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Semi-finalists hit hard at Calypso Fiesta
Politicians, both government and opposition, and criminals received heavy licks from many calypsonians who competed in Calypso Fiesta yesterday.
While the contestants performed social, humorous and political commentaries as well as nation-building songs, the issue of crime was at the forefront.
Thousands of patrons gathered at Skinner Park, San Fernando, to cheer on the 40 semi-finalists who vied for the 15 spots in Sunday’s Calypso Monarch final at Dimanche Gras.
Newcomer Aaron St Louis, known as Voice, had the crowd singing along to his hit Year for Love (Upendo Riddim). Some backup singers held placards one of which read: God is More Powerful than the Gun, Put it down and pick Him up.
Louis, a two-time International Soca Monarch, encouraged youths to away from crime and questioned why people are fighting and killing each other. To the criminals, he said ‘fire go bun dem’, an expression denouncing criminals.
Ronaldo London in his song Tomorrow called for the criminals to put down the guns. Before people think about tomorrow, he urged that they shape today so their tomorrow will be okay.
Devon Seale, the first performer and a former calypso monarch, in his song Not Red or Yellow pleaded with citizens to put their political biases aside. Accompanied by actors who displayed suitcases of $100 bills, Seale said that politicians’ favourite colour is blue.
Veteran Weston Rawlins, better known as Cro Cro and the Mighty Midget, had the crowd swaying to his hard-hitting lyrics to politicians in his song Belated. Known for composing many pro-PNM songs, in Belated he accused Prime Minister and other Cabinet members of not taking his calls. With a Christmas tree on stage, Cro Cro, a four-time calypso monarch, said he was calling them simply because he wanted to wish them a belated Merry Christmas.
Performing in position 20, Carlos James, also called Skatie, said that Government is “cutting back on everything except the high prices”. Therefore, the calypsonian in his song All Cutback said he decided to cut down on the verses in his calypsoes. Like Cro Cro, he too threw picong at the Government. The only thing raising up “is we pressure”.
In response, patrons raised their placards some of which read, Kaiso Kaiso Kaiso, Big Yard Song and Dat is Kaiso.
Performing Plenty Talk, Giselle Fraser Washington said rather than confronting issues plaguing the country, politicians keep talking.
Unlike previous years, patrons (in the first-half of the competition) neither waved toilet paper nor displayed anti-government placards to show their dissatisfaction.
Dressed in white, Terri Lyons raised her concerns about crime in Un Natural Causes. “It seems that no one is dying of natural causes anymore as men rather knock on the Devil’s door,” she sang. Going on her knees, the singer said the same hands once used to offer prayers are taking away lives.
Also singing about crime were Stephen Marcelle and Wendy Garrick with What About Us and Savage Tomorrow respectively. Carlton Louison in Glorified Gangster sang about the behaviour of criminals.
The rainy weather did not stop patrons from cheering on. There were many groups from places throughout the country. Some posses and crews included: Permission to Wine on Meh Granted, The Ste Margaret’s Posse, the Sobers Posse, Los Tocadores Posses and the Female Body Inspector Crew.
In a melodious voice, Helon Francis in his song Change explained that “change starts with you”.
Candice Robinson in The Struggle is Real dedicated the song all abused children. Dressed like a schoolgirl, with a school bag, uniform and even clips in her hairstyle, Robinson called on citizens to join forces to save the children of the nation.
Dexter Parsons, the Stinger, poked fun at the pronunciation of English words by Chinese speakers in his song Chinese Tuition.
Dressed in white, former monarch Karene Asche performed Song of Inspiration while Myron Bruce, better known as Myron B, sang The Great Nation. Both songs addressed social issues facing the country.
Kerine Williams-Figaro, also called Tiny, sang Reparation in which she called for compensation for the torture Africans endured during slavery.
Maria La Caille, also called Maria Bhola, dressed as a policeman had a humourous take on the prison escape of accused fraudster Vicky Boodram.
