One parang queen says while the art form would have been impacted by COVID 19, she was pleased to see the efforts taken to keep the customary music alive during the Christmas period.
According to the lead singer of Los Alumnos de San Juan, Alicia Jagessar, in a year punctuated by a pandemic, even “parranderos” were forced into action to preserve the popular tradition.
“One of the beautiful things about parang this year that I saw was the passion parranderos had to ensure their music and their band were heard, they did a lot of home videos in their own spaces, they had their virtual shows, they were so creative in it.”
But it was a double blow to Jagessar’s Christmas spirit after Wayne Jagdeo, one the band’s founding members took on a new battle, “he was diagnosed with lung cancer, he has not been performing in the shows we actually had, he has had everything that goes along with the disease its been very hard for me emotionally.”
On Wednesday, the band staged a virtual tribute concert for Jagdeo and has also started a Fund me TnT page to raise the money needed to cover his medical expenses.
Jagessar said, “He was a teacher so you can imagine how many students passed through him, he was a CIC boy and Fatima boy, so there are a lot of people out there who don’t know he is unwell and we just want to make sure he knows that we love him.”
Persons wishing to assist Jagdeo can make contributions to Republic Bank AC# 340000991601.
Meanwhile, prior to the pandemic, Jagessar has also been working to safeguard the traditional elements of the music and is excited about what the future holds.
“I’m seeing it just blossoming into a musical expression that it will no longer be considered the bottom of the totem pole in terms of a musical expression.”
Jagessar said there were many elements to traditional paranging which were important especially on Christmas Day.
She explained, “There is a sequence, you cannot just end up in somebody’s home. When you reach in front the gate you have to sing a serenade asking them to let you in and real traditional parranderos will not open their doors if you don’t sing the correct thing. You must give that gift, the announcement, it is very important when paranging.”
“Cantando Gloria” is one of the most popular songs by the award-winning band, and with a thrust to preserve the art form, Jagessar was more than willing to share a few tips and lessons on the traditional music to this reporter.
However, after attempting to make my parang debut, I was told some more practice was needed.