Friday 30 October, 2020

Rome aims to make parang show the Machel Monday of Parang

The Machel Monday of Parang.

That is Rome’s plans for his annual parang event which is entering its third year bigger than before.

Now called Parang with Rome, the event started as a backyard lime following a video shoot three years ago and has blossomed into a full event featuring artists such as Iwer George, Crazy, Kenny J, Marcia Miranda, Myron B and Amantes de la Musica, among others.

“My management, Perception Management, felt I had built up my catalogue to where I could have my own show and that I have built my career in the parang industry where I am respected by other parang artists so I can invite others to sing and be a part of the show,” Rome said.

Known for songs such as ‘Annie’, ‘Lickah’, ‘Spanish Parang’ and ‘Apoo’, Rome, real name Jerome Priscilla, has been the leading voice in the new generation of singers in soca parang.

He started singing soca parang six years ago when his producer and friend Mevon Soodeen sent him a riddim which he liked.

He didn’t intend to continue releasing songs annually but when he saw the response of his first single ‘Lickah’, he realised there was a market for it.

“When I saw the reception then I decide yeah this have something in it and I did ‘Loveable’.  All the time I was singing for free, in the first three years, any opportunity I got to perform I took it.  The strategy was that radio wasn’t playing the music and I was a new artist, nobody didn’t know who I was so how do I get my song heard? I went to every hole, hawk and spit, bar and Christmas concert just to get to perform and that paid off cause what that did is that it let DJs who played at the events hear it and they started to play it and then radio started to play it,” he said.

Stating that the ‘ground’ built him, Rome said Parang, unlike soca, is very much a music of the people and stays close to its roots in communities such as Lopinot, Paramin and Arima where it is performed in bars and open air events.

He said he also owes his popularity in part to the fact that he made his music relevant to his generation.

“I did it by tapping into the millennial generation because we grew up listening to Baron, Scrunter and those people and there was a gap because there was no new, fun, hip music so I started to tap into my generation and thought about what we liked and started to sing social commentary parang. I started to tell stories and I got that from Paul Keens Douglas because I was a big fan. I would watch his stuff and build a story. Sprangalang was a big inspiration with the ad-libs too.

“A lot of the DJs were from my generation on urban radio too and they started to play parang, new parang, and then with the advent of social media, every hit song I had I did a video to go with it,” Rome explained.

Rome has become such a big name in parang soca that it overshadows his soca career but he is so invested in the genre that he sees himself as an ambassador for the music and for Trinidad and Tobago especially coming off his stint as the Fun Director on the VH1 reality show Girls Cruise starring rapper Lil Kim, Chili of TLC fame and R&B singer Mya.

To that end, Rome sees vast potential for parang and Christmas to become tourism products that can draw may to our shores at this time of year.

He said: “We are supposed to be marketing Christmas here because it is very unique.”

Parang with Rome takes place on Saturday, December 21 at Woodford Café, Chaguanas from 9 pm.

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