With her thoughtful calypso, The You in You Allison Bernard (Warrior Empress) who sings at the Revue calypso tent, placed 3rd at the 2019 NWAC National Calypso Queens competition. One person who was at Queen's Hall called her composition “a dissertation”. This calypso deserves a comment or critique that goes beyond what was written by reporters who covered the event.
Two years ago I wrote about media and its critique of music “Critics are a major resource in the creative arts, whether we are dealing with fashion shows, culinary arts, award ceremonies, art exhibitions, drama, dance or poetry. Where calypso, pan and Indian music are concerned in Trinidad & Tobago there are issues that need ventilation...”
“At one point there were useful critiques of calypso and calypso tents from Derek Walcott in the Trinidad Guardian, Keith Smith in the Express and there were also Mark Lyndersay, Terry Joseph and Debbie Jacobs.”
I want to congratulate Warrior Empress for her concern about the low self-esteem associated with depression and other forms of mental illness. This year only one other calypsonian, Joanne Rowley (Tigress) has given some thought to dealing with depression. I think that the nation should pay attention to Tigress' Who feels it knows it.
T&T owes a debt of gratitude to both women for leading the way as we struggle with crises which seem unsurmountable. Warrior Empress in her song describes situations and at once offers encouragement about how the problems may be approached. She does so from the first verse to the end of the calypso.
In the second verse, she sang apparently about a recent tragic situation.
“Fear deceit and lies
Form the pillars and foundations of our lives
Afraid of what they would say
Once our true character gets displayed
So we run to Facebook Instagram and Twitter
Depicting our lives so perfect complete with glitter
This guy was so nice and jolly
He was the life of the party
Next day he was a suicide story
Leaving behind a trail of agony”
The chorus answers with her encouragement
“Know the You in You my brother
Sista why should you want to be like someone else
You perfectly done with all your imperfections
No one has authority to say who you should be
Next time you feel unworthy insecure and down
Shake off that vibe put on a smile and remember
A masterpiece has no replica”
But a problem about calypso remains. Warrior Empress' perceptive calypso is not likely to be given the rotation comparable to what a select group of soca artistes is now getting on the majority of the radio stations.
That is unless the media helps to inform audiences about pertinent aspects concerning calypso compositions that are written, performed and recorded year after year. Thereby listeners will possibly make their collective voices heard and thus establish a balance in the quality of the songs that are now broadcast.