3canal is a powerful rapso trio and group of Caribbean cultural warriors from Trinidad & Tobago. The group consists of Roger Roberts, Wendell Manwarren and Stanton Kewley.
Rapso is a form of Trinidadian music that grew out of the social unrest of the 1970s and is considered the next evolutionary step of Calypso and Soca music. In the 70s, the rise of the Black Power Movement and unions grew and rapso became popularised because of this. The genre of music, Rapso, is considered conscious music and has philosophical values. It has been termed “The Power of the Word in the Rhythm of the Word”, “The Poetry of Calypso” and “The Consciousness of Soca.”
3canal’s members were all involved in theatre and carnival arts, even working in mass camps under renowned legend Peter Minshall. The group started in 1994 as they were looking for a way to express themselves in the Carnival and cultural scene. They came together to start a J’ouvert band, stylised Jouvay by 3canal, “Jocks to Pose”, which featured about 30 members.
After the success of their Jouvay band, the group began their musical journey in 1997, with their first song, “Blue”, being released that year. “Blue” remains a major hit for the group and a Carnival classic to this day. The video below also features and portrays where it all started for 3canal, with a Jouvay inspired music video. Jouvay and Rapso go hand in hand for 3canal.
In 1999, 3canal would go on to make another notable hit, “Talk yuh Talk.” A song that became an anthem to the voiceless and disadvantaged.
3canal’s members have said that their beginnings in both J’ouvert and music were to provide a platform and a voice for the problems faced by artists coming from a place where the odds are stacked against them. Rapso allows powerful statements with infectious music.
Not only involved in music and J’ouvert, the group is involved with hosting workshops and labs that involve and encourage the youth to participate and use the carnival arts as a means of expression and empowerment. In 2014, 3canal created the Big Black Box, a space where young people could create and explore the different art forms and express themselves freely.
In 2004, 3canal started their own musical production, The 3canal Show, a performance extravaganza collaborating with groups of young artistes in a Performance Workshop Lab, combining the disciplines of Theatre, Music and Mas. The show occurs annually and has become a fixture of the Trinidad Carnival Season. On the 25th anniversary of 3canal and 15 years later since their first show, in 2019, 3canal rebranded the show as “Zingaytalala.”
Zingaytalala was inspired by 3canal’s means to bring back the traditional roots of Carnival. Zingaytalala is an old folk song and traditional stick fighting chant often sung in the gayelle. 3canal describes Zingaytalala as: “A cry from deep from within, an old stickman chant, a reckoning Zingaytalala is a cry from the spirit, a shout from the soul, a cry for healing, a call to the world to do more and be more, for the good of the whole.”
The 3canal annual Carnival show is intended to bring back the old traditions and customs of Carnival. Members of 3canal believed that youth were losing, or did not know, the roots and history of Carnival. The show featured an ensemble of traditional Trinidadian ‘mas’ characters, “Baby Dolls,” “Midnight robbers” and “Dame Lorraines.” The members of 3canal hope that Zingaytalala will keep the history of Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival Culture alive.
In 2020, Trinidad and Tobago celebrated 50 years of the Black Power Movement and 3canal put on a special show entitled, “Revolution Time.”
In 2021, 3canal continued with Zingaytalala and broadcasted the event on television and made it available online.
More than 25 years later, the group remains together and has produced more than 10 musical albums and over 15 J’ouvert bands.
So remember, if you plan to visit Trinidad and Tobago for Carnival and you want to truly ‘live like a local’ and to be ‘in the know’, the 3Canal Carnival show is not to be missed!
Joie-Marie Poon-Angeron is a graduate of the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. Joie-Marie is passionate about the arts and culture. She loves the multi-cultural dimension of the Caribbean – whether it’s music, film, art, food or fashion. She is the Social Media Engager at Leve Global and Exceptional Caribbean.