Curlissa Charles Mapp sang D Circus while Ezekiel Yorke, A Cash Less Society. Stacey Sobers sang Calypso Capital referring to Calypso Fiesta.
The finalists will challenge Dr Hollis Liverpool, the Mighty Chalkdust, the reigning Calypso Monarch.
Publicado por Newsday
Voice faces five monarchs in final
A newcomer, four former calypso monarchs and five women will be among 15 artistes who will attempt to dethrone reigning Calypso Monarch and nine-time title holder Hollis “Chalkdust”
Liverpool at the Dimanche Gras show at the Queen’s Park Savannah on Sunday.
Making his debut in the calypso arena, Aaron St Louis, the reigning Soca Monarch, won the judges’ nod with his popular hit Year for Love.
Former calypso monarchs Kurt Allen, Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osouna, Karene Asche and Sandra “Singing Sandra” Des Vignes-Millington, are also among the artistes who qualified for the finals following Saturday’s Calypso Fiesta at Skinner Park, San Fernando.
The other finalists are Alana “Lady Watchman” Sinnette-Khan, Carlos “Skatie” James, Dexter “The Stinger” Parsons, Helon Francis, Joanne “Tigress” Rowley, Michael “Protector” Legerton, Myron “Myron B” Bruce, Rondell Donawa, Selvon “Mistah Shak” and Stacey Sobers.
Another former monarch Roderick “Chuck Gordon” Gordon, was named as a reserve, which means he would be allowed to take the position of any finalist who fails to perform on Sunday.
With music provided by Errol Ince and the Music Makers Orchestra, some 40 semi-finalists took the Skinner Park stage during the Calypso Fiesta on Saturday.
With each trying to get the edge over the other, artistes walked with their dancers, props and back-up singers to enhance their performances. Some of them even entertained the crowd with opening skits to make their presentations more dramatic. A few of the contestants used their songs to express their concerns with the problems plaguing society, including crime, recession, child abuse, corruption and other issues. Other artistes, like Maria Bhola, who sang about Vicky Boodram’s escape from prison, delivered humorous presentations which left the crowd in stitches. Although he did not qualify for the finals, four time former calypso monarch Weston “Cro Cro” Rawlins was definitely one of the crowd’s favourites with his song Belated, which criticised Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his ministers for turning their backs on him.
The contestants, however, were awarded points by the eight adjudicators based on melody (30 points), lyrics (30 points), rendition (20 points), presentation (10 points) and originality (10 points).
Patrons were also entertained by guest performers, including artistes Naila Blackman, Patrice Roberts, Timothy “Baron” Watkins, Robert “Lord Nelson” Nelson and Johnny King.
• Aaron St Louis – Year for Love
• Kurt Allen – Circle Square Science
• Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osouna – Finally
• Karene Asche – Song of Inspiration
• Sandra “Singing Sandra” Des Vignes-Millington – Power in Song
• Alana “Lady Watchman” Sinnette-Khan – Dead Beat
• Carlos “Skatie” James – Ah Cut Back
• Dexter “The Stinger” Parsons – Chinese Tuition
• Helon Francis – Change
• Joanne “Tigress” Rowley – Rowley to Rowley
• Michael “Protector” Legerton – We Could do Better than That
• Myron “Myron B” Bruce – The Great Nation
• Rondell Donawa – De Problem
• Selvon “Mistah Shak – Rebellion
• Stacey Sobers – Calypso Capital
Publicado por Guardian
Ambi, an International Soca Monarch Finalist
Saint Lucia’s Ambroise Joseph, also known as Ambi is amongst twevle artists moving on to the finals of the Trinidad held, International Soca Monarch. The young, Saint Lucian talent was one of thirty-five semi-finalists on January 25, who vied for a coveted spot at February 9’s event where TT$300,000 will be up for grabs. Congratulatory messages were sent out to the artist from all corners of social media after it was revealed that his energized performance of his local and international soca hit, Suck it Already had earned him a shot at the grand prize and title of 2018’s International Soca Monarch.
