IT continues to be evident that since Mashramani originated in Linden, Lindeners continue to represent at all the national events and in many cases, bring home the crown. Other Lindeners who have proven to do this include Brandon Harding and Dianna Chapman. This year, however, the junior calypso monarch was no ordinary Lindener; he made history as the first visually impaired youth to master a soca stage and outperform his competitors.
Relon Sumner, of of Blue Berry Hill, Linden, continues to make waves in the music industry and only recently proved that he is up for the challenge of great things, despite being visually impaired. In fact, he is determined to use the stage to break down the barriers of what is needed to make it in the entertainment industry, more so the local one. He sees himself as the Stevie Wonder of Guyana, where he will continue to put Blue Berry Hill, Linden and the visually impaired community on the map, on regional and international stages.
At this year’s event, Sumner walked away as the junior calypso monarch, with his song ‘Celebrating’, which he wrote and composed himself, in one week. He competed against eight young people and raked in 251 points for his debut Mashramani performance. It was his determination to prove he is equal to everyone else on the stage, that made him put out an unbeatable performance for the judges. He was brave, energetic, consistent and vibrant. He mastered stage performance well with the help of a guide and kept the crowd entertained. “The reason why I entered was to showcase persons with disability, showing them that don’t limit your self, don’t stay down and say you can’t do it, despite you have any kind of disability,” he said.
Following closely behind him is his brother Roell, who also performs. The duo goes by the stage name ‘Original Lyrics’ and made their debut stage performance at the 2019 Linden Town Week opening with their first recorded song ‘Is town week time again.’ They have written over 25 songs and have also mastered the art of freestyling, wowing crowds with their ability to flow and rap in swift seconds. The brothers have also mastered the art of delivering music of different genres, including dancehall.
While Roell is a high achiever at the Mackenzie High School, Relon, unfortunately, had to drop out of Mackenzie High in the fourth form because of his disability. Despite not being able to complete his secondary education, he believes that music will be his gateway to success. “I always say, I want music to carry me at the top to really build my life… I’m just hoping to get to the top because that’s what everybody wants, to get to the top,” Relon posited.
The two of seven siblings work as a team since two others also suffer from low vision. Their mother Ronella Waldron was diagnosed with toxoplasmosis, a disease that occurs in foetuses infected with Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan parasite, which is transmitted from mother to foetus. In cases where the mother does not miscarry, the child may be born with severe and progressive visual, hearing, motor, cognitive, and other problems. Impaired vision, however, is most common. Her third son, Dimitry Waldron, also a high achiever at the Mackenzie High School, has low vision, but assists his brothers with writing their songs when they create and memorise the lyrics in their heads. “If we get a song that we want [to] write, we does memorise it first in we head and whenever it done fix up, we does sit with him and he does write it. Sometimes we do it by verse and then the chorus,” he said.
With assistance from their family circle, being visually impaired is far from a deterrent to the brothers who believe they will take Guyana’s music industry by storm.
Relon also placed in the top five of the senior soca monarch competition, raking in more points than veteran artistes who performed. He was also awarded best newcomer.