Yes, Friends; it's here again, that sweet sound of Calypso. It's the time when the people have a voice through the pens of writers and the microphones of calypsonians. It is undoubtedly the people's parliament, probably more so in Dominica of late since we are one of the few regional countries that has remained true to political and social commentary in Calypso and have not gone down the "jump and wave" Soca craze which has pervaded others.
Whatever you wanted to say and do you now have the platform through Calypso to critique and make fun of politicians and society in general or offer solutions to societal problems or Whether it's done satirically or seriously, the unadulterated truth as seen by the artistes is often presented on stage. Those feelings and sentiments are often unfettered and partisan. Calypsonians who moved away from this unwritten rule of challenging the status quo have found themselves having to play catchup which leads to their total demise as the public soon discerns their partisanship and then they become "soft" when an opposing party is in power; lyrics are no longer biting or do not have the impact that they once had.
Proof of this point can been clearly seen in our foremost monarch King Dice who gets a vast majority of his support from the " ghetto youths" which the ruling party said it was built on and from whom it gets most of its support notwithstanding the monarch scathing political commentaries year after year.
Such is the irony and power of Calypso, an art form which literally can " make or break governments"; however, the calypsonian cannot shy away from his unwritten expectation to make revelations as in " Mamo doe rock de boat", " Hypocrites" " Ti way yo" or " Dey Joking Carl" when it so necessitates. Failure to do this will cause one's demise as you are no longer believable, just an opportunist and an enemy, even a traitor, to the people who depend on you to voice their innermost sentiments.
Yes, Calypso is an African thing. So making fun of Massa and those who rule is one of the fundamental tenants of Calypso and therefore leaders who understand this and can join and sing-a-long (such as with "Marry de girl Charlie") without any ill-will, threats of banning a song or filing law suits fare better in the eyes of the public.
I always remembered my Dad, "De Idol" (Dominica's first three peat King relaying to me when he sang about Mr. Copeland, a magistrate in the 60s, who was at the time a fearless upholder of the law in the mold of "Follow." Copeland was the first to hand him $20.00 (a lot of money in those days) so that the same guy who imprisoned him for one night became a friend- no animosity.
But today according to King Karessah even if "everybody know" we get so intelligent, intolerant and smart that we look for a law suit in every composition. Moreover it is ironical that artistes who make money out of exposing dirty linen do not like people to sing about them and expose their shortcomings.
This season fans can expect coming out of Erika a few Calypsos about the storm. We will also see a recent Junior Monarch and former Calypso Queen making her way to the big leagues in the Eliminations carded for this week end. One is also expected to hear Chris B and Lugars having employed new composers just as Sye and Black Diamond. Sye and Checker will be in the Eliminations and for Checker it will be the first time since he entered the arena some 40 years ago. A Trini- Dominican, I am told, will also be entering the arena while the Third Eye and Bassie seem to be returning to the ring. Hunter and the 'Bull' who many anticipated would be rebranded as the 'Calf' this year, will take a break from competing.
We trust, therefore, that with all these adjustments that Calypso writers and singers have to make that the Dominica Calypso Association will likewise adjust its system to ensure that no more than about 35 calypsonians are in the final eliminations. This would obviously call for pre- eliminations as Calypso fans have calling for many years. By now everyone should know that it is impossible to adequately judge 60-70 calypsonian on one night and 12, just 12, is chosen.
Too often judges are sympathetic to tried and proven veterans who fell in previous years and between sleep, boredom and strained concentration they make many mistakes and good songs are left out. This year I trust that this is not repeated because the DCA failed to do their homework because over 70 calypsonians have indicated interest in Karessa's crown in 2016.
One thing is certain, these two veterans will be absent: Clifton Lewis aka Cocoa Tea and his brother Billy- De Humble. They were veterans who were consistent at Eliminations for many years and who obviously loved the art form even if the same love was not reciprocated in terms of their elevation to the other rounds. In fact, apart from DBS the two have been the most consistent entertainers for quite a few years and they will be missed. I would suggest that the DCA names the Eliminations in their memory. May the souls of these Kaiso soldiers rest in eternal peace.