By Kiana Wilburg
Seasoned Calypsonian Lester ‘De Professor’ Charles was fittingly placed at the head of the class, emerging as the new ‘Monarch’, when the 2016 Adult Calypso Competition Finals concluded in the wee hours yesterday at Banks DIH compound, Thirst Park.
The witty political commentary in his winning rendition entitled “We nah put yuh back deh” focused on what he described as the rampant corruption and merciless exploitation of Guyana’s wealth, which occurred under the watch of former President, Bharrat Jagdeo.
Pointing to a life-sized image of a rat dressed in a suit and tie, he sang, “Look how yuh come running like a glutton swine since ya hear ‘bout de oil find/Yuh nah go back deh, we nah put ya back deh/Guyanese got to be going insane to put a rat like you as deh leader again.”
COMMANDING STAGE PRESENCE
Blended with his commanding stage presence and hilarious antics, ‘De Professor’ drew most patrons from their seats in obvious excitement as they gathered closer to him on the raised platform.
It was unanimously agreed that ‘De Professor’ deserved this year’s title – in the process dethroning Manoel ‘King Perai’ Pereira – but his win was not without some spirited attempts to win the coveted title by his competitors.
The sponsors (Ministry of Education – Department of Culture, Youth and Sport and Banks DIH) would certainly not have been disappointed, as hundreds of Calypso lovers from across the country gathered for the show which started around 9:00 pm, with television personality Basil Bradshaw chairing the proceedings.
Kicking off the show was Lassell ‘The Mighty Duke’ Duke with his tune “Not Me”. He earned an encouraging round of applause, but it was ‘The Mighty Believer (Kenroy Fraser)’s “De Coalition” that served to enliven the crowd for what turned out to be a thrilling evening of great calypso music.
His song praised the coalition administration and the work that it was doing with regard to a wide range of sectors. It was an uncomplicated piece that was witty, and ridiculed the former administration.
“WE NEED TO STOP IT”
As the first lady on stage, Queen Daria (Daria Barrow)’s song, “We need to stop it” was an appeal for all to join in the fight against domestic violence wherever it is detected. She even opened with a dramatic skit, which saw a young man playing the role of an abusive husband who tries to persuade Daria to return to their home. He stressed that her trying to find a way out would be virtually senseless and even if she were to go to the police, he has “got them in his pocket.”
On that very note she said that all must get involved in the conversation on how to fight the scourge. But unfortunately the seriousness of her piece was, from the lukewarm response, a hit with only some members of the audience and a miss with most.
There were other outstanding performances from calypsonians such as ‘Ras Marcus’ (John Marcus) who sang “Deh now looking fuh cup”, reigning Junior Calypso Monarch T’Shanna Cort who performed her, “I have hope” and Martin ‘The Mighty Voter” Byrne, who melodiously belted out his piece titled, “Call dem pussah.”
The return of Camille Goliah-Basdeo, popularly known as ‘Lady Tempest’, to the stage, was a welcoming sight. Even though the three-time winner stayed away from the competitive aspect of the genre for some 10 years, she proved that she has not missed a single beat.
Like Queen Daria, Lady Tempest focused on domestic violence. Her song was called, “Raise your voice against abuse.” While her showmanship was not extraordinary, she made up for it with a well written piece that incorporated the right elements of a compelling song. The idea of her topic was well explored while showing her other competitors how to maintain appeal with a serious topic.
It earned her third place in the competition while her colleague, ‘The Mighty Believer’ secured the runner-up spot.
Coming in fourth was Roger ‘Young Bill Rogers’ Hinds with his song, “This is what ah dream.” His piece spoke about the visions he got regarding corruption under the PPP regime; the hope to be restored by the new administration and the fact that “certain politicians” will remain, “the rat, the goat and the ugly duckling” even in the face of change.
As the audience prepared itself for another performance, many did not pass up the opportunity to purchase a book on the life of one of Guyana’s most decorated calypsonians, Lord Canary. It was written by Allan Fenty and was launched on Thursday last at the National Library.
The most spectacular performance of the night was that of young Abigail James. If there were a prize for such grand stagecraft, it is highly likely that it would have been hers to have and to hold with ease. She confidently took the stage with her piece, “Guyana smiling again.”
She had dozens of balloons and flags, masqueraders on stilts, red and white glitters falling and blowing all around and well-choreographed backup dancers. It was certainly a mini-version of a Mashramani celebration. But it was not enough to land her into the top four. This left most members of the audience bewildered.
The judges scored the Calypsonians on various categories which included; showmanship, attire, diction, musical form, compatibility and originality. The adjudicators in this case in particular, seemed disappointed after observing that a significant portion of her song came from a piece that was done many years ago.
When it was time for the defending Monarch to take the stage, the audience went into a frenzy. They expected great things from ‘King Perai’, given his entertaining and unique piece in 2015. But fans were left disappointed even though they supported him throughout this year’s effort entitled, “Dey used to fight me down” which was based on a message he had to share with the nation from the late founder of the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) Dr. Cheddi Jagan.
But by the end of his performance, most were already certain that it was ‘De Professor’ who had taught everyone a lesson.
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