Another calypsonian bids farewell
Last Wednesday Booplay was laid to rest joining Spider, Idol, Sty, Courager, Charmer, Man Himself, Wazim Pac and Calypso writer Allan Jno Baptiste as citizens of the Great Beyond in just a 10-year span.
Indeed captain Booplay "is not there" and has left vacant the pilot's chair, that big calypso ship for others to continue to steer, not by remote control.
He was easily Dominica's most fearless and confrontational calypsonian echoing sentiments of his writer, an extension of his own convictions on politics or social events. If you have something controversial or direct to say Booplay would not shy away as others had.
From his first year when he competed in the big leagues he came with a bang with "Some of us have to stay at home." At home to sing of the wrongs and steer "Air Dominica" on a path of truth and prosperity.
Michael LaFleur (his official name) really started his career in the Business Houses Competition which he won after his natural tone captivated many. Hence, not surprisingly he instantly became a force to be reckoned with. In fact I would dare to say that in Mas Camp, notwithstanding the consistency of Bob or the dynamism of Sye, he posed the greatest challenge to King Dice.
Firstly his voice ALONE could rival the eight-time king; it was not a soulful-tone as that of 'De Bobb' but it was forceful, clear and melodious so he did not and never did much on stage while he sang.
A mere tip-toe, quickly emulated by the 2016 Calypso fans on the word " Air" in "Air- Dominica" was sufficient to elevate him to the fourth position after have a less than mediocre number in the second round of the 2016 Calypso Finals. Few could perform such a feat. For the second time in his career, he had the most popular calypso in a Calypso Finals.
Booplay was the only calypsonian that I felt surpassed King Dice in Mas Camp with mega hit "Pirates of the Caribbean" only to ask US President Bush to "leave Saddam alone" in round two. The fans could not believe it and cried foul at one of the weakest second round compositions presented in recent history – it was a pivotal moment in his career, when I think he lost out on the crown.
Thinking about it, in retrospect, while he was never a mover on stage and depended on his voice and charms, the movement was even more limited this year. I subsequently found out that he was ailing during this period but his love for the art form, his fans and general optimistic view of life kept him 'air borne.'
How many calypsonians would dare sing "Kranana "or "Cheap cars"? No wonder ace Calypso writer Pat Aaron will remember Booplay as one of his most committed artistes and one who is so easy to work with. Not one to complain about lines or verses but he was all about delivery. Yet for Michael 'Booplay' LaFleur there was no malice, it was just a song and he was everyone's friend- as usual.
Writers like myself only know too well of singers who can't write a line to save their lives but when you do, they want to tell what should be said and how to say it. No, not Booplay for although he was a decent writer and musician himself he felt he was best at execution and left the compositions to those who were better at it. And in his case Pat Aaron. At one time I offered him a second song and although he thought it was better he argued that he was committed to his writer- such loyalty which so many refer to as stupidity is indeed rare in mankind today.
Well, I am no priest and I have no such authority to tell you at the funeral service how good a guy he was or to request prayers on his way to heaven; however, all I'll say he had his flaws, public and otherwise, as all humans. I can only wish as he had the time, that he made wrongs right as it is not sufficient to complain of man's misdeeds only in song. We must live it every day, and recognize that we are all just passing.
I empathise with family and friends particularly his son Okan, my past student; Calypso will miss Booplay but there will be others as he has left it in a healthy state. Therefore, the art form won't have to travel by remote control.
May his soul rest in peace.