In the spirit of Black History Month and as Sint Maarten continues to acknowledge its rich, and diverse heritage, the Ministry of Education Culture Youth and Sport (MECYS) is unveiling “We Story” The Collection. “We Story” is a compilation of newly and previously written profiles/features (by cited & acknowledged authors) on prominent and well-known past and current educators, artists, sports icons and community pioneers that have contributed to Sint Maarten and its diaspora.
The objective of “We Story” The Collection is to bring about more awareness and increase the visibility of the many facets of Sint Maarten’s rich and diverse heritage through a series of press releases.
The art of being simple is an exceedingly difficult task. Clement Richards affectionately known as “Kaiso Brat” The Emperor has ruled and won the crown just as much as King Beau Beau. Kaiso Brat has been able to tap into the psyche of the St. Martin people by being simple, which is not an easy task. In doing so every time he sings, he touches the core of their being and they are able to relate to him immediately.
In a recent interview with the Department of Culture, Clement Richards also known as Kaiso Brat shared details of his life as a calypsonian and community worker.
“I was actually born in Aruba and came to Sint Maarten at very young age, as a baby. I grew in Philipsburg what we would call “Shockney Alley” and after we put some excitement in the place, they translated that to “42nd Street”. There was a movie theatre and multiple restaurants in the alley. One year the route of the J’ouvert Morning Jump up was changed and it passed through the alley sealing its folk name as “42nd Street”.
He went on to say that, he started in music when the then music instructor Mr. Larmonie of the Community Brass Band invited him inside the musical hall and asked him if he liked music and what he could do. He replied, “Whatever you want me to do”. He gave him two sticks called the palitos to establish his rhythm and timing and from there he took interest in drums. He got the name “Brat” from always being amongst the bigger guys because he was skillful in music and sports. He played with many bands over the years including a special group called “Cool Creation”.
His inspiration for joining the Calypso field was motivated by his desire to beat “Genius” who was one of the top Calypsonians of that era. He told his friends “I could beat that guy”, the following year he entered the competition and did the song “Welding Torch”. The late “Calypso Barbara” encouraged him to do conscious calypso. One of his big tunes that he recalls is entitled “Africa”, it shook The Village to its core.
The Emperor like a good shepherd knows his flock and his flock recognizes him as soon as he sings the first line of his song. Kaiso Brat has been in the kaiso field for 30 years, making him one of the longest surviving kaisonians apart from having won the crown multiple times tying with King Beau Beau for the kaisonian who has won the most crowns. Besides, also with Beau Beau, Brat is the only other Triple Crown winner, Calypso Monarch, Road March and the long defunct Antillean Calypso crown, all in the same year.
“Kaiso Brat” has a great sense of humor and the people of St. Maarten / St. Martin look out for him every year to do what he does best. Translating their thoughts into a lyrical satire and at times a serious social commentary.
Unknown to many persons Clement Richards is also a community worker as he has mentored and guided many youngsters from his neighborhood and different schools on the island. He works with various teachers and law enforcement agencies as a guidance counselor when called upon.
The Ministry of Education Culture Youth and Sport (MECYS) will continue to add to the collection as information is researched and compiled from new and historical sources.