TEARS of joy flowed as two kings and a queen were crowned at the San Fernando Pre Dimanche Gras – Night of Monarchs show, dedicated to the late Cecil “Maestro” Humes, at Skinner Park, San Fernando on Friday night.
Among them, siblings Joel Roney John, and Allison Emma John, both representing Ayana Kalicharan’s band. They were crowned King and Queen of Carnival.
Allison’s costume was titled Beauty in the Bacchanal Madame Koskell – A tribute to Wendy Kalicharan. Her brother portrayed We Dey... in the Mas.
In the calypso category, Darwren Greenidge, singing under the sobriquet Pharoah, was crowned South Calypso Monarch to claim the crown and a cash prize of $20,000. He dethroned reigning Victoria Cooper-Rahim, also known as Queen Victoria, who placed seventh.
The third place in the 2024 Young Kings and second place in the Protective Arms Monarch competition sang a comical and up-tempo political commentary called, Ah Doh Want to Do it, about PDP leader Watson Duke and the sexual scandal with former party official Kezel Jackson.
Singing in second place before a sparse but appreciative Skinner Park audience, Greendige secured his place in winner’s row and got the judges nod with a total of 430 points, ahead of the other 11 competitors.
He scored five points more than popular second-place winner Wayne “Impulse” Modeste who ended the competition with a demonstration of his masterful skills at double entendre.
With a very animated and musical offering of Doh Ban Mih Song, Modeste cleverly incorporated the number four to tell of his trials and tribulations in purchasing four king fish, his abdominal issue from eating four cupcakes, his desire to win four cars in the major competitions and the police saga of looking for “king stupid,” a wanted man.
Although it was a competition, the master of ceremonies, responding to the sustained applause from the audience, called Impulse back on stage to do a “special verse.”
First-time entrant, Naparima Girl’s High School music teacher Reanna Edwards-Paul faced tremendous odds as her microphone went silent during her performance of Calypso Dead, but she continued her performance after defective equipment was replaced.
That error, however, caused her to finish in tenth place.
Her original composition was critical of the exponents of the art form for remaining silent on the Paria diving tragedy in which four divers lost their lives.
Support came from the divers’ families who held the "We can’t breathe" banner of the four men, along with the lone survivor on the stage. At the end of her performance, Edwards-Paul invited Salisha Kurban, the widow of Fyzal Kurban to join her on stage.
An emotional Greendige wiped tears from his eyes as his victory was announced, but he assured it was tears of joy.
“I think it was well deserved. I worked hard and I thank the Almighty and my wife, Natalie Gibbs-Greenidge, who is also my manager.”
A member of the prison service who leads its steel orchestra, Greenidge also serves as a member of the central executive of Pan Trinbago.
Responding to his omission from the Calypso Fiesta, he said the love of people who love and appreciate his music is more important than winning a competition.
“No pressure. I am looking forward to greater things. God is good.”
For the Johns', their entire family is involved in some facet of performing arts and Carnival is no exception.
However, brother and sister said they were ecstatic at their individual victory.
For Joel, this was his first victory after 12 attempts at the King competition. A one-point difference ended his desire to compete in the 2024 national finals.
His sister, however, was not as fortunate as moments after she entered the Queen’s Park stage in the national preliminary round, in her second quest to be a national contender, her costume suffered an engineering mishap.
“We had to redo the entire frame within a matter of two to three days to compete here tonight."
While she initially felt frustrated and sad that all the hard work had come to nought, Allison said she stayed the course and entered the south competition.
“It was an emotional situation for me, but I am I did not give up or let that deter me.
“I just thought that was not my time yet, that God was saying ‘hold on a little bit, something greater is coming’ and I am happy I decided to come here tonight, which is kind of my redemption.”