Who is the best calypsonian of the 20th century? This question has been asked so many times and no one has ever been able to come up with a conclusive answer.
Dating back to the early 1900s calypsoes have been so diverse, topical and poignant it is a monumental challenge to chose the best calypsonian in almost a century of the art form. Dubbed "the voice of the people," world and T&T history, indeed the history of mankind, can be traced through every major epoch of civilisation.
Names like Atilla the Hun, Beginner, King Radio, Executor, Railway Douglas, Tiger and Spoiler are but a few etched in the annals of calypso. Since Independence in 1962, that dynasty has been enhanced by the likes of Kitchener, Sparrow, Bomber, Terror, Lord Shorty, Shadow, Merchant, Duke, Chalkdust, Black Stalin, Cro Cro, Sugar Aloes and Calypso Rose.
To arrive at the best calypsoes of the 20th century, Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (Tuco) embarked on an exercise to identify the Top 50 calypsonians of the period. The list makes interesting reading and you can e-mail your thoughts, responses, and probable omissions to blood[email protected]
Tuco's top 50 calypsonians of the 20th century(in alphabetical order)
1 Atilla the Hun (Raymond Quevedo)
2 Beginner (Egbert Moore)
3 Black Stalin (Leroy Calliste)
4 Blakie (Carlton Joseph)
5 Bomber (Clifton Ryan)
6 Brigo (Samuel Abraham)
7 Calypso Rose (McCartha Lewi)
8 Chalkdust (Dr Hollis Liverpool)
9 Composer (Fred Mitchell)
10 Crazy (Edwin Ayoung)
11 Cristo (Christopher Laidlow)
12 Cro Cro (Weston Rawlins)
13 Cypher (Dilary Scott)
14 David Michael Rudder
15 Duke (Kelvin Pope)
16 Executor (Phillip Garcia)
17 Explainer (Winston Henry)
18 Funny (Donric Williamson)
19 Growler (Errol Duke)
20 Gypsy (Winston Peters)
21 Invader (Rupert Grant)
22 Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts)
23 Lion (Raphael De Leon)
24 Machel Montano
25 Maestro (Cecil Hume)
26 Melody (Fitzroy Alexander)
27 Merchant (Dennis Franklyn)
28 Nelson (Robert Nelson)
29 Penguin (Seadley Joseph)
30 Power (Sonny Francois)
31 Pretender (Ulric Farrel)
32 Radio (Norman Spann)
33 Railway Douglas (Walter Douglas)
34 Relator (Willard Harr)
35 Scrunter (Owen Reyes Johnson)
36 Shadow (Winston Bailey)
37 Short Shirt (McLean Emmanuel)
38 Shorty (Garfield Blackman)
39 Singing Francine (Francine Edwards)
40 Singing Sandra (Sandra des Vignes Millington)
41 Small Island Pride (Theophilus Wood)
42 Sparrow (Slinger Francisco)
43 Spoiler (Theophilus Phillips)
44 SuperBlue (Austin Lyons)
45 Swallow (Rupert Philo)
46 Terror (Fitzgerald Henry)
47 Tiger (Neville Marcano)
48 Valentino (Emrold Phillip)
49 Wonder (Victor Atwell)
50 Zandolee (Sylvester Anthony)
Macomere Fifi wins in Canada
Congratulations to Tobago-born Macomere Fifi (Eulith Tara Woods), a member of Toronto's Professionals Kaiso Tent, who was crowned the 2013 Canada Calypso Monarch last Saturday. The competition was held by the Organisation of Calypso Performing Artists (OCPA).
Fifi's two selections were titled Never Again and Tell Me Why. This is the fifth time Fifi has won, starting with her debut year, back in 1998.
Meanwhile, south of Toronto, in Brooklyn, things are already waxing warm for New York Labour Day carnival, with the calypso tents advertising some delectable morsels for calypso lovers. For instance, Vincy Nite is scheduled for August 28. This show is being heralded as "a magnificent display of the 2013 St Vincent and the Grenadines Carnival, calypso and soca season." Several artistes, including Cauldric Forbes, Lively, Theo Homer, Scorcher and the veteran Becket, are billed to perform.
Vincy Nite is produced by Gailene Windsor of Vincy Soca, with the co-operation of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Development Authority and the Carnival Development Committee. Says Michelle Young of Everybody's Magazine: "We welcome Vincy Nite to Brooklyn's Calypso-Soca Revue. Thank you, St Vincent, for giving the world Kevin Lyttle, Becket, Winston Soso and Skinny Fabulous."
The Carnival Thursday Soca Showcase on August 29, beginning 9 pm, is the concept of Yankey Boy, the reigning World Soca Monarch. Yankey Boy, who was a hit in Trinidad at this year's Carnival, has invited young talented soca artistes, many of whom have won monarch titles in their respective islands, such as Superstar Jermaine of Carriacou, Grenada, to this event.
The Calypso-Soca Revue, traditionally called a "calypso tent," is presenting many idols of calypso such as Lord Funny, Brown Boy, Singing Diane, Count Robin, Calypso Rose and Becket. Every night is a Very Special Extravaganza (VSE), with the highly anticipated Ladies Nite billed for August 27, at 8 pm.
With the 51st independence anniversary of T&T falling exactly on Brooklyn's carnival weekend, two exciting T&T independence nights are planned. Patrons are being encouraged to bring flags, and wear our wear national colours.
On August 30, the Calypso-Soca Revue will present The Icons of Calypso. On the stroke of midnight, on August 31, the national anthem of the twin-island nation will be rendered and there will be champagne toasts by artistes and fans.
Everybody's Calypso-Soca Revue climaxes on August 31 with a spectacular show and dance. After performances by the icons of calypso and soca, it is party time until 4 am.
Calypso and soca fans coming to New York for the weeklong carnival events do not have to purchase Calypso-Soca Revue tickets in Brooklyn, as they can be obtained via www.everybodysmag.com.
For more information call 718 941 1879