JOY AND AGONY IN 2011
By Joan Rampersad Thursday, December 29 2011
click on pic to zoom in
The country lost cultural icons Allyson Hennessy (top) and Pat Bishop (below) in 2011....
Grabbing the biggest headlines in culture and entertainment in 2011 was the success of Trinidad and Tobago’s Anya Ayoung Chee on the American television series, Project Runway. She came away a big winner, and with that win came a fair amount of international recognition and “Anyamania” in TT.
The year also saw the annual Carnival parade of the bands back in the Queen’s Park Savannah in front of the newly erected Grand Stand and temporary North Stand, built to the tune of $42 million. As promised, the International Soca Monarch, National Calypso Monarch, Chutney Soca Monarch and the National Panorama champions each received $2 million first prizes. The prospects of the largest purse in Carnival history prompted many entertainers who had opted out of competition in past year to re-enter the arena, among them, Machel Montano, Destra Garcia and Drupatie Ramgoonai who returned to the Chutney Soca Monarch competition after a 12-year absence. But mas people were vexed that they were not included, especially masman Brian Mac Farlane.
Retired General Colin Powell danced to Sparrow’s music but unfortunately TT was host country to two failed international music awards shows. 2011 was also a year when a number of high profile personalities in the industry passed away. Those included Allyson Hennessy, Wayne Berkeley, Pat Bishop, Norman Samaroo, Keith Smith, Mighty Striker, Conqueror, Alwin “Chow Lee” Chow Lin On, Dr Geraldine O’Connor, Rolph Warner and Ralph MacDonald.But the year began with the usual….
Despite a fair amount of wine, jam, “chook,” and generous offerings of alcoholically inclined songs, there was generally a better quality soca this year.
Upon the release of the song “Trini” by Benjai, a number of persons likened it to Singing Diana’s 1979 song “You Got to Giveaway”, produced by Ed Watson. Benjai continued to have COTT trouble as the wrangle over rights and royalties continued throughout the season and to date the issue is yet to be fully settled.
With $2 million at stake in a soca competition that was dedicated to Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, there were a number of unpleasant exchanges on the night of the competition among some of the biggest names in the business, and a number of patrons left the National Stadium with the firm belief that the Soca Monarch title was given to Machel Montano.
Pan Trinbago proceeded with the launch of Panorama after rejecting Cabinet’s decision to reduce players’ remittance from $1,000 to $800. The organisation subsequently made up the shortfall and announced that the PM was also Panorama’s patron.
Producer of the Chutney Soca Monarch competition, Southex Event Management threatened to halt the competition due to lack of funding from the Culture Ministry. So, too, did William Munro of Caribbean Prestige Foundation, producers of the Soca Monarch competition. As usual, the competitions went on as planned.
Justice Minister Herbert Volney objected to the annual WASA Fete and threatened the granting of the dancehall and bar licences. Minister Emmanuel George intervened and the fete licence was approved and Volney assured that there will be “Summit security” for the fete.
Port-of-Spain Mayor Louis Lee Sing allowed “wee wee trucks” on the road for Carnival despite protestations after Carnival 2010, but Mas people had to apply for use of public parks. The PoS City Corp decided to enforce a ten-year rule.
Deejay music and rhythm sections at Panorama semis were a source of discontent for pan aficionados. Renegades, who was eliminated, blamed their less than stellar performance on what they claimed were disturbances caused by the noises emanating from the North Stand. The band filed an injunction but the official results were upheld in court.
Tobago House of Assembly (THA) chairman Orville London and Culture Minister Winston “Gypsy” Peters had a battle of words regarding Carnival in Tobago.
Dominique Elias aka Buhwamoder was charged for marijuana possession. So, too, was Screws (Richard Barrington), who ironically sang about police in the party, looking to arrest him. That they did.
Benjai was also in court for assaulting a policeman, his case has been postponed to March 2012.
Ravi B allegedly incited a crowd to “stone” the stage after his loss at the Chutney Soca Monarch competition. He, too, is before the court, and Machel Montano’s court case lingered.
- The THA allocated $7 million for Tobago Carnival.
- Rule 5 of the Panorama competition – “and the lyrics of the chosen piece not contain material which is considered to be libellous or obscene” – was a bone of contention. It was the belief of panmen that the rule was targeting the Len “Boogsie” Sharpe’s composition “Do Something for Pan”. Pan arrangers Edwin Pouchet and Ray Holman stated, “Pan don’t play lyrics” Pan Trinbago eventually pulled the clause, and issued another statement that there will be no charge for the Drag.
- Witco Desperadoes Steel Orchestra was back down the hill for yet another year.
- Mas man Ivan Kalicharan was admitted to hospital after suffering a spell of dizziness.
- Destra gave her first performance since the birth of her daughter for departing CEO of bptt Robert Riley.
- TT Film Nights was launched in Toco.
- Derek Walcott won the TS Elliot prize for the best new collection of poems White Egrets in the region, from among poets published in the United Kingdom.
- Panman Wendell Joseph was shot dead in drive by shooting. His was one of 46 murders in January.
- There were ten new mas bands registered for Carnival 2011, among the, D People’s Band named Mas For All, and Catholic band that played Genesis1: The Creation. Fr Joe Harris gave his backing to the band, while Archbishop Edward Gilbert gave his blessings. On board were Rosalind Gabriel, Wayne Berkeley, Raoul Garib. It got mixed reactions from the public.
- In answering a question, the Prime Minister stated that the $2M first prizes for Carnival competitions will be handed out every year once the economic conditions permit it.
