D’ Masters Kaiso tent backed by live band, Caribbean INXS, band, kick-started the 2018 Calypso season in Tobago on Friday night in Pembroke.
Though the show started after 10 pm, Shantell Melville provided an amusing opening for the small, patient crowd as she encouraged listeners to live in harmony and to promote a crime free Trinidad and Tobago.
Leslie-ann Ellis, 14-time finalist at the National Calypso Monarch competition, shared her new calypso, “My Advice,” a song on domestic violence against women.
“A woman is a queen and should be treated as one, not a blow-up toy for fun/If you are a king treat her like a queen,” exhorted Ellis. She pleaded with women not to return to a scenario of domestic abuse. She sent a message to abusers advising them to “poison them and take their own lives.”
Reigning Heritage Monarch winner, Signal Hill’s Balanie Baynes, (Lady Baynes) sang her 2017 winning calypso “Loose
One of the tent’s youngest calypsonians, Shamika Denoon, sporting a black long dress with orange frill, sang her rendition of “I Am Queen,” encouraging women to walk in dignity: “Woman you wear a crown, stand up strong and make us proud.”
Garth Washington, (Squeez) and Garve Sandy encouraged togetherness with their renditions of “Morning Neighbour” and “True Patriot,” respectively.
Wendell Fredrick (Excite) focused on the urgent need to improve the quality of leadership in Trinidad and Tobago. His
rendition, “Lacking Foresight,” highlighting important unresolved issues in TT such as crime, health, education and the judicial system.
Giselle Washington (GG) did not hold back with her electrifying calypso, “Talk Again,” delivering a stunning performance and lashing lyrics to make her the clear favourite of the night. She highlighted issues such as the air and sea bridges, the Tobago Sandals project, the Joint Select Committee sittings, among other issues, noting the counter-productive actions by those in authorities to arriving at solutions.
“We going round and round, the Opposition don’t care, they only talk and talk and not doing anything…. Sea bridge-talk, air bridge- more talk…They told us hold the strain till we can talk again,” she sang.
Despite an unexpected shower of rain, the show went on with the last calypsonian, Jude Hurdle, shocking the small audience, with “Something Smelling,” a song about personal hygiene and women.
Henson Wright (Calypso Prince), leader of D’ Masters Kaiso tent told Newsday Tobago after the show that he has high expectations for this year’s calypso competitions.
“My expectation is that we can knock out the national finalists because we have very good calypsoes. We have eight calypsoes that I think could make it to the national semi-finals,” he said, naming himself, Leslie-ann Ellis, Gilbert O’Connor, Garve Sandy and Balanie Baynes as strong contenders.
“We could dominate the Tobago calypso scene this year and move into the national show,” he said.
D’ Masters Kaiso is partially funded by the Tobago House of Assembly and Wright said the tent is gradually weaning itself away from government sponsorship to become fully independent by next year Carnival.
“We have corporate sponsors coming in and couple bands that have pledged support. At the end of the day, we have been doing fund-raisers to subsidise because we cannot totally depend on government to do calypso,” he said.
“In 1996, when Baseo Panday was prime minister and decided that he will give interest groups funding, he hoped that the groups will become self-sufficient after five years. I have not seen this happening, but as an independent tent, we have been trying to do that. Hopefully by the end of this season we won’t have to depend on anybody, anymore,” he added.
Wright said the plan this year is to collaborate with small businesses to host kaiso tents around Tobago. D’ Masters Kaiso tent will appear next at Mason Hall Short’s Bar, at a date still to be announced –it will on judging night for the calypsonians.