Fifty years ago the late Lord Brynner (Kade Simon) created history by winning the first Independence Calypso Monarch title, appropriately singing Trinidad & Tobago Independence. The bald-pated bard defeated pre-final favourite Mighty Sparrow, followed by Nap Hepburn, and Mighty Bomber, respectively. Lesser placings were filled by Lord Pretender, The Hawk, Mighty Power, Mighty Dougla, Lord Cristo, Chang Kai Chek, Mighty Striker and Lazy Harrow. The second Independence Calypso Monarch final was held in 1987, to mark the nation’s 25th anniversary of Independence. That title was copped by dimunitive calypsonian Cro Cro (Weston Rawlins). A third of these finals–the Lord Brynner 50th Independence Anniversary National Calypso Monarch Final–is scheduled for tomorrow, at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain, this time to mark T&T’s 50th Independence anniversary.
One of the things which makes this final remarkable is that five of its participants are former national calypso monarchs, including reigning title-holder Duane O’Connor. Previous monarchs also in the fray are Singing Sandra (Sandra Des Vignes-Millington); King Luta (Morel Peters); Sugar Aloes (Michael Osouna); and Karene Asche. Other finalists are former Calypso Queens Kizzie Ruiz and Karen Eccles-Thomas; 2012 International Groovy Soca Monarch finalist Chucky (Roderick Gordon); former national calypso monarch finalist Heather Mac Intosh; and Michelle Henry.
Another unique element in the final is that women outnumber the men, said to be the first time this has ever happened in a calypso monarch final at national level.
Staged by Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) and the Ministry of Arts and Multiculturalism, this Golden Jubilee competition has had its fair share of controversy, the latest occuring this week when finalist Brian London was booted out of the contest for allegedly plagiarising a calypso previously performed by Euncie Peters. His place was taken by previous first reserve finalist Sugar Aloes. When Brynner won the Independence title 50 years ago he took home the grand first prize of $1,000. Tomorrow night’s winner is assured of a first-prize purse of half-million dollars.
Lord Brynner 50th Independence Anniversary National Calypso Monarch Final—Finalists and selections
• Sandra “Singing Sandra” Des Vignes-Millington: Red, White and Black
• Roderick “Chucky” Gordon: Bear With Me
• Morel “King Luta” Peters: Fifty Fifty
• Duane O’Connor: Unity in Independence
• Kizzie Ruiz: T&T Forever
• Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osouna: Team T&T
• Karene Asche: Cascadu
• Michelle Henry: Our National
• Heather MacIntosh: The Reason
• Karen Eccles-Thomas: Give— I Will Reciprocate