Twice great in Havana
Local Vibes
December 1, 2006

Twice great in Havana


HAVANA – The duo Ken Isles and Son is still being talked about in Havana following two stellar performances here.

Ken, playing his trademark tenor steel pan and accompanied by two sequencers and his son Mark on lead vocals were in town as guests of the Embassy of St Vincent and the Grenadines as part of 27th Independence celebrations on November 1.{{more}}

The first commemorative activity, held one week after the actual date of the country’s Independence had an audience from Havana’s 120 diplomatic missions and international organizations and Cuban government and non-government organization officials. As one Cuban official described it, one felt a special magic from the time Ken Isles began intoning the first notes of Cuba’s National Anthem. His execution to the end of the Cuban call to arms was impeccable and this shocked both the Cubans and diplomats present many of whom had never seen a steel pan up close or ever before. Ken Isles’ version of the National Anthem of SVG, which followed, similarly brilliantly executed, was roundly applauded.

The dynamic father and son duo demonstrated the strength of Vincy music when with a repertoire of Soca, totally unfamiliar to their new audience they kept the patrons dancing throughout their two hour set. To have usually reserved diplomats and officials dancing was an achievement of note.

The experience was similar when the duo performed for Havana’s Caribbean Association of Cuba on Saturday 5th November at a political and cultural activity organized in honour of the joint Independence of SVG, Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica.

This time the audience comprised descendants of West Indians who came to Cuba in the 1900s and stayed on, founding this Association and erecting in 1930 the building where the activity was held in Havana. Students from the countries being honoured and other CARICOM region members were present for what turned out to be a regular Caribbean fete following addresses from Ambassadors Dexter Rose and Bruce Goodwin of SVG and Antigua and Barbuda respectively.

Following the performances several Cuban officials eagerly asked, how soon are they returning.