DAVID MICHAEL RUDDER will be celebrating his 65th birthday with Rudder 6.5, a concert to be held at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on May 5, from 7.30 pm.
His publicist Dennis Ramdeen says in a media release: “Call him a griot, a storyteller, a sweet calypsonian. David Michael Rudder’s music is a unique blend of calypso, pop, jazz, and blues heavily influenced by the Shango rhythms of his childhood. It transcends boundaries of genre, culture, ethnicity, language and geography. His lyrics have so captured the essence of what it means to be Trinidadian, Tobagonian, Caribbean, human, that his songs resonate near and far.”
Singing professionally from age 11, Rudder, who grew up in Belmont, had a group, The Solutions, that did covers of American soul music while travelling around TT and the Caribbean.
After the group disbanded in the 70s Rudder went solo, and started performing his own songs.
Unknown to many, he also began working as an understudy of the great Trinidadian copper artist and carnival bandleader Ken Morris.
However, as a young adult Rudder took a job at the PTSC, working in the accounting department, while moonlighting as a background vocalist both at Lord Kitchener’s calypso tent, the Revue, and on recordings.
Then in 1981, he joined the popular soca band Charlie’s Roots, led by prolific musician Pelham Goddard. It wasn’t long before he teamed up with Goddard to write songs for the mas presentations of international artist and bandleader Peter Minshall.
The release of iconic album The Hammer in 1986 that comprised what many have deemed a string of calypso classics, among them The Hammer and Bahia Girl.
That year he became the first calypsonian to win Young King, Calypso Monarch and Road March, and, as well, was the author of the winning steelband Panorama song. Indeed that’s when Rudder’s career took off.
He soon signed with London Records in the UK and Sire/Warner in the United States.
In 1992, Professor Gordon Rohlehr heralded Rudder as “a mighty poet of a shallow people, in a savage time.” In songs such as Hoosay, Madman’s Rant, and High Mas, to name a few, Rudder has used his music to hold up a mirror to TT’s society, to plumb the depths of the region’s collective soul and to call attention to the plight of the oppressed in places such as Haiti and South Africa.
In 1996, he was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and in 2015, he was made an honorary doctor of letters (D.Litt) by the University of the West Indies (UWI) for his body of work and contribution to Caribbean culture.
Over the course of his career Rudder has released over 20 albums and performed in major venues across the Caribbean, North and South America, Europe, Africa, Japan and India.
His music has gone beyond its roots in the Carnival circuit of Trinidad, to movie and television soundtracks, music festivals around the world including Midem and Glastonbury, performing arts centres and university lecture halls. His call to “Rally Round the West Indies” became a unifying anthem for not only the West Indies cricket team, but the region as a whole.