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Bag has unique appeal

Local News 31 Aug, 2023 Follow News

Bag has unique appeal

Red Plastic Bag, RPB, or merely Bag, is one of the Caribbean’s most popular and respected calypsonian.  

The brilliant entertainer has won the Barbadian calypso monarch competition a record ten times. Hailing from the rural Barbadian parish of Saint Philip, RPB always has a large fan support when he performs against other calypsonians at Barbados National Stadium.

Born Stedson Wiltshire, Red Plastic Bag began performing in 1979. He combined the sounds of reggae and soca to set his unique style. His biggest hit, ‘Ragga’, (1995) has been recorded in several different languages. Typically of entertainers of his genre, song themes are about everyday issues, so typically ‘Holes’ complains about potholes.

RPB was born on 17 June 1961 in Bayfield, Saint Philip and typically began performing as a child. He first entered the Barbados National Calypso Competition in 1982 and became the youngest performer to win the crown, beating a host of seasoned calypsonians, including the reigning monarch Romeo and crowd favourite the Mighty Gabby. He sang his compositions ‘Sugar Made Us Free’ and ‘Mr Harding’.

Bag has won the Barbados calypso monarch competition – known as Pic O’ De Crop – 10 times After that first success in 1982, he went on to take the crown in 1984, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2009 and 2012.

An accomplished songwriter, Bag has recorded more than 20 albums and has written songs for many calypsonians around the Caribbean. A workaholic, his gruelling schedule involves travelling to the world’s major cities, performing on stage and at carnivals or conducting workshops.

He announced his retirement from competition after winning the 2017 Sweet Soca Monarch. Renowned for his support of less well-paid performers, last year he raised concerns about people in the entertainment industry not being paid during the pandemic, specifically producers.

“Very often we ignore them,” he said. “A lot of them are doing it and not being paid because a lot of the artists are unable to pay. We don’t pay attention to these people who put in a lot of the time and effort to produce this music, sometimes without getting anything.”

Like many in the entertainment industry, the pandemic hit him hard. “Imagine going from performing a whole lot overseas and then suddenly you can’t even leave the house. That was quite a shock, because for the last 30 years or so my entire life has been about travelling and performing overseas and not to be able to do it is really a shock for me.”

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