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Juniors, Relator shine at extempo show
A delightful showcase of extempo singing by three junior calypsonians and a nostalgic musical trip down memory lane by virtuoso performer Relator (Willard Harris) were memorable moments in “The Extempo Fraternity’s Golden Jubilee Extempo Show” staged at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s, on Friday night.
Hosted by the North Zone of Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (Tuco) in conjunction with the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development in celebration of the nation’s 50th anniversary of Independence, the event attracted an almost full house of patrons who demonstrated sincere appreciation for the efforts of the three youngsters—National Junior Calypso Monarch Aaron Duncan, Princes Town Junior Calypso Monarch Jeremy Rodriguez, and Kevan Calliste (grandson of Dr Leroy ‘Black Stalin’ Calliste)—with loud cheers and sustained applause.
In an amusing, good-natured lyrical joust, the three youngsters showed their worth as emerging exponents of the genre, using crafty lines and proper body language to get their messages across. The confident and mature approach applied to their presentations rivaled that of some of the experienced practitioners appearing on the cast.
Relator, the 1980 Calypso Monarch, as is his wont, charmed the audience into singing along with him as he unveiled vintage selections from the vast body of work of the late Melody, inclusive of Crazy Love, Sugar Pie, and I’ve Seen The Devil.
He also delivered selected items from the songbooks of Composer, and the late Terror, Dougla and Kitchener that included Cacada, Little Monkey, Sly Mongoose, Split Me In Two, Lazy Man Paul, Mas In Madison Square Garden, and The Road.
The extempo showcase consisted of performances by reigning Extempo Champion Lady Africa (Leslie-Ann Bristow), Gypsy (Winston Peters), Lingo (Joseph Vautor Placeliere), Black Sage (Phillip Murray), Contender (Mark John), Short Pants (Llewellyn Mac Intosh), Abebele (Neil Baptiste), Brian London, Wendell Etienne, Myron B, Gary Ranks, Francois Ottley, Dion Diaz, and Fireball (Rohan Richards).
The majority, though, seemed challenged by the “long-winded” topics that appeared to have been decided upon by someone with a penchant for words. For example, there were: Michelle Say We Must Be Disciplined In Order To Produce Tolerance; Consider Keshorn Throw Wood In The Fire And Get Gold; and Fifty Years Have Passed Eighteen Security Ministers And The War Goes On On Crime.
In extempo singing, topics with too many words only manage to confuse participants who already are burdened with the enormous task of coming up with verses that make sense of the topics they choose. As a result, on the occasion many cast members appeared to be out of their depth, and were unable to explore their subjects thoroughly.
However, the extempo war, after the interval, allowed them the opportunity to really show off their craft. Outstanding in this segment devoid of topics, were Lingo, Gypsy, Lady Africa, Brian London, Myron B, Black Sage, Francois Ottley and Don Diaz. Even MC Tommy Joseph was encouraged to participate. There were guest appearances by Contender, 2012 Independence Calypso Monarch Chucky (Roderick Gordon), and Phoenix (daughter of the Mighty Sparrow).
Musical accompaniment was provided by Bunny B & Moodz, while show host duties were shared by Shirlane Hendrickson and Tommy Joseph. Special guests were Calypso King of the World the Mighty Sparrow (Dr Slinger Francisco) and his wife Margaret.