Wilgo Baarn was born on the 15th of January in 1946 at Jossiekreek in the district of Saramacca. Being an Afro Surinamese boy, he grew up in a neighborhood of Javanese and Hindustani people.
He is a great artist who entered the stage at a very young age, as participant of a family group that used to give shows at birthday parties. The name of this group was ‘De Bidstondgroep’ (‘The prayer group’). When he was eleven years old, he moved with his family to the capital of Paramaribo where he used to live in the Rust en Vredestraat, near the Gemenelandsweg, one of the main roads near the city center. At that time, his sister Norine Baarn, and his late brother Elest, were already member of NAKS and the organization had its building at Gemenelandsweg. He started to play sports, especially korfball. At the time he was the youngest NAKS member at the age of fourteen. He also started to play soccer at NAKS. He played in the same team with the well-known soccer player Frits Purperhart. Finally, he quit because the organization did not organize a lot of youth activities. He joined the youth group ‘Oranje Jeugd’ (‘Orange Youth’, named after the Dutch Royal Family, which was an alternative for another group called ‘De Vrolijke Jeugd’ (Cheerful Youth)’, says Mr. Baarn. With this group he learned to play his first musical instrument. ‘Sometimes the neighbors would not sleep because of me playing the trumpet or the tuba.’
His music career started at ‘Peetje Monkou’ at Kalkbranderijstraat in the neighborhood Kofroru in Paramaribo, where, finally, they had to forbid him to play music because he neglected his homework after school. Then, he got interested in playing kawina, a traditional acoustic music style of the Afro Surinamese, at NAKS. The late Johan Zebeda, one of the great kawina singers at that time became his ‘kawina guru’. Also his talent as an actor had been discovered at that time by Mr. Drenthe, who nicknamed him ‘komediman’, and gave him supporting roles in his theater performances. Finally he started playing the leading parts and got more responsibilities, so he developed an interest for direction as well. By on-the-job experience he learned a lot from directors like the late Eugene Drenthe, Hortwyn Cyrus, Henk Zoutendijk, Irwin Ormskerk and Henk Tjon. He also learned a lot during a nine months teaching practice in the 1990’s at ‘De Nieuw Amsterdam’ in the Netherlands, a multi-cultural theatre group founded and directed by Rufus Collins.
Mr. Baarn participated in several NAKS theatre productions traveling abroad. He has also served as artistic director of the group from the 1990’s until 2014. He contributed to the foundation of the theatre school, was chief committee member, and led numerous educational courses. He is also one of the co-founders of the ‘NAKS Volkshogeschool’, the institute for Afro-Surinamese cultural education at Lelydorp, a village in the district of Wanica. People know him as the conductor of the Ala Kondre Dron Ensemble, a modern percussion group in which all ethnic groups and rhythms of Suriname are represented. The founder of this group was Henk Tjon.