
Dr. Parbudyal Singh is Assistant Dean, School of Business, University of New Haven, Connecticut.
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