Minister for Local Government and Culture, Senator, the Hon. Fortuna Belrose also, on behalf of the ministry, congratulated Ambi on his achievement on Monday January 29 at a pre-cabinet press briefing. She said, “One of our young soca [artists], Ambi, has now qualified for the finals so, we really want to congratulate him,” she then added, “… the dennery segment, I think we’ve been making waves with that music across the region and across the globe,” giving a much deserved shout out to the Dennery born musical genre sweeping the Caribbean diaspora worldwide.
As a result of the success of the music genre and artists like Ambi, the Saint Lucia government is now planning to establish community studios throughout the island. Minister Belrose explained, “We are actually working on some community studios, two of which will be established before, hopefully, the end of this financial year.” Immediate plans include opening said studios in the east and north of the island as well as in the south and west at later dates. Belrose also added, “in addition to ofcourse the central area, because the prime minister has spoken before about the development of the studios at Radio Saint Lucia to ensure that we expand our music and ofcouse the arts for young people who are interested in other aspects of music development.”
While we await the staging of the upcoming International Soca Monarch finals where Ambi is expected to light up the stage, congratulations are also in order to four other Saint Lucian artists who had successfully made it to the semi finals of the competition. Soca fans here and abroad continue to look forward to the work and continued progress of Mighty, Surbance, Motto and Hollywood HP as they maintain their presence in the dynamic spheres of music and carnival.
Publicado por The Star
Sobers is Calypso Queen
It has been 16 years in the making. It is little wonder then why Stacey Sobers became emotional when she spoke about the win. Sobers won the National Women’s Action Committee’s (NWAC) National Calypso Queen Competition last Monday.
The competition was held at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s Road, Port of Spain.
The soon to be 41-year-old told Newsday, “Anything is possible once you pursue your dreams (pause…emotional), passionately. The goal and the reward is the happiest point of life.”
Allison “Warrior Empress” Bernard came second with Ease She Up and Terri Lyons, who placed fourth last year, came third with Unnatural Causes. Sobers’ winning piece, Queens and Kings spoke about people addressing each other as kings and queens whose actions did not fit the title. She sang , “True royalty don’t do certain things.” Her calypso named people such as Calypso Rose and Martin Luther King Jr as ‘true’ kings and queens.
When contacted, Sobers said, “I feel elated and totally humbled by the win.” Gervon Abraham, Sobers’ husband and manager, came up with the idea for the song.
While Sobers was confident about her performance, she was not certain about the crown. “I was confident about the performance because I know I was going out there to do what I have been working towards, which is winning the competition. I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be.”
Sobers entered the competition five times before winning. “I placed fourth in 2015 and was a finalist for the last four that I did,” she said.
“I started singing reggae, actually. I entered Party Time in 1994 with a group called Black by Nature, they used to call me the Local Patra then because I had this quick tongue, so to speak.”
Sobers sings all other genres and in the latter part of her career did soca. Some might know her best for her hit Let Me Know. She is currently at the College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago (COSTATT) pursuing an associate’s degree in music and the arts.
Ultimately, she wants to spread messages of love, togetherness and unity and hopes to be like “the Singing Sandra’s and Ella Andalls, leaving a mark on the industry.” Sobers is a semi-finalist for the National Calypso Monarch semi-final on Saturday at Skinner Park, San Fernando.
Last Monday’s show began exactly at 7.30 pm. Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly, Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts brought greetings as well as NWAC’s executive member, Melissa Dennis.
Dennis said this year was hard for the organisation as financial cutbacks resulted in reduced prizes. She called for further assistance from either the public or private sectors. She appealed to the nation not to let the calypso queen competition not die a second death as had happened in 1982.
