Thanks Dominic Kalipersad for your important profile on Billy. I have seen and read all the revisionist histories pedaled about our path to black consciousness as young Afro youth in Trinidad and Tobago, and little is ever said about this brother.
Billy Reece gave black urban youth a world voice and global space with the rise of black consciousness as popular art. It was from Billy we heard James Brown proudly declare, "Say it Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud", from Billy we heard Curtis Mayfield proclaim, "We are a Winner," and "We People who are Darker than Blue," and Aretha's "Respect," and all the anthems that moved Young Power and later Black Power movements.
In New York revisionist mischief again sidelined Billy through ignorance or deliberately false narratives about who pioneered calypso's resurgence in the 1960s, and especially as the seminal trailblazer in our musical odyssey on black radio. Billy Reece did it. Billy put calypso in rotation on mainstream radio in the Tri State area when Granville Straker was the recording and distribution source and sauce of our burgeoning Caribbean experience. Billy convinced Hal Jackson and Percy Sutton et al that calypso needed to be on WLIB-FM in Harlem (before it became WBLS and WLIB went on the AM dial).
Every week, Reece would come down to Straker, first on Nostrand and Macon in Bedford-Stuyvesant and later, on Utica Avenue in Crown Heights, for new music his four-hour calypso showcase. I remember the first Sunday a young Trinidadian with a dream to be on New York radio, Arnold Henry, dressed in an all white suit with a frill shirt and cummerbund and bowtie waited for Billy to show up to just sit in the studio and watch him work. Billy obliged and of course, Arnold went on to become one of the early radio voices of Caribbean music.
All the books, dissertations and accounts on the rebirth of calypso in New York City. But they fail to talk about Billy Reece, the Bad Lad from Trinidad.