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Thursday, March 5, 2015


The past two weeks must have been an equally difficult and happy time for the musical Nestor Family of La Fargue, Choiseul. The head of the household Mr Francis Nestor (also known as Dadda, the Mighty Composer, Chappy or Castro) passed away suddenly at a time when his son, Niger was honoured and immortalised in the St. Lucia’s “Hall of Fame” for his outstanding contribution to Art and Culture.

However, the passing of Mr Nestor was not all in vain - for as far back as 1999, "Dadda" had been immortalised in song by Wévolucion, led by his sons Meshach (international reggae artiste) and Niger (cultural virtuoso).

“Greedy Joe” may sound too “revolutionary” (and one might add too perhaps too “controversial”) to be considered a fitting lifetime tribute to a loving father who was known for his "conservatism". If that view were just a “theoretical” fear, then that fear became a fact after Dadda’s death! Indeed, Meshach’s irresistible desire and wish to perform "Greedy Joe" as a fitting farewell tribute to his late dad during his official funeral service did not materialise because the Catholic Church denied him the permission to do so! It’s also noteworthy that Meshach like a prophet had also predicted that predicament in the song, when he said, “x-amount of culprits standing on the pulpit . . . and people cyan even make a speech”. Notwithstanding, the family has ruled that they will not disappoint Dadda and Wévolucion will perform “Greedy Joe” in a backyard cottage concert at home after the official funeral service on his behalf.

Whatever criticism one may level at the lyrics of Greedy Joe, the song in its entirety has to be accepted as a masterpiece (in both its conception and execution) with both symbolic and specific relevance. In the symbolic sense, Greedy Joe carries a message of oppression of the poor! In the specific context, it places the Wévolucion family in the centre of the oppression.

The song which was written and produced in the late 1990’s by the Nestor brothers (Meshach and Niger) has been a perennial echo across the Choiseul landscape; and because of its widespread popularity, it may arguably even be considered as Saint Lucia’s (and most certainly Choiseul’s) Reggae Anthem rendered by our reggae ambassador.

In spite of the denial by the Catholic Church to allow the rendering the song in church in honour of Dadda, one cannot deny the spiritual attachment that Greedy Joe has to the Wévolucion family and fan base. Indeed, the writer is of the philosophical view that one possible reason for all the accolades afforded to the song over time, may well be linked to the abundance of blessings it has received from the family for immortalising Papa – who was himself inordinately proud of the song being a tribute to him.

However, despite the dedication of the song to Dadda, it must be observed that the only the third verse explicitly refers to him:

“Sometimes ah bread and water; bread and yellow butter.
Mother couldn’t find a dollar, not even a quarter
Me tired old papa, him a bus driver
Worked hard fi di massa since machikalaba
Dadda didn’t reach far, got tricked by imposters
Dada lived a life he never seek de ole emperor
In a de struggle, me bredda and me mama
From de day we born, ah downpressor pon we shoulder”

Greedy Joe - which has been hitting the airwaves, dancehalls and indeed the international scene ever since it was released 16 years ago – is arguably Wévolucion’s flagship song.  One may claim that “New Vibes”, “Hail Him”, “Ethiopian Princess” are equally flagship songs; but what distinguishes Greedy Joe from them is its historical value and significance. While the song specifically puts into a historical perspective the economic trials and tribulations of Meshach’s family during depressive hard times, it easily relates to the poor and the depressed: 

“Every Christmas that come I see pigs getting fat, while poor people still suffer every day in a small shack; you and your family always fat like dat, while de youths in a de slums thin just like a wet rat; cyan buy a shoes to take a walk in a de park; cyan afford no shirt to put on their back; they looking fi a start and never get contact; you never put a penny in the poor man’s hat”.

It was also in those oppressive times that, Dadda, “the tired bus driver since machikalaba” toiled away for “Mr Greedy Joe” from Laborie for pittance that couldn’t sustain his family; so Meshach, his “bredda” (Niger) and his Mama (Raymonese) had to carry the burden on their shoulder to survive.

The song’s acappela-type vocals, infectious counter-metric rhythm and revolutionary lyrics punctuated by intervening the counter-intuitive drumming off beats and cross-beats along with a heavy reggae bass line (played by Niger), make Greedy Joe a reggae song with a unique and unparalleled St. Lucian flavour; and certainly a song worth listening too!

Dadda was proud of all those innovations in the song and he felt that he had left a special gift, a legacy – through Meshach and Niger - to us.

Of course, Dadda (himself) was a popular village musician who was known not only for his live public performances but equally for capability for his free-style compositions. He was called the Mighty Composer for his extempore ability to construct humorous calypso compositions - long before extempore calypso was officially “invented’. He was also regarded as the “Mighty Sparrow” of the village who rendered popular Sparrow classics like “Mae Mae” and “Jean and Dinah” with great versatility.

The entire Nestor family has music and culture running through their veins, thanks to Dadda’s inspiration. (Indeed, in the village of Choiseul, Meshach is compared to Dadda; and Niger is compared to Mama! Papa was a vocalist and guitarist in much the same way that Meshach is. Mama is a cultural activist and drummer for Clive Butcher’s quadrille band performing professionally in the hotel circuit; Niger is a cultural virtuoso.)

Therefore, it is not surprising that Niger excelled in music, art and culture to the point where he is now officially enrolled in St. Lucia’s cultural “Hall of Fame”.

A graduate of the Choiseul Primary, Howard Rosemond and Vieux Fort Secondary schools, Niger is currently employed as a drumming instructor with the St. Lucia School of Music. He is a founder of the folk/drumming group San Nous from Choiseul. He is the leader and bassist for Wévolucion; he is also a member of Chameleon Dance Troupe, Lapo Kabwit Drumming Ensemble (now Dezagweyab), Rebel Soul, Kronic Heights, Les Enfants Dancers and Silver Shadow Dancers.

He has performed locally, regionally and internationally in Festivals like Cropover, Caribbean Fusion, Grenada Expo, CARIFESTA, Commonwealth Drumming Festival, Francophone festival, New York’s Rockland County Festival, World Festival of Black Arts and Culture in Africa. There is absolutely no doubt that he has put our name on regional and international cultural maps and deserved the honour of the St. Lucia Medal of Merit.

Nigel is also a painter, printer, lithographer, graphic artist and sign painter. His home in Choiseul is graced with a few of his beautiful paintings.

In his short lifetime, he has won many awards including M&C Fine Arts Award (6 times) and CDF Festival Awards (2 times).

It was a matter of time that he was enrolled into St. Lucia’s Hall of Fame and this year Nigel won the Medal of Merit for his contribution to Culture and the Arts.

Congratulations to Niger and his family! Choiseul is proud of you just as we were proud of Dad. As the family prepares to pay  final respects to Dadda who will be laid to rest today, we also extend our deep condolences to the Wévolucion family.

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