Different topics were addressed by the queens, with some addressing popular social movements (Genisa St Hillaire’s Life in Leggings), and social ills like “dead beat” parents (Alana “Lady Watchman” Sinnette-Khan’s Dead Beat) and even issues surrounding the death penalty and crime (Morisha Ransome’s Messrs Pratt and Morgan.) The show ended at about 11.30 pm.
Publicado por Newsday
Calypsoes to take you back in time
Por Debbie Jacob
EVERY CARNIVAL I hear the same lament: calypso tents are on the decline. I have no proof one way or the other, but I have the feeling that back-in-times shows seem to be more popular than ever. They satisfy an insatiable need for nostalgia.
There are many people, it seems, who really want groovier calypsoes. There are calypso fans who want the music to slow down. They don’t want frantic tempos and endless commands to jump up. Although, if my memory serves me right, those calypsoes of 30 years ago did command us all to wine.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended Spektakula’s Back-in-Times Show — because I am in that geriatric crowd now. NAPA seemed to be bulging at the seams. The line to get in snaked around the building. I guess we were the same crowd that lined up to see Explainer, Nelson, David Rudder, Baron and Chalkdust over three decades ago.
Much to my surprise, the calypsoes from that night sounded as fresh and new as they did long ago. The crowd put me to shame. Patrons knew every calypso — back to the Sparrow and Kitch selections that Relator played on his guitar as he warmed up the crowd.
Long ago, calypsonians like Relator and Black Sage served as the opening act. Sitting on stage and singing with nothing but their guitars to accompany them, they served as pied pipers who coaxed people to take their seats. This crowd found itself seated before the show started. They weren’t going to waste a moment of this show.
Patrons didn’t merely sing every calypso. They belted out the lyrics, almost drowning out the calypsonians. They knew every song — and songs those days were packed with lyrics.
With only a couple of exceptions, young in this show meant performers now in their 70s. In this crowd, Rudder was practically a baby. He conjured up images of Rudolph Charles with a very slowed-down version of The Hammer. Of course, the crowd appreciated Trini to the Bone.
Nelson, now in his 80s, stole the show with Me Lover. Dressed from head to toe in baby blue, he wined more than any young singer ever could and the crowd could only “Ooh” and “Ahhh” and clap and laugh when he tossed off his hat, followed by his jacket. Dare I describe the reaction when he unzipped his jump suit?
Funny reminded everyone of the demise of real humour in calypso. Once a vibrant, essential part of calypso, humour has declined over the last 20 years.
If you were looking for comparative improvements in calypso, you might have noted that songs insulting women have declined over the years. I never appreciated songs that portrayed women as conniving, dumb or just plain sex objects. It is amazing in hindsight how many of such calypsoes once existed.
Strangely enough, there were no women performers that night. When I asked my daughter, Ijanaya, if I missed one woman performer somehow that night, she said, “No, there were none. Just a lot of misogynists.” But the good outweighed the bad. Timeless melodies prevailed. These days, too few songs leave us with haunting melodies. Who can forget the melody of Explainer’s Lorraine or Rudder’s Hammer?
The Soca Monarch competition tried nobly to recapture those more melodic days with its groovy calypso contest, but unfortunately a return to a slower, sweeter tempo just didn’t resonate with most younger singers. They felt compelled to inject groovy calypsoes with frantic tempos. They never seem to understand that the energy comes from the rhythm and the music — not the tempo.
What also struck me that night was how many old calypsoes told a story. There were stories of pride in who we are: Trini to the Bone and Lorraine. Baron’s voice, melodic as ever, reminded us of when being sexy was more discrete. Rudder reminded us of our history and Ronnie MacIntosh reminded patrons of the adrenalin rush going to a fete used to bring.
In those days even the fetes told stories. So, as calypso tents record less and less attendance and close down, maybe it would do aspiring singers some good to attend some back-in-times shows.
Maybe they need to propel themselves into the future by examining the past. They can ask questions: “What will my music sound like 40 years from now? Will it stand the test of time? Will people be singing their hearts out to my songs decades from now?
Publicado por Newsday