PHILIPSBURG – In the spirit of Black History Month and as Sint Maarten continues to
acknowledge its rich, and diverse heritage, the Ministry of Education Culture Youth and
Sport (MECYS) is unveiling “We Story” The Collection. “We Story” is a compilation of
newly and previously written profiles/features (by cited & acknowledged authors) on
prominent and well-known past and current educators, artists, sports icons and
community pioneers that have contributed to Sint Maarten and its diaspora.
The objective of “We Story” The Collection is to bring about more awareness and
increase the visibility of the many facets of Sint Maarten’s rich and diverse heritage
through a series of press releases.
The art of being simple is an exceedingly difficult task. Clement Richards affectionately
known as “Kaiso Brat” The Emperor has ruled and won the crown just as much as King
Beau Beau. Kaiso Brat has been able to tap into the psyche of the St. Martin people by
being simple, which is not an easy task. In doing so every time he sings, he touches the
core of their being and they are able to relate to him immediately.
In a recent interview with the Department of Culture, Clement Richards also known as
Kaiso Brat shared details of his life as a calypsonian and community worker.
“I was actually born in Aruba and came to Sint Maarten at very young age, as a baby. I
grew in Philipsburg what we would call “Shockney Alley” and after we put some
excitement in the place, they translated that to “42 nd Street”. There was a movie theatre
and multiple restaurants in the alley. One year the route of the J’ouvert Morning Jump
up was changed and it passed through the alley sealing its folk name as “42 nd Street”.
He went on to say that, he started in music when the then music instructor Mr.
Larmonie of the Community Brass Band invited him inside the musical hall and asked
him if he liked music and what he could do. He replied, “Whatever you want me to do”.
He gave him two sticks called the palitos to establish his rhythm and timing and from
there he took interest in drums. He got the name “Brat” from always being amongst the
bigger guys because he was skillful in music and sports. He played with many bands over
the years including a special group called “Cool Creation”.
His inspiration for joining the Calypso field was motivated by his desire to beat “Genius”
who was one of the top Calypsonians of that era. He told his friends “I could beat that
guy”, the following year he entered the competition and did the song “Welding Torch”.
The late “Calypso Barbara” encouraged him to do conscious calypso. One of his big
tunes that he recalls is entitled “Africa”, it shook The Village to its core.
The Emperor like a good shepherd knows his flock and his flock recognizes him as soon
as he sings the first line of his song. Kaiso Brat has been in the kaiso field for 30 years,
making him one of the longest surviving kaisonians apart from having won the crown
multiple times tying with King Beau Beau for the kaisonian who has won the most
crowns. Besides, also with Beau Beau, Brat is the only other Triple Crown winner,
Calypso Monarch, Road March and the long defunct Antillean Calypso crown, all in the
“Kaiso Brat” has a great sense of humor and the people of St. Maarten / St. Martin look
out for him every year to do what he does best. Translating their thoughts into a lyrical
satire and at times a serious social commentary.
Unknown to many persons Clement Richards is also a community worker as he has
mentored and guided many youngsters from his neighborhood and different schools on
the island. He works with various teachers and law enforcement agencies as a guidance
counselor when called upon.
The Ministry of Education Culture Youth and Sport (MECYS) will continue to add to the
collection as information is researched and compiled from new and historical sources.