This year’s Calypso competition: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


By Neil Marks

“Junior! The man fuh the graphics. Weh e deh?” Malcom Ferreira, the MC for the night shouted as they readied to start the junior and senior calypso competitions at the Tabatinga Ground in Lethem Friday night.

Mind you, that was 9: 20 and the competition was advertised to start at 7.

It’s hard to describe the audience as a crowd. There were just about 100 people around the stage area and some others scattered to the edge of the ground where the drinks and food were being sold and a few tables and chairs. The MC had to literally beg and plead for them to get closer to the stage.

“Calypso is not a Lethem thing,” one man reasoned as we both sought some roast nuts and Banks DIH’s finest to pass the time.

“If they had Chutney or Soca they woulda get a crowd,” he reasoned.

Some did appease the MC and the competition got started. First, it was time for the junior calypsonians. There were seven of them and everything ran smoothly.

Vinel Hinds, the oldest of the juniors (you had to be 20 or younger), stood out with her rendition of “Woman”, chronicling the challenges women face and how they overcome them. She would have to wait a good few hours to learn that she had won the competition.

The organisers chose to take a break as the sound system played some Soca music to get going with the adult competition.

Vinel Hinds won the Junior Calypso Monarch competition. (Shatanand Anude/News Room photo)

It was just after midnight that OKC took to the stage. He was the ninth performer but no one before him had performed better.

“E sound good,” one man shouted from behind me.

“Either fuss or second!” another predicted, getting the approval of others around him.

OKC did what he had to do to win.

His song was carefully constructed and he played on the Biblical Promised Land flowing with milk and honey to describe how foreigners see Guyana as a prosperous land where they can have a bright future. The melody was catchy, so by the time the chorus came around the second time, everyone could sing along.

His lyrics were witty and hilarious as he described the movement of foreigners into Guyana, using language commonly used.  However, his lyrics did at times rely on stereotypes, especially his references to “Chiney” and his resort to unintelligent mimicking of Chinese language. Perhaps he could have found another way to still use lyrics that were relevant and relatable.

The rhythm for the song allowed for just the right groove so OKC could work the crowd and it was this charisma that helped to engage the audience and made the performance successful.

Once his performance was over, all that was left to do was to crown him.

But, nope! Call the Police. Literally.

Sergeant Lacon, with stage name EGO, performs ‘Call the Police’. (Shatanand Anude/News Room photo)

Linden Police officer Police Sergeant Quincy Lacon, was up soon after and he had all the trappings to go along with his performance.

His appearance on stage was preceded by his arrival with Police bike and pickup escorts, flashing lights and sirens and all!

Done! He had the hype. But could he deliver a good Calypso?

The answer was as soon as he started. He had all the ingredients of a perfect Calyspo. Catchy rhythm and grove lent to the serious message he had – to call the Police. When? If somebody beats their wife, if there are road accidents, if there is human trafficking. But also, call the Police if somebody thief yo fowl – or if somebody snatches Charmain’s wig off the line.

“That’s the best,” the constant commentator next to me quipped.

“That’s the best; the man lash everybody.”

Naturally, when it was announced that Sergeant Lacon did not win but had tied with last year’s monarch Young Bill Rogers, for second place, the chant was “Call the Police!”

Noticeably absent from this year’s calypsos were the commentary on the political scandals and happenings of the day. One has to wonder why.

Calypsonians offer a window into the minds and thinking of ordinary people and if we are serious about continuing to promote this art form – and indeed it should be promoted and enriched – then we have to be serious and let Calypsonians be Calypsonians.

I get the feeling that this year’s calypsos were “safe”, with artistes being careful not to offend the rich and powerful.

But that’s just me and my feeling.

But, am, can we at least, work on our planning and organising and marketing?

Artistes feed off of a crowd, so can we do more to promote the competition and hold them in areas where we know they will have greater appeal?

Can we get the sound system to play RELEVANT music to get the ears of the audience attuned to Calypso music, rather than Soca or whatever else? We have had some great Calypsos over the years. Can someone do a playlist to pass on to the sound system the next time?

And PLEASE, can we have an alternative to the fence when we need to get rid of Banks’ finest from our bladder?

Oh, we would also like to have an alternative to dropping thrash on the ground.

1 Comment
  1. Patricia Pierre says

    Congratulations to you Vinel nd OKC. You have both done us proud. Do keep on using your God given talent

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.