VERNA V. LEADER
From a very early age Verna followed the family tradition of community spirit and volunteerism.
As a teenager in St. Kitts, Verna exhibited leadership skills in arts and arts administration, and as a member of a YWCA Hobbies group, she organized a theatrical production and raised funds to send group of teens to participate in a youth camp in Barbados. Verna has performed various dance styles, ranging from ballet to St. Kitts traditional folklore and Caribbean folk. She was a founding member of Okolo-Tegremantine Arts Theatre and in 2013 she received an award for her contribution to the development of the organization.
Verna was a member of Chissamba Chiyuka Dance Group (Toronto). She was also one of the Co-Founders of Caribbean Dancers (Vancouver), along with Violet Haas of Trinidad. At the Vancouver Expo ’86, the group received the Best of B.C. Talent Show Award.
Verna joined OCPA in 1998 and she held various positions over the years: Board member, Chair of the Constitution Committee, Rehearsal Coordinator and Judging Coordinator (2003 - 09). She implemented new policies, procedures and guidelines, and reduced the wait time for the release of the competition results. The job of Judging Coordinator is one of the most difficult roles in the Calypso arena and required the patience and skill of someone like Verna, who is a Human Resources professional and is a graduate of York University Bachelor of Administration Studies degree program. She is also a Master Gardener and a certified Garden Designer.
Roger began his professional music career in Barbados at fourteen as lead singer / guitarist for the Merryboys – a teenage calypso and dance music quartet styled after the famous Merrymen, a band in which his older brother Chris played bass. Five years of performing, recording and touring the Caribbean with the Merryboys led to another 5-year stint with the Sandpebbles – a popular Caribbean dance band known for hits like “Sandra”, “Girl Ah Want It”, “Another Dream” and “I am A Barbadian”, classic songs still heard across the Caribbean today. The group toured the Caribbean, Canada and the U.S.A., sharing the stage with Caribbean greats like Kitchener, Sparrow, Byron Lee & The Dragonaires, Johnny Nash, Tomorrow’s Children, Kaliyan, and Jackie Opel.
Roger was a music producer of Barbados’ Carifesta 1981, a pan-Caribbean festival of hundreds of performers from over thrity-five countries. He was part of a team led by Elombe Mottley, whose efforts led to the renaissance of Bajan calypso in the 80's. He performed solo and arranged for local artists Gabby, Vern Best, Carolyn Leacock, Mark Lorde and is featured on Sach Moore's two “Best of Barbados” albums of the island’s top artists.
In Canada since 1986, Roger has been a popular performing artist in the Caribbean community. He also recorded and performed with fiddler Anne Lederman’s Come From Every Way band, lokembe master Achilla Orru’s Aapa Idomo and done recordings with Caribbean artist / producers such as Ossie Gurley and Eddie Bullen. From 1993-98 he directed a folk choir Banja that performed his own unique SATB arrangements of Caribbean repertoire. From 1995 to 2013, he was a singer with COBA (Collective of Black Artists), a Toronto-based dance/theatre company that has toured to Ottawa, B.C. and N.Y. State, and in 2008 to Jamaica and Trinidad.
He has produced several Caribbean shows for Harbourfront Centre, such as Carnivalissima Festival’s Calypso Calabash and Karibeatz (2007). In 2009 he was an Artistic Director for the Toronto Caribbean “Caribana” Festival. He has recorded two solo CDs – “Spirit of Calypso” (1999) and “Calypso Classics on Guitar – vol. 1” (2005).
Roger served on OCPA’s Board of Directors in the 90s when he introduced the concept of OCPA funding several Calypso tents, rather than manage it themselves. This model remains in place today. During his second stint as Director he initiated and produced the Calypso Stars concert in collaboration with Harbourfront Centre, currently Canada’s biggest annual concert devoted to new Canadian calypso.
He is lead singer / guitarist with Shak Shak - a classic calypso combo.
OSWALD “JAMESY” JAMES
Oswald “Jamesy” James has been and continues to be a constant presence in the world of calypso in Toronto and has made an important contribution to the art form in Toronto and Canada. He was a founding member of the Calypso Association of Canada, now named the Organization of Calypso Performing Artistes. Jamesy has arranged and scored music for most of Toronto’s calypsonians and worked as a back-up musician in the Calypso Tents and as Musical Director /trombonist for the Calypso Monarch of Canada competitions from 1981 to 1999.
