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QUEEN OF PARANG



By Louis B. Homer, historian, Trinidad and Tobago



 



(From the July-December 1991 issue of
 
Caricom Perspective
 published by the Caricom Secretariat)

Reproduced on Silvertorch with permission


Daisy Voisin was a deeply religious and devoted person to La Divina Pastora (The Virgin Mary of Siparia). Siparia is a rural district in the south of Trinidad. When she ended her mortal reign on August 7, 1991, she was returned to the same church where she had received a message eighteen years ago. The mes­sage was to spread the Gospel of Parang through the world.


 Born at Carapal, Erin on 23 September 1924, she was the youngest of six daughters born to Juliana and Mathias Voisin. Juliana, her mother, came from Tocopito, Venezuela. Mathias, her father, was of French origin and he came from Arima. 


It was from her humble home at Coora Road, Siparia that Daisy began laying the foundation for her parang throne. Her interest in parang can be traced to her parandero stepfather and later to the Siparia Village Council where she was a chorus singer and musician in the 1960s. 


In 1968 she joined the Siparia Village Council and sang with the Siparia Cho­rale, Fyzabad Choir and the Morne Diablo Group. 


Her claim to fame came in 1971, when she replaced, because of illness, the lead singer of the Siparia Chorale in the Best Village competition. After that perform­ance there was no turning back for Daisy. She proved, in the years that followed, to be the undisputed Queen of Parang. 


As a leading cultural personality she became a household name not only in Trinidad and Tobago but throughout the West Indies where her group, La Divina Pastora Serenaders, performed to large audiences. In 1982 she received the Parang Association’s highest award, a gold medal. This was followed in 1988 with a Na­tional Humming Bird Silver Medal by the Government and one National Parang Association of Trinidad and Tobago Gold Medal for her contribution to parang. 


To see Daisy on stage was an exciting cultural experience. She was explosive, vivacious and tempestuous. She enjoyed every moment on stage. The fame of Daisy and the La Divina Pastora group took them as cultural ambassadors on missions throughout the Caribbean, Margarita, Venezuela and North America. 


She had created such an impact with her performances that she became the most sought-after parang voice in the nation. Her compositions include Sereno Sereno; Daisy Voisin; Daisy, Daisy, Daisy; El Nacimiento de las Verdad and the very popular Alegria, Alegria. She recalled that her most memorable occa­sion was when she sang “La Historia Trinitaria” for former Venezuelan Am­bassador to Trinidad, José Echevaria. 


Although a talented musician and singer, she never allowed popularity to get to her head. She was simple, yet sophisticated. Her voice had a rich tone which provided auditory excitement. Her tunes were always up-tempo, emotive and dramatic. The peak of excitement was reached with her customary expression “Aiyee”. 


In 1990, she made her last trip to New York. She died on 7 August 1991. 


As a true exponent of the art of parang, she was truly the Queen of Parang. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen! 


Daisy came into the association, she had been a vibrant, authentic parang singer. Her lyrics always reflected something about Christ and religious thoughts. Her melodious voice, her charm when she swung that bouquet three times in the air before she began her performances, held her audience spellbound. She was an ideal parandera. She entered this coun­try’s Hall of Fame and national tribute should be paid to her in some form, whether it be a statue in Siparia or what­ever. 


Parang 


Parang was introduced in Trinidad by the Spaniards during their occupation (1498-1797). Regarded as a classical Christmas music, it comprises Spanish lyrics, Venezuelan music and Trinidadian rhythm. This combination has produced, over the years, a traditional flavour to our Christmas celebrations, without which Christmas in Trinidad will not be the same. 


The word PARANG represents as adulteration of the Spanish word PARRANDA. It depicts music, musical instruments or dances. It also means to wander without a fixed destination. 


Parrandoros are those who participate in the celebrations. They live in the agricultural districts of north and south of Trinidad. But so effective are their presentations that during the parang sea­son (mid-October to January) they penetrate, stimulate and satisfy the cultural hunger of the masses, regardless of race, colour or status. 


Parang is one of the brightest colours in the cultural rainbow of Trinidad. The singing, dancing and other movements which are associated with parang are completed with traditional instruments like the guitar, cuatro, maracas and man­dolin. Within recent years, new instruments were introduced. They include the violin, box base and flute. 


Parang music consists of aquinaldo or serenal. This is sung on arrival at a home. It is followed by the guarapo. The manzanare is sung at Christmas time.