No Category Called full-fledged Calypsonian
In responding to Calypso Analyst's letter to the editor in the March 25th issue of this paper, I would like to thank him/her for responding to a article which sought to rate Dominica's best calypsonians and Calypsos ever. It is unfortunate that I need to respond this way having requested, not only feedback, but also dialogue on my commentary.
Nonetheless, I wish to state that Calypso Analyst presented what he deemed to be a full-fledged calypsonian; suffice it to say that the scholars have no category called full fledge. You are either a calypsonian or not, hence the calypso show judge does not give preference to those who composed or wrote their material. This, in fact, is called specialization and it takes as much effort to internalize another man's lyrics and convincingly present it, making it yours.
It just happens that when calypso competitions began in the late 50's it was frowned upon and there was not much scholarly involvement so fore-runner such as the Saints, Idols, Ashton James', had no choice but to pen their own material. It is interesting to note that Dice (who wrote his material at Junior monarch level and in his first year of senior competition) and calypsonians such as the Bobb (who also writes calypsos for others) are better writers than those of the 60s and 70s (with the exception of NC) whom you rate as calypsonians. However, you should take your advice and be guided by the time period , because these "Calypsonians", as the writer refers to them, could not pass quarter finals today as their lyrical content would be found sadly lacking.
The fact that you acknowledge that someone has greater ability to craft lyrics and or compose than another should not put them or trivialize or categorize their genius to mere Calypso singer status. So how would you categorize Hunter or Daddy Chess who write their own material but from time to time employ the services of others? Probably then UB 40 would not be rated as one of the best reggae groups ever, as they made their name on cover versions; and unfortunately Shadow, Chalkdust, Sugar Aloes and many others, using the Analyst's criterion would be rated higher as a calypsonian, than the great Mighty Sparrow who depended a lot on lyricists and composers. Now this would be amusing!
We have not even spoken yet of arrangers who can make or break a song. Has the "Calypso Analyst" ever considered how lesser a calypso "Humble Servant" could have been if it was not for the infectious bass-lines by Franklyn Harris? Surely you would not like to add a third category- Calypso Arranger. Or have you considered whether Karessah would have been crowned without his stunning presentation and the presence of Minister Douglas in "Ian Dog Lass"? So here comes our next category best calypso presenter of props. I guess not!
That is why, Sir/Madame, we should not try to categorize the calypsonian and break him up into pieces, treat him as the embodiment of all that we have mentioned rolled into one on that night of competition. It's not a queen show where we have different rounds. I reiterate then, Dice was, and is the best ever Calypsonian (as there is no calypso or reggae or pop singer category in the Grammy's) and many think Breaker should follow. Finally, my article never rated Spider over Karessah and Hurricane, therefore, we agree on this point.