Calypso is alive and well
What a Calypso season! The competitions seem to be getting better every year- the compositions, the performers, the stage props and the growing interest of a younger audience as well as new and interesting voices such as Shadow Flow, Black Diamond, Rachael, Deros and the Junior Monarchs. Even newly-crowned Bouyon Prince Acer Bantan has joined Skinny in penning Calypsos. This is all good because it ensures the longevity of the art.
Well, in the Finals, the genius Dice, to my mind, easily retained his 6th crown though he received some competition from Karresah. It is now apparent that these two are Dominica's best, as they have proven over the past few years.
I thought that second timer Deros (Champ of the Camp) would have placed in the top four probably instead of Webb whose second composition Kung Fu Politics lacked some cohesion, to my mind, but the judges saw it differently and were probably blown away by the quality of his rendition and his Kung Fu antics. A word to the wise- neither Pink Panther, the reigning TNT king, nor the great Chalk-dust, nor Shadow nor Dominica's NC can be considered to be great singers, yet they have won several national crowns. The same can be said of Kassav's Jean Claude, but he sings in key and gets the job done.
Randy Aaron, Bobb, Pat and the Mas Camp crew did a fantastic job by converting the PSU grounds into a wonderful facility not just to house the Camp but for future use as a venue for other social activities. The youthful band that accompanied the calypsonians there is also worthy of mention for their execution. Also, the Bull and Pawol combination as Emcees are a credit to the art form; they did a fabulous job throughout the season.
Apart from the great season of Calypso, I must draw to my readers' attention that unfortunately Daddy Miller was totally eliminated and Chris B, with one of the most pertinent messages delivered, I dare say, flawlessly have to return to the eliminations next season. They both proved they could be valuable assets in a rather lack-luster second round of the Finals as they performed as guest artistes. Ca eat Concrete, one of the most popular and loved calypsos, I was told was absent from the semis because of Lugas' rendition deficiencies on the night of the Quarters. This is a problem that the artist has to really work out.
Hunter, Dominica's most renowned Calypso King exercised some indiscretion when he wrote some of his lyrics on his hands and was captured by MARPIN's cameraman; however, I found that he redeemed himself admirably by apologetically withdrawing from the Finals. But even while I was still applauding this gentlemanly gesture, I was appalled that the said calypsonian was allowed to sing as a guest artiste at the Finals; and to add insult to injury, used the opportunity to seemingly glorify his wrong-doings by his extempore composition "Reading Palm". This was not funny! Next year probably, but not one week after the act; this brought into question the remorsefulness he showed and the tears his fans shed on behalf of the artiste.
I also take issue with Calypso fans who wanted Soul Puss in the Finals arguing that calypso would be short-changing the fans by having one man short in the Finals. (It is ironic that he actually short- changed fans by being in the Finals); yet these persons did not seem to care that at the Champ of the Camp fans were short changed when leading calypsonian Bobb did not participate and Sye tried copping out by announcing that he was not a participant, even while he took part. Of course all sorts of excuses will be given, but my own take on this is that the said artistes thought they did not have the material to get a favorable result and so stayed out…Period!
Still without going into details, Soul Puss would have done himself a favor by not performing in these Finals and in fact is proving that he has difficulty in handling the annual pressure. Black Diamond also succumbed to the big stage, I thought, but it's his first Finals and he is just 19...someday he is going to be king. Such talent can't be suppressed for too long.
Meanwhile, Daddy Chess evoked only subdued response from the crowd in both rounds. Not even Madness, a song co-written by Barbados' Red Plastic Bag, sent the fan loco. Another Caribbean writer from Tobago was employed by Electra for Woman's Worth; the "speech" presentation was too long and the "Dream" was too wordy. The message may be that Dominican writers and composers are more than capable of getting the job done. Nonetheless, she represented the women reasonably well, for a first timer who came in by default.
Congratulations to Nashelle for winning the Junior Monarch Crown over the reigning talent of Janae. Yes, some persons drew to my attention that they'd heard the winning song earlier, presented by another artist, but my take on this is, if it was not used in a competition, then it's valid.
Therefore, just as Ras Kelly's "Shoe squeezing me" composition was aired almost one year earlier as part of a recording and was eligible, then Ghetto Prince's "Sports, In de Same Spot" should still be viable next year; but not "Stock Farm Blues'. Speaking of Ras Kelly, his composition must be rated as one of the best for the season and he was right up there with King Dice and Karresah in round one.
No one will ever know for sure, except to speculate, why the experienced Scrunter used, in the Semis, a weak Calypso which obviously expressed unpopular sentiments. Calypsonians have known to have placed at 16 and 17 in the Quarters and have found their way comfortably in the Finals. His no-show in the Stardom King of the Tent must finally signal the end of his career or at least a pause to re-tool, as Ras Kelly did.
While some calypsos were questionable, as far as relevance is concerned, Bobb's presentation, "Find a Way" was a masterpiece; so was Karresah in Gentle Rest, Ras Kelly in Papa and of course, Deros in Babalene. This all added to the spectacle of what makes Dominica Calypso second to none. Finally, I dedicate this article to the Ghetto Prince as he gets better after his emergency operation that prevented him from taking his place in the Finals.