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11-time finalist takes the crown
After 11 attempts at trying to capture the Calypso Monarch crown, Devon Seale yesterday snatched the coveted title and $1 million first prize from his 11 rivals.
Seale, who sang Spirit of Carnival and Respect God’s Voice, dethroned defending champion Roderick “Chuck” Gordon at the Dimanche Gras show, Queen’s Park Savannah, before a half-filled Grand Stand.
Placing second and taking home $500,000 in the 2016 Calypso Monarch finals was 22-year-old University of T&T student and newcomer to the stage Helon Francis who delivered Paradise and Real Bandits, which were well-received by spectators. Francis also copped the Young King title in the National Action Cultural Committee’s competition last month.
Gordon, who was aiming for his hat-trick, had to settle for third position and $250,000 after rendering Fixing Time and It Eh Go Wuk.
A total of $2,420,000 in prize money will be distributed to the 12 finalists.
The theme for this year’s show was entitled Unforgettable—The Soundtrack of your Life.
As Seale was bodily lifted into the air by jubilant and screaming supporters, friends and family members, he paid tribute to the late Lord Kitchener (Aldwyn Roberts), Carlyle “Jazzy” Pantin and Lord Pretender (Aldric Farrell) for his victory.
He said these three men gave him an opportunity to audition and sing.
“They always gave me advice and pushed me to the limit. I will forever be indebted to them,” Seale said after being crowned.
In 1999, Seale made his debut in the Kalypso Revue tent managed by Lord Kitchener.
“I feel wonderful. I feel great. I have been toiling for years. Last year I put in a lot of work on stage but I disappointed my fans with my second song. I had to come back and take what I gave away. It just shows that hard work and persistence pay off. When it’s your time, it’s your time,” a smiling Seale said.
Seale admitted that many of his competitors had compelling songs.
“I think the judges got it right with the top five places.”
In congratulating his rivals, 39-year-old Seale singled out Francis who is his first cousin.
“For us it’s a double celebration tonight. Helon had two dynamic songs. The sky is the limit for him. He has a lot of potential and will certainly go far with his voice and talent,” Seale said.
He said with artistes like Francis, calypso was in safe hands.
What was the secret to Seale’s success?
“I think my songs were well-executed and balanced. They were of the right mix.”
Having sung calypso for the past 20 years, Seale said, he was fortunate to be a Calypso Monarch finalist 11 times, but victory always eluded him.
The closest he came to winning the crown was second.
“I have been knocking on the door of the monarchy for 11 years. Last year I placed second. Now it has finally opened. Victory at last!”
Seale said this year he went back to the drawing board and came with a different concept and plan, which worked in his favour.
Instead of singing strictly political commentaries, Seale changed the choice of his songs a bit.
He opted to deliver Respect God’s Voice—a political commentary written by Marlon Rondon—and an uptempo calypso entitled The Spirit of Carnival penned by Christophe Grant.
Respect God’s Voice tells of the People’s Partnership’s decision to file election petitions to declare the September 7 general election null and void.
Seale urged former prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar to respect the voice of the people who voted overwhelmingly for the People’s National Movement in the marginal constituencies of Tunapuna, La Horquetta/Talparo, San Fernando West and St Joseph.
Seale described Persad-Bissessar as a sore loser and accused the People’s Partnership of plundering the Treasury during their term in office.
“Thank God today in the Savannah the voice of the people was the voice of God. The people decided that I had to take this 2016 monarch.”
In the second round of the competition, Seale, dressed as a blue devil armed with a fork in his right hand, offered patrons an upbeat calypso, which he said had been lacking in the competition.
He said in years gone by calypsonians such as Explainer, Sparrow and Scrunter entertained patrons at the Big Yard with a party song, which he reintroduced on stage to entertain the crowd.
The former TSTT employee who owns an Information Technology/security consultancy business plans to invest some of his winnings into his business.
He also plans to host a show celebrating his 20 years in the calypso fraternity.