On the road to a Virtual Monarch
This year’s calypso season is definitely one for the record books. Kaiso amidst a global pandemic, stringent health protocols and cancelled carnival celebrations makes for the perfect opportunity for ingenuity, and the Dominica Calypso Association rose to the challenge. This 2021 calypso competition is essentially a two-round competition; semi-finals and finals, with an initial elimination process which took place from the submission of recorded songs. Patrons at the actual competitions are limited but virtual viewing options are vast. The emerging victor this year will be a virtual monarch, not ending the reign of the current king, King Jaydee, but enjoying a separate, COVID-19 inspired one year reign.
All guns were blazing last evening as thirty calypsonians took to the stage at the Old Mill Cultural Center to fight their way to the virtual monarchy. Many were worried that it just wouldn’t be a competition worth having, but the calypsonians begged to differ. The mix of competitors included seven past monarchs; Tasha P, Jaydee, Bobb, Dice, Karessah, Observer and Hunter. Also on the line up was newcomer, Ace (Dr. Al Casimir) and young calypsonian Mighty D. The ladies could not be forgotten with returning contenders Alisha, second-timer Abiyah, and persistent competitor Lady S. And of course, sprinkled in the mix were those calypsonians typically associated with humour and good fun; Sour Sour, Trinity, Pick Lock and Triumph. The Swinging Stars band backed up the singers and veteran calypsonian, the Web was the gracious MC. At the end of the battle, the judges selected fifteen calypsonians to make it through to the finals, and two reserves.
It was no surprise that people like the 9-time calypso king, Dice, found favour with the judges. His tune “Water” which laments practices of water company Dowasco, amazingly transformed the calypso arena into a wet fete, with patrons jumping and going wild in front of the stage, splashing water everywhere. It’s no secret that Dice can rock a crowd, and his performance didn’t disappoint. As a matter of fact, I suspect this year Asa Bantan might even need to step aside as the self-proclaimed “Wet Fete King” and make room for Dice. Trinity was another calypsonian who wowed the crowd with his rendition of “Open Borders.” There’s something about saying the PM opened his border in Creole that really sent the crowd into a frenzy! And let’s not forget the hit man, the champion, Sour Sour! With a sweet melody this year, catchy lyrics and his characteristic charisma, he was bound to find his way into a final which will be like no other. Sour Sour, the consummate road march king, has a chance to be the virtual king in 2021! And if you thought Lugarz, Mr. Forgetful himself, was setting himself up for a fall by singing “Who’s Next,” in the competition last night, you’d have been wrong! He got through his rendition without forgetting a line and the crowd breathed a collective sigh of relief!
Hitting the stage on February 13th for a historic calypso finals will be Checker, Checko, Nachael, Dice, Bobb, Hunter, Trinity, Sour Sour, Tasha P, Karessah, Observer, Abiyah, Jaydee, Oracle and Lugarz. The reserves are Lady S and Triumph. But what would a calypso season be, virtual or otherwise, without patrons disagreeing with the judges? Some hoped Mighty Omi would have gotten the nod, or that Son of the Saint would be given the chance. That as it may, the judges’ decision will always be final and somewhat disliked, but that won’t prevent us from seeing each other at the finals!