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Lady Africa takes extempo crown
Lady Africa (Leslie-Ann Bristow) is the 2012 Extempo Monarch. The first female in the history of the competition to secure the title, Lady Africa used her vast experience to outshine newcomer to the genre, Brian London, in the final round of the contest, staged as an element of Kaisorama at the Grand Stand, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, last Thursday night, and take home the $100,000 prize.
One of the few females to embrace extempo singing, and the only one who has stuck with it, Lady Africa started competing in 1989 and has been a finalist in every year, save 1990 and 2004. She has been first runner-up on three occasions. Eight finalists faced the adjudication panel in round one, from which four — Myron B, Lingo, London and Lady Africa — advanced to round two in which Myron B and Lingo had to extemporise on the topic The Lord Nelson, while Africa and London’s triumphant topic was I Am A Bacchanalist.
There was no topic in the final round, so each competitor had to come up with hard-hitting original verses to win the approval of the judging panel that included Diane Marshall-Holdip, Valarie Modeste, Melvin Charles, Lloyd Gellineau, Raul Hercules, Nicole Poyer and Sheila Warner. For his second placing, London earned $70,000. In the political commentary category, Kurt Allen placed first with the composition Long Live Calypso to win the $25,000 prize. Second was Heather McIntosh doing The Adjective, while third place went to Bunny B (Neville Brown) for Political Lightning.
Reigning Young King Duane O’Connor took the social commentary category title and the $25,000 prize with his winning selection The Hunt Is On. Kurt Allen placed second singing When Will It End, leaving the veteran Chalkdust (Dr Hollis Liverpool) to fill third spot doing How’s Dat. Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (Tuco), host of the programme, made special presentations to musician Clarence Curvan and calypsonian Lord Nelson (Robert Nelson) for their contributions to the calypso art form over the years.
Making guest appearances on the playbill were 2012 Junior Calypso Monarch Aaron Duncan, Power (Sonny Francois), Trinidad Rio (Daniel Brown), Singing Francine (Francine Edwards), pannist Earl Brooks, SuperBlue (Austin Lyons), and the North West Laventille Cultural Movement. Musical accompaniment was provided by Kelly Green & Harmony, and show hosts were Wendell Etienne and Arlene Alexis.