Clarence Curvan
Clarence Curvan grew up next to the Old Brigade calypso tent on St. Vincent Street in Port of Spain where legendary calypsonians Lord and Lady Iere, Sir Galba, Spoiler, Spitfire, Growler, Lion, Attila the Hun, and many others performed. This generated an interest in music and he began playing the piano, but later turned to percussion (drums). In the late-1950s, Clarence accepted a request by Cyril Diaz to join his band's rhythm section. At that time, the Cyril Diaz Orchestra was the main backup band for many calypsonians, including the Mighty Sparrow. In 1960, Clarence started his own orchestra which included several musicians who would go on to achieve popularity in the local music arena: Beverly Griffith, Roy Cape, Ron Berridge. His first recording, "Teensville," was an instant hit and several of his recordings topped the local music chart, including "610 Saga." He later worked with calypsonians, including Mighty Power, Mighty Shadow, Nap Hepburn, and Lord Brynner. Curvan also played bass with Starland Steelband where he was the band's leader; however, he gave up playing with Starland to concentrate on his orchestra. In the mid-1960s, the Clarence Curvan Orchestra became the first sponsored dance band in T&T when it received the sponsorship of Fernandes Company, the distillers of Vat 19 rum. The band was later contracted to play at the Choy Aming Penthouse in Port of Spain. As band personnel changed over the years, Curvan's orchestra would retain other renowned musicians, such as Clive Bradley who replaced Beverly Griffith as keyboardist and arranger. In 1969, Clarence accepted an offer to take his band to the Bahamas where they accompanied visiting soul singers such as Clarence Carter, Johnny Taylor, Tyrone Davis, and Betty Wright. Clarence Curvan moved to New York in 1970, and he continues to be involved with music and culture. He has traveled the world as an unofficial Trinidad cultural ambassador and judge of calypso and steelband competitions in Europe, USA, and the Caribbean.
Compiled by Ronald C. Emrit