Profile of Steve Davidson Reid (King Flamingo)
Esteemed Patron for Nevis’ Culturama Festival 2023
Steve Davidson Reid, known in the calypso circles as King Flamingo, was born on November 3rd, 1956, to Austin and Maudina Reid. He is the eldest of four siblings and grew up in Craddock Road.
He attended the Charlestown Boys School, where he honed his debating skills by engaging in lively discussions with his close friends, such as ‘Webbo’ Herbert, Chevy Chiverton, Dexter Bowrin, and others. These skills proved helpful in the future as he used them to create and improve his calypso masterpieces. Additionally, Steve showed exceptional talent in mathematics, which eventually aided him in becoming a skilled mason and contractor later in life.
During his late teens, Steve was greatly influenced by calypsonians such as King Solomon and Harmony. He started refining his singing abilities by participating in various school and community events. During this period, the exceptional quality of his rich tenor voice began to be recognized.
In 1972, Flamingo participated in the Nevis Christmas Carnival Calypso competition for the first time. At that point, he did not have a calypso name. However, King Solomon suggested that he call himself “Flamingo” due to his stylish and well-dressed appearance. Steve embraced the name and has competed using that moniker ever since. He participated in the Nevis Christmas Carnival Calypso competitions in 1972 and 1974, achieving third place in both years and earning the distinguished title of second runner-up for each competition.
Following the tragic sinking of the MV Christena in 1970, a sense of despair swept over the Nevisian people, leading some to consider separating from their sister island St. Kitts. During the 1974 competition, Flamingo, along with Zhumbye Di Ggii and Zero, performed songs about the separation of Nevis from St Kitts, a sensitive topic due to the political climate of the time. Flamingo’s song, ‘March to Freedom,’ was met with an enthusiastic response from the audience. However, Flamingo, Zhumbye, and Zero had to flee after their performances due to the fear of police retaliation on behalf of Bradshaw’s administration. Flamingo remembers running through the pasture and hiding in a clammy cherry tree while his co-performers similarly had to make good their escape.
In 1975, King Flamingo debuted in the Culturama calypso competition and won the esteemed Culturama King title with his outstanding renditions of “Caribbean Culture, Beauty & History” and “Culturama Morning.”
In 2002, King Flamingo earned his second Culturama calypso crown with his songs ‘Father’s and ‘Law and Order.’ Throughout his calypso career, he was known for winning numerous ‘First Runner-Up’ awards, leading his peers to refer to him as the ‘First Runner-Up Guy.’ One of his most memorable first runner-up performances was in 1978 when he sang his hit song ‘Nevisian Pride,’ which many believed was the best song of the competition. Flamingo included this song and his other hit, ‘Sherry Oh Baby,’ in his popular album ‘Nice and Jumpy.’
King Flamingo is a well-known performer throughout the Caribbean, having graced the stage of the Trinidad Maljo Calypso Tent, which he shared with renowned artists such as King Short Shirt, Lord Nelson, Mighty Pat, Sparrow, Blakey, and Power.
Apart from his successful performances, he has mentored junior calypsonians, including his son Steve Jr., who won the Junior Calypso title four times in a row. He mentioned that he is open to mentoring young calypsonians but has high vocal standards. He emphasized that “if someone cannot sing in tune or has pitch problems, they should not come to him for assistance.
King Meeko and King Dis and Dat, who have been Flamingo’s fierce calypso rivals over the years, will attest that Flamingo’s golden, powerful tenor voice was unmatched.
Flamingo expressed disappointment that his music, including his famous song “Cherry Oh Baby” and other songs celebrating Nevisian culture and heritage, are played frequently throughout the Caribbean but rarely in his beloved hometown of Nevis.
In concluding an interview with the Research and Documentation Unit of the Nevis Cultural Development Foundation, Flamingo’s parting words were: “Calypso is really we ting, you know, black people ting, but we have strayed from it. Look at wha’ kinna music is taking over lately. I still go to the calypso shows. Any festival you go to in the Caribbean, the calypso show is still the number one show!”
Flamingo has retired from calypso and construction and lives on Craddock Road with his wife, Nola. Together they have a son named Steve Jr. and a daughter named Tamu.
On behalf of the Nevis Island Administration, the Ministry of Culture, the Nevis Cultural Development Foundation, and the Nevis Culturama Committee, we proudly salute Steve Davidson Reid, King Flamingo, for his years of dedication towards the calypso art form on Nevis. We cherish and value your efforts to promote and preserve Nevis’ rich cultural legacy.
May you have a long life and a fun-filled and enjoyable Culturama 49!