The judges have made their pick for the Calypso Finals. But, if the crowd alone had to decide on Sunday evening July 3, 2011 during the Calypso semi-finals the number one spot would go to Nintus, judging from the tremendous support he got for both of his songs. Then there were all of those political commentary songs, most anti Government, including Morgee’s “Rumpelstiltskin” and “Judus”, Jynx “Too Much on Deh Account,” Bingo “My Job I Protecting” and “Memories and Wishes,” Duval “King Fish”, Niki “Mr Minister”, Super Sweet “Not This Guy”, Robbie “E Cay Sorti,” and Herb Black “Same Damn Ting.” And so, if the sentiments of the calypsonians and that of the fans is anything to judge the silly season by then let’s just say the Attorney General and the Gros Islet representative Leonard “Spider” Montoute who were in the audience might just be scratching their heads this week.
And of course there was judgement passed on the back up bands for the event, yes bands for there were two. Following a controversy last week over which band to use for the semi-finals; Caribbean Connection comprising Saint Lucians and Trinidadians and Gregory Piper’s All Star band, a compromise was arrived at to use both bands.
In the first segment, Caribbean Connections backed up Educator, Bingo, Nintus, Jynx, Animator, Morgee, Blaze, Bingo and Duval. Segment two featured Menelle, Walleigh, Nicki, Herb Black, TC Brown, Super Sweet, Sara Lee, Lady K, Ti Carro and Robbie backed by the all-star band. The verdict on which band sounded better is still out, but let me just say that they both sounded good, but the edge may be given to Caribbean Connection for clarity which may have had more to do with the engineering.
All this aside, Sunday’s semi-finals went smoothly and can be scored a success in terms of attendance, the general good quality of songs and how quickly the event flowed. Kudos too, to the MC’s Ezi Hall and newcomer AJ who also kept the audience entertained throughout. The event started sometime after 4pm with the first performer Educator putting the system to the test and grabbing the attention of the audience with his well articulated delivery of “De Conversation,” which was very well received. He was followed by Morgee who did “Rumpelstiltskin.” The artiste came dressed as the fairytale character he was singing about. The song gives the impression that there is a hidden game player making the moves behind the scenes for the incumbent and that character may no longer play fair due to the ingratitude of some. Morgee continued to express his disdain for the ruling party in “Judus,” declaring that he preferred to be referred to as Judus than Richard or Rufus.
Jynx who originally performed as Solange performed “I Need,” a social commentary using the imagery of a street beggar confronting the singer and her response to him expressing what she need to see in this country. Her second song was “Too Much on Deh Account,” a strong political commentary and good performance overall by the singer. Animator and Blaze also put their cases forward in this segment, but it was Nintus who would have the entire audience going along with his “St Chu,” which ignited the National Cultural Centre. The singer suggested that with so much involvement in the island by the Taiwanese and Ambassador Tom Chou that the island should be renamed St Chu. Duval continued the political commentary with “Focus” singing about Government’s priorities and his second song made jest that as a fisherman he was finding it difficult to sell kingfish these days. Bingo continued the bashing of the present administration particularly the Prime Minister and some of his alleged actions with the song “My Job I Protecting.”
In round two Educator invoked much imagery with “Pigeon View” with the birds of the air explaining some of the misdeeds they see daily while Nintus was again the show stopper this time with his popular “I’m a Man Not an Angel.” The song had the audience singing along to his chorus and enjoying his dance moves on stage. Bingo’s “Memories and Wishes,” also went down very well in round two.
In the second Segment Menell got things off to a brilliant start with “Rebellious Youth,” while Walleigh’s “Invoke de Lucian Spirit,” was performed against a nice backdrop of African and Indigenous rhythms. Niki’s “Mr Minister” showed that she belonged in Calypso as a first time performer in that arena while Herb Black’s “De Labour Code” for some brought back memories of his classic “One Day’s Work.” Super Sweet (whose really name is Guy Joseph) was quite creative with his “Not This Guy” expressing some of the things he would not want to mistaken for as Minister Guy Joseph. Sara Lee’s performance gave hope that the future of Calypso seemed strong in the hands of young performers and female Calypsonians. Her two songs “De Root of Crime” and “Doggie House” was very well performed. Ten year veteran TC Brown performed “End of Time” in round one and in round two looking very much like a Lucian Avatar in his body paint performed “Today is De Day.” The performer’s prowess, creativity and experience was exemplified when near the end of his performance he called the band leader Piper centre stage and acknowledged his 41 year contribution to the art-form. Brown then performed a new verse inspired by the “band controversy” which sealed a wonderful performance. With a great voice Lady K who performed “My Country” and “Blame” needs to work on selling her songs to the audience and judges while Ti Carro’s “Carro’s Legacy” missed the mark slightly for a song with a good concept.
Robbie’s “E Cay Sorti” was performed in round one, with “Barrel Children” a song with much potential, but maybe a little too late, in round two. Menell “Two Toms” in round two was one of the stronger performances then, while Walleigh did “Disco Lights,” Niki “Me De Jammette,” Herb Black “Same Damn Ting”, Supersweet “Every man Has a Vice,” and Ti Carro “Save de Children.”
The semi-final competition which was held at the National Cultural Centre, featured eighteen calypsonians from five of the six tents and was broadcast “live” on Choice Channel 39. That in no way hampered the attendance at the venue.
Following the judges deliberations Sunday evening, the results were audited and released by The Saint Lucia Carnival Stakeholders Committee first to tent leaders, then to the media.
The finalists selected are, from Black & White Ambassadors; Morgie, Bingo and Educator, performing with Soca Village Niki, Walliegh and TC Brown and from South tent Menell, Nintus and Animator.
The nine will come up against reigning Calypso Monarch “De Invader” at the Calypso Monarch finals, Sunday July 17, 2011, 8pm at the Beausejour Cricket Ground.
With five of the finalist having supported the move to use Caribbean Connections, four having opted out in support of the “All Star Band,” no word yet as to who will be used as the band for the finals and who will make this judgement call.