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Jul 11, 2017

The ‘Grandmaster’ is honored with new DVD

In chess, the title grandmaster is the highest awarded and once achieved, is held for life. It seems an apt description for Belize’s own Leroy Young, though his specialty is in dub poetry. He has released numerous compilations of his work, held a coveted television spot for several years and toured around the world at the height of his fame. Today his peers and benefactors paid homage at the Image Factory on the presentation of a new DVD and News Five’s Aaron Humes was there.


Aaron Humes, Reporting

He may have been “Made in Pinks Alley,” but Leroy ‘Grandmaster’ Young belongs to all of Belize, and even he was overwhelmed at the level of support shown to him at the Image Factory this morning on the release of his “Poet of Pinks Alley” DVD.


Leroy “Grandmaster” Young, Poet

Leroy "Grandmaster" Young

“Dah wah whole different chapter again; ah di go through so many phase and chapters but today was really important because it gave me a real sense of purpose, a sense of being; and seeing that so many people recognize, finally, dat yes da me this – this dah weh I love do and this da whe I wah die di do. Wah lady seh why I no stop talk – I tell ah if I stop talk then ah dead, because my mouth da like my lungs, I have to breathe. And when I breathe I breathe it in words and lyrics and through my poetry. But it’s amazing to see how much people appreciate my journey.”


That journey has taken him to Europe and South America as well as Birds’ Isle and the Bliss Institute. Long-time fan and former NICH president Yasser Musa, who compiled the DVD and conducted a full-length interview with Young, admits it was tough to choose the twenty-two performances that became part of the anthology.


Yasser Musa

Yasser Musa, Producer, “Poet of Pinks Alley”

“Before the “Grandmaster” a poet was paper; a poet was somebody that is in a book. But he has now transformed the status of the poet; he has made poetry mainstream by his sheer skill of delivery. He is the quintessential poet of voice – even before def poetry and all of that, he was doing that stuff ten years before them. So I agree with you, it was very difficult to summarize his life; we only selected twenty-two poems of his recordings, but as you say they are the best of the best.”


Young was joined on stage at the Image Factory by a few of his contemporaries, including Kyraan “Kyo Di Assassin” Gabourel.


Kyraan Gabourel, Dub Poet

Kyraan Gabourel

“Grandmaster is like a mentor to a lot of us; so it’s the foundation that he laid – if he never laid this foundation, then none of us would be here standing today in front of you, spewing whatever our truths may be. Our truths may be different but then it all comes back to the passion, which is the word – your truth, your personal truth, and bring that truth to the world, because a lot of writers have a lot to say but they don’t get that platform to say it or they are too shy to say anything. His ability to freestyle – because if you would take his written words from his books and you would listen to the recordings from his album, you would see that every time he performs his poem it is not the same poem. So he always embellishes on his poem and that ability to freestyle is a unique gift. A lot of different writers may just perform the same thing that they have written down but they don’t have that ability to freestyle. It’s something that, like he said, he was a rapper; so that skill he took forward in poetry and that is very essential in spoken word – the ability to freestyle.”


The recent fire victim is hardly ready to hang up his microphone – in fact, he will be taking on the challenge of stage acting in a play produced by the revived Square Peg Players at the Bliss soon. His circumstances may have changed, but his passion has not dimmed.


Leroy “Grandmaster” Young

“Ih noh change, it just get rearranged. And then you take whatever they throw at you and you make that into a stew that will fit you – food for the soul. Deh just say, ‘lights, camera, action,’ and Grandmaster will take over – because you have Leroy Young and Grandmaster; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, you know what I am saying? Split personality, and that da me – once I deh front of the camera,  I wah be Grandmaster.”


Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.


Today’s event was part of the Image Factory Lab4 presentations. News Five’s own Rick Romero and Brent Toombs were credited videographers for the performances featured on the DVD.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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