Young Kings lacking humour, no joke

THE EDITOR: Congratulations to Mark Eastman, The Ladies Man, the undisputed winner of the 34th Young Kings Calypso Competition held on Monday. He moved with commendable development from winning the 2018 Stars of Tomorrow Calypso Competition, one week before.

Once successful in these two competitions an artiste may not defend so he remains for all time a Star of Tomorrow and a Young King. May he use his victories well.

This year the competition provided another useful indicator of calypso entertainment. In the past I have recommended that the organisers follow the advice of the late Grandmaster, Kitchener. He used to say, “A competition is also a show.” He meant that there should be a pleasing mix of elements.

The competition ran very smoothly and the audience enjoyed themselves, notwithstanding a late start. However, in my opinion, there was a lack of variety in the themes. I know that there are preoccupations among us about the economic downturn and crime which the calypsonians assume are addressed by appealing to “nation building.”

There were three such calypsoes, Aaron Duncan’s One Nation, Sheldon Nugget’s Oh La Trinity, and Addelon Braveboy’s Trinbago Unite. There were three compositions on crime or its effects — Eric James’ Drive Them Out, Sekon Alves’ A Nation in Tears, and Dillon Thomas’ Through the Eyes of a Prison Officer. There were two tributes — Heaven Charles’ A Tribute to Austin Lyons and Derrick Seales’ Pappy. And there were two compositions about calypso — Mba’s De Glory Days and Marvin Lewis’ Not On My Watch.

I have been concerned that there are seldom any humorous calypsoes among the Young Kings finalists. There are few songs that have love as their topic, be it romantic love, spiritual or any other kind of love. Maybe calypsonians do not want to compose on such themes because they are hard to treat with or they come to the NACC with an erroneous belief that the organisers want only “serious” topics.

Yet Fireball (Rohan Richards) won last year’s competition with a love-themed calypso about calypso.

On the other hand, the competition is suffering from a lack of appreciation for its longevity and its role in providing a platform for upcoming artistes. Because I am aware of certain developments I know that very slow responses from sponsors, both State and the private sector, even before now, are placing a serious burden on the organisers.

While I do not advocate mendicancy, I feel that much more consideration should be given to financing this iconic competition. At the very least, individual Young Kings supporters could purchase a copy of the commemorative magazine, I am a Young King.

One testimonial written in the magazine should suffice. King Luta, the first Young King (1985), wrote, “The Young Kings Competition is far more valuable to the development of calypso in Trinidad and Tobago than most of us realise. The focus of the competition is not so much on the calypsonian but more so on the calypso and that is the big difference between the Young Kings and other competitions.”



"Young Kings lacking humour, no joke"

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