The significance of Jamesy’s talent, influence and service to Canadian calypso has been aptly described by Pat Mc Neilly. “Jamesy has a clear distinctive tone to his trombone and has been able to use his vast ‘Trini’ band experience to ensure that those who practice the art form here in Toronto be musically legit. Calypso has a musical style of its own with cut-time notation and a unique form and phrasing. Jamesy is a master of the style and keeps us in check.”
Master musician, teacher, mentor, advisor, Jamesy’s bands - The Magicians and Soca Bunch - have had the honour of being the back-up bands for several visiting international calypsonians such as Shadow, Arrow, Duke, David Rudder, Chalkdust, Super Blue, and Explainer. As trombonist, he toured with Sparrow and the Troubadours and is featured on several recordings with Charlie’s Roots and several Toronto-based singers. Their achievements and enduring contributions have merited the recognition for Best Toronto Brass Band, Caribana Festival 1985
For more than two decades Glenda Bostic has been a constant presence in the calypso scene in Toronto. She has been a loyal and tireless volunteer with a genuine interest and love for the art of calypso. Glenda has served the calypso community in almost every capacity, from Hospitality to Management to Board of Directors. .
Glenda came to Canada in the 1960’s, bringing with her a strong faith in God, a sense of family and community, the love of her culture and its artistic expressions, and the desire to contribute to their growth and development in her adopted country. Glenda was a member of the Koral Cultural Association, an active participant in the management of the Ramajay Calypso Tent and other community organizations. She is one of the most valued members of the Board of the Organization of Calypso Performing Artistes, participating enthusiastically in every facet of the work, from the planning and implementation of programming to the complex activity of the Board’s current strategic planning undertaking.
Current President Colin Benjamin echoes the sentiment of all who have the pleasure of working with Glenda when he said, “your passion and commitment to OCPA is tremendous. Thank you for keeping us organized, informed, motivated and connected.” The “Grandfather of Calypso” in Canada, Juno Award winner John “Jayson” Perez refers to Glenda, with whom he worked for years, as “a diamond, a rare commodity… who’s very conscientious…gives and gives until everything seems right … someone you can count on.” Glenda has given a special gift to the community, her daughter Natasha, who has contributed much in her own right. OCPA and the calypso community are indeed fortunate to have Glenda and her daughter as part of our cultural landscape.
Natasha Bostic has been actively involved in the calypso community in Toronto from a very young age, contributing her time and administrative ability in various ways. She has volunteered and worked as a Stage Manager, Fundraiser, Producer and even Bartender. A tireless volunteer for all aspects of the Toronto Caribbean “Caribana” Festival through the years, Natasha has also served as President of the Organization of Calypso Performing Artistes on two occasions. She introduced many artistic improvements and organizational improvements, and professional development initiatives that included efforts to include children. Through it all Natasha has demonstrated her passion for the art form, the culture and the community.
JAYSON (John Perez)
Born in Diego Martin, Trinidad and Tobago, Jayson moved in 1969 to Canada and formed the Legends, a music band out of Hamilton. He taught steelband music as a credit course at L.S. Beattie Secondary School in Toronto (1984-91) and started singing calypso, going on to place second in the Calypso Monarch of Canada Competition. He later won the title in 1984, 1986, 1987 and 1988. Jayson was also a winner of the Calypso Monarch of New York Competition and won a Juno Award. Jayson has been a prolific composer, writing songs for Macomere Fifi, Canada’s current monarch. He wrote the songs that won the Calypso Monarch title in 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2001, and calypsos that won the Calypso Monarch of Miami Competition in 2001, 2002 and 2003.
Jayson also wrote the compositions that won the Pan Calypso Category for the Calypso Monarch of Canada Competition and compositions that won the Calypso Monarch of Edmonton (sung by the Spiceman). In 2003 he received a special award as a Cultural Icon of Canada at the Trinidad & Tobago Consul-General’s celebration of National Republic Day. He was co-founder and director of “Pass The Torch”, Canada’s first calypso music program for children and youth.