PRAYERS for Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith, gender violence, ganja and Venezuelan immigration were some of the topics addressed during the preliminary round judging of the national senior Calypso Monarch competition.
The event was held Monday at the VIP room, Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain. Soca artiste Dexter Stewart (Blaxx) was the first performer and sang two social commentary songs, Cry TT and Remove Yourself, which both had a light melody that sounded closer to R&B than traditional calypso.
He was followed by Dave Maikoo (Pae3ot) who performed Fundamental Concern, which called for the gun law to be passed. “I want a firearm too,” he sang.
Radio talk show host Garth St Clair, who is attached to the Klassic Ruso calypso tent, gave a lively performance of his song Rock So, in which he danced, sang to the other waiting performers and mimed playing the trumpet. The social commentary included the Venezuelan migrant situation and how it “open plenty eyes” and about Government trying its best to handle crime.
The fourth performer was Michael Williams (Intruder) who delivered a heartfelt rendition of the song Woman in Trouble, which, he said, was dedicated to all battered women, mothers, sisters, nieces and grandmothers.
“Don’t forget woman is your mother,” he sang. The fifth performer Hammond Bruce (Slick) from Kaiso Karavan sang Put the Country First and commented on a number of issues including Minister Fitzgerald Hinds having water splashed in his face in the Beetham, taxes from Finance Minister Colm Imbert and the Venezuela migrant issue.
“Yuh help Venezuela, Trinidad suffer,” he sang.
The hook in his song was the line: “What we want and require from the Prime Minister.” He received rousing applause from his fellow performers.
The first female performer was Marsha Clifton (Lady Adanna), from Kaiso Karavan, who sang The Griot and declared herself as “the griot” and the one with the message.
“Send a message on the ground, the queen of the griots come.”
Morel Peters (Luta) sang about spiritual hypocrisy with Sin is Sin and threw picong for Tobago House of Assembly minority leader Watson Duke with Oh Geed Watson.
Following Peters was Samantha Johnson who gave an energetic performance of Commissioner’s Prayer in which she said she will pray for the police commissioner and the Government ministers.
Sharlan Bailey (Dread Wizard) from Kaiso House, and son of the late Winston Bailey (The Shadow), delivered a vibrant performance of We under Fire in which he spoke of economic equality and politicians.
“In a traffic jam we move for them to pass.”
He also sang about the recent decriminalisation of small quantities of marijuana.
“They tell we light it up so them could sell the ganja, certain streets still have no water, but by next elections who you gonna vote for, it’s all conspiracy,” he sang.
The performers were judged as follows: 30 points for melody, 30 points for lyrics, 20 points for rendition, ten points for presentation, and ten points for originality.
Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO) president Lutalo Masimba (Brother Resistance) explained during a media interview that the event was designed for people who are not attached to a calypso tent to be given a chance in the competition. He said, however, that it had spilled over to include people who sing in tents but may not sing every night and did not want to take any chances of missing the judges when they visit. He also said it is at times difficult to adjudicate two songs at a tent and sometimes calypsonians would perform one song at the preliminary judging event and another at the tent.
Masimba said the Calypso Monarch title is still the most prestigious title in Carnival and the most coveted title.
On more young people taking part in calypso Masimba said that it feels good.
“Since I small I hearing ‘calypso dying’. And now I have children and grandchildren and the same calypso that dying still here. It is a beautiful time for the art form.”
He noted that TUCO has its junior calypso programme which features the national junior calypso monarch competition and the junior roving tent which features those in the semi-finals of the competition from the previous year, visiting schools and performing with a live band. He added that for July-August TUCO hosts vacation camps.
“So we always have a space where we supporting the growth of our youth.”
Semi-finalists for the Calypso Monarch competition will perform at Calypso Fiesta on February 15 at the Guaracara Park Point-a-Pierre, from 12 pm. Twelve artistes will be selected for the finals on February 20 at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, to challenge reigning monarch Ronaldo London.