- Popular section leader of Hart Mas Band, Tricia Seuraj, died from dengue. Her picture was carried in the band for Carnival.
- In the run up to Carnival, Minister of the Arts and Multiculturalism, Winston Peters warned that there will be more import taxes on costumes, and urged bandleaders to go local.
- Another panman Henry Cyrus, founding member of Uni Stars was gunned down in Laventille while Popular DJ Chester “Chopper” Gordon of Players Int’l was killed in a shootout in Diego Martin.
- The People’s Partnership government was in the calypso firing line at a number of tents.
- Pan arranger Edwin Pouchet was admitted to hospital in Scarborough before being brought back to Trinidad. He was again admitted one week before Carnival, this time to West Shore Medical and that is where he stayed until well after Carnival.
- After five decades in the business NCC declared 2011 the year of Calypso Rose. There were a number of tributes to the veteran, including a tribute concert, “She Is Carnival.”Rose, along with Sparrow, was also specially honoured at Machel’s AC Return concert.- A visit by co-chair of the Miss World Pageant Company Julia Morely, and reigning Miss World 2010, Alexandria Mills, to Tobago vowed if Tobago wanted it, they will stage the international competition there. The THA was adamant that they couldn’t fund the competition and the idea was blanked the idea altogether.
Rikki Jai was the first person to collect a $2 million prize when he won the Chutney Soca Monarch competition.
Large Bands – N&M Trinidad All Stars “It’s Showtime”
Medium Bands - Katzenjammers “Wake Up”
Small Bands - Arima Golden Symphony “In She Rainorama”.
San Juan East Side Symphony “Magician”
Primary Schools Category – St Margaret’s Boys Anglican
Secondary Schools Category – St Francois Girls’ College “How We Coming”
Non-school Category – Success Stars Pan Sounds “A Raging Storm”
J’Ouvert Morning Bomb
Conventional Bands – Trinidad All Stars “You Are My Special Angel”
Single Pan Bands – Gonzales Sheikers “Wanna Make Love To You”
South Pan Champs – TCL Skiffle Bunch
Calypso Monarch - Karene Asche “Uncle Jack” and “Careful What Yuh Ask For”
International Soca Monarch and Road March – Machel Montano “Advantage”
People’s Choice – Iwer George “Come to Me”
International Groovy Soca Monarch – Kees Dieffenthaller “Wotless”.
Extempo - Sheldon John
Political Commentary – Karene Asche “Uncle Jack”
Humorous Commentary – Wilfred “Young Creole” Barker “Shave Meh Barbaman”
Social Commentary – Devon Seales “Ah Need Meh Carnival”.
Junior Calypso Monarch – Aaron Duncan (Newtown Boys’ RC) “Kaiso Alive”
National School Soca Monarch (Primary) – Sergio Camejo (Sacred Heart Boys’ RC) “Come in Front”
National School Soca Monarch (Secondary) – Marq Pierre (North Eastern College, Sangre Grande) “One Way to the Top”.
National Calypso Queen Monarch - Heather McIntosh “Keep It”
Young King – Rodney ‘Benjai’ Le Blanc “Trini”
Chutney Soca Monarch – Rikki Jai “White Oak and Water”
Veterans Calypso Monarch – Brother Valentino “Glory Days” and “Life Is A Stage”
San Fernando Calypso Monarch – Brian London “We Fed Up”.
2011 George Bailey Large Band of the Year – Humanity – Circle of Life by Brian MacFarlane.
Harold Saldenah Award Medium Band – Survivors by Ronnie and Caro McIntosh
Lil Hart Award Small Band of the Year – Beauty Beneath The Sea by Belmont Original Stylish Sailors (De Boss)
Mini Band of the Year – The Original Jab Jab Play De Mas.
Junior Band of the Year (Large) – The Story Teller by Rosalind Gabriel and Friends.
Carnival King (Senior) – Wade Madray Pacific Tsunami from Legacy’s South Pacific
Carnival Queen (Senior) – Peola Marchan D Jeweled Chandelier from We People International’s D Big Dance – Sel Duncan at Palms Club.
Junior King of Carnival – Yanick Holdip Protector of The Reef
Junior Queen of Carnival – Jade Alleng Keeper of the Rain Forest.
Ivan Kallicharan won his fifth straight South Band of the Year title with Colours of Lights
UCIC J’ouvert – Covigne International Red Toxic Sludge in Hungary
Downtown Carnival Band of the Year (Large Bands) – Brian MacFarlane Humanity – Circle of Life
DCC Carnival Queen of J’ouvert – Helen Fullard, “Why Camla Stop Drinking? Jack Warn Her!”
DCC Carnival King of J’ouvert – Lennox Joseph “His Last Brother, TT Strongest Man (Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner).”
Stickfighter of the Year (King of the Rock) – Marcano Anderson (Princes Town).
- The Maha Sabha was pleased with Government’s subventions for Phagwa 2011. India’s Orissa dancers were here for the festival.
- Soca “Fireman” Bunji got rid of his locks.
- Boogsie’s son’ Den Lin Sharpe was in court for marijuana possession. Local comedienne Rachel Price was also in court – on assault charges. She was fined $200, ordered to issue an apology and complete 180 hours of community service after being found guilty for cursing a teacher at Bishop’s Anstey High School.
- The National Dance Association of Trinidad and Tobago declared April the month of dance; bartenders started their quest to get a shot at the World Bartender of the Year Finals in India and Imax theatre was launched.
- Retired US General Colin Powell on a visit to this country, danced while Sparrow sang “Congo Man” then gave him 50 CDs containing his entire collection.