AND SO they gather, our Carnival champions. We hail the achievements of all who have emerged victorious: Soca Monarch Voice; Panorama champions Renegades; Calypso Monarch Helon Francis; King of Carnival Earl Thompson and Queen of Carnival Roxanne Omalo. While each victory is significant in its own way, all are gems studding the glorious crown that is our Carnival.
For Voice, however, victory was particularly momentous. His hat-trick is a notable feat for an artist so young, demonstrating longevity and consistency in an art form that is all about the fast lane. A victory at Dimanche Gras would have made his “Year for Love” even more historic, especially after Renegades won Panorama playing the song. However, he was pipped into second place by Helon Francis.
The new calypso monarch was crowned in a show in which veterans disappointed and relative new-comers shone. In many ways, Francis’ winning tune, ‘Change’ had the same hallmarks of his closest competitors, containing a strong message about the need for social reform.
Renegades victory returns it to winner’s row after a decades-long drought. But the Charlotte Street band’s achievement is a victory not only for its members but also for the communities of east Port-of-Spain and environs. We also salute the historic fifth consecutive win by Pan Elders among the medium bands
Earl Thompson’s King of Carnival title returns designer Peter Minshall to winner’s row. Minshall’s mas is art in its highest distillation. In a way, the judges’ scores and titles are irrelevant. His last king, ‘The Dying Swan’, was perhaps the height of what can be achieved in the realm of the moko jumbie and should have won in 2016. This year, the judges finally got things right: opting to reward the craftsmanship, concept, and movement of ‘Death And The Maiden, The Fancy King Sailor Plays Pegasus’, a stunning amalgam of collage, sculpture and ideography. It is hoped this victory will steer the Kings and Queens away from the tired strategies of the use of large scale, flashy pyrotechnics and awkward gimmickry.
Omalo is also to be congratulated for rising to the top with ‘Lilith, Mistress of the Eternally Damned’, a large red and black costume named after the mythological figure sometimes associated with female sensuality.
Today, all eyes will turn to the Queen’s Park Savannah to see who will win Band of the Year as well as Road March. As with Dimanche Gras, there are strong favourite’s but the crown is anyone’s to take.
All should enjoy their moment in winner’s row.