3 former monarchs among top 10 for Independence calypso finals

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Michelle A Henry performs We Still Here at the Diamond Jubilee Independence Calypso Monarch Semi-Finals at Naparima Bowl in San Fernando on Saturday night. – Marvin Hamilton

TEN calypsonians have advanced to the finals of the Diamond Jubilee Independence Calypso Monarch competition 2022.

In a keenly contested competition, three of four former monarchs – Donald Duane O’Connor, King Luta, Karen Asche – clinched places in the finals with a chance to win the $200,000 first prize that is up for grabs.

King of extempo Brian London’s performance of, A Small Price to Pay, assured him a place among the top ten.

Reigning king, Roderick Gordon (Chuck Gordon), who won the last competition held ten years ago in observance of the country’s 50th Independence celebration in 2012, failed to secure a place among the finalists. His selection was, I then TT.

Adjudication was based on lyrical content (40), music (30) presentation (10) and 20 points for originality.

Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, was the venue for the semi-finals on Saturday evening.

Both the auditorium and the amphitheatre were opened in anticipation of a large audience for the competition, jointly hosted by the Trinbago Unified Calypso Organisation (TUCO) and the government’s Diamond Jubilee Committee.

Victoria “Queen Victoria” Cooper performs Hold on Girl at the Diamond Jubilee Independence Calypso Monarch Semi-Finals at Naparima Bowl in San Fernando on Saturday night. – Marvin Hamilton

Given the fact that it is the first Independence competition in ten years and the entrance fee was $60, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Independence, the audience was disappointing.

Even when the rains came and people from the outside ventured indoors, many seats in the auditorium remained vacant.

Nevertheless, the 20 competitors, all dressed in the national colours, gave their best with their nation-building and patriotic songs and the audience showed its appreciation.

King Luta, one of the finalists, who has retired from the calypso monarch competitions, said how happy he was to be back in the Naparima Bowl before a live audience.

He was rewarded with lusty applause after his contribution, Celebrate with Pride.

Covid19 made live shows impossible over much of the past two years.

Although the show started a bit late, MC Damien Melville ensured the competition flowed smoothly with no hiccups. Miguella Simon, singing Sticking Together, kicked off the evening after Trinbago Unified Calypso Organisation (TUCO) secretary Shirlane Hendrickson welcomed fans to Naparima Bowl.

Twenty contestants and some four hours later, young Nicholas Lucas ended the show with his contribution, Since Dr Williams.

In between, there were some riveting and powerful performances from finalists Snakey (Heaven Charles), accompanied by three male dancers who demonstrated some extreme gymnastic moves, complementing his energetic performance and uplifting message in, What You Need Again Trinbago.

Tamika Darius, accompanied by dancers who performed a skit with a hospital bed trying to resuscitate the national flag depicted as the patient, earned sustained applause for her powerful rendition of, Now More Than Ever.

Eunice Peters performs Hard Questions. – Marvin Hamilton

Although she was not selected, many believed Michelle A Henry’s performance of, We Still Here, deserved a place in the finals.

President of TUCO South/Central Ras Kommanda, backