FORMER National Calypso Queen Maria Bhola is celebrating a milestone in calypso this year. The 2020 season heralds in her 30th anniversary.
Bhola, who started singing calypso as a junior in 1990, is attached to the Divas Calypso Cabaret International tent for the past three years. Known for her very clever and witty compositions, this year Bhola has chosen to tackle two social issues arising out of media stories.
Her first release, No Entry, addresses the issue of legendary local nuts vendor Keith “Jumbo” Martin who, along with other nuts vendors, was denied entry to the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain, by official sponsor Sunshine Snacks at the Caribbean Premier League (CPL T20) cricket games last year.
The ban was subsequently lifted after Jumbo made an appeal on social media which went viral and a public outcry ensued.
CEO of Sunshine Snacks Kristine Thompson comes in for some flak as in the song Bhola, who sings as Jumbo, is at the Oval gate pleading for Kristine to let him in. Bhola’s seamless use of double entendre throughout the song is both clever and tastefully risqué.
Her second song, Carry On, addresses the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace. Bhola, who is not one to shy away from controversial topics or personalities, has chosen to write and sing about a former government minister who, it is alleged, wrongfully terminated his personal assistant. The personal assistant then brought a suit against the ministry and also put forward a sexual harassment complaint against the minister. She was subsequently awarded a financial settlement and was made to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
From her entry in junior calypso in 1990 to today, Bhola’s accomplishments include placing second in the Junior Calypso Monarch competition in 1999, qualifying for the National Calypso Monarch semi-finals at Skinner Park, San Fernando, on a number of occasions, doing so consecutively for the past three years. She qualified for the finals last year, placing fourth.
In 2007, Bhola also placed fourth in the finals of the competition and it was also 2007 she reached the pinnacle of her career when she copped the National Calypso Queen competition. She also has several regional monarchs title, including, Sangre Grande, Arouca and Arima on several occasions.
Bhola boasts that she writes and composes her own lyrics, something that eludes most young calypsonians today. when she isn’t singing, she manages her own decor, events and spa business. She anticipates this season to be one where she will enjoy her live performances. “My focus is on getting the message out and entertaining my listeners,” she said. Noted for totally submerging herself into her performances and the character roles she depicts, this season is poised to be quite an interesting one for Bhola.
The season begins for her on February 4, when the Divas tent opens its doors at the Kaiso Blues Cafe on Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.