ORANGE, NJ — Greg Cespedes graduated from Irvington High School in 2012, but he had his first star turn on Saturday, Aug. 5, at Orange’s annual Caribbean Heritage Festival and Parade in Monte Irvin Orange Park, where Guyanese singer Shelly-G invited him onto the to show off his whining skills.
Whining is a form of dancing that is a staple of Caribbean music from reggae to dancehall, and Shelly-G said she wanted to find out if any native-born Americans had the chops to stay true to their immigrant heritage. Cespedes is American with Costa Rican heritage, and Shelly-G really put him to the test.
“I’ve been coming to America for a couple of years now and the one thing that I’ve never experienced is a white man that can whine with me,” Shelly-G told the audience packed into the north end of Monte Irvin Park for her performance. “I want to know if there is anybody out there that can whine with me. Show me what you’re working with.”
Cespedes accepted Shelly-G’s challenge and she admitted he had the skills, saying the dancing was all in good fun and part of her standard stage show.
After performing some of her most popular hits, she closed out her show with the fan favorite, “Touch Me,” to spice up the family-oriented event.
“I just killed the stage in Orange Park,” Shelly-G said after the show. “I loved it. It was good. It reminded me of home. A second home. Guyana will always be my first home.”
According to Lady Ira, president of the Guyana American Heritage Foundation who helped organize the Orange Caribbean Heritage Festival, Shelly-G will be back in New Jersey on Saturday, Aug. 26, at the Music and Jerk Festival at College Park in Orange.
“So come out and celebrate and meet all our new artists and have fun. This was a very great event. I think we had like 10,000 people in here. I’ve been here for many years and I’m sponsoring this event. I did the parade this morning at 12 noon, when we came in here. We represent New Jersey. We represent Orange, East Orange and Newark,” said Lady Ira on Saturday, Aug. 5. “If you know that East Orange has one of the largest concentrations of Guyanese, 2.9 percent of Guyanese people live in East Orange and Orange. It’s the largest percent of Guyanese in the United States. We’re one people, one nation, representing Guyana.”
For more information about the Orange Caribbean Heritage Festival and Parade, call Nikki Amos at 973-266-4111, ext. 5003, or Campanella Godfrey at 973-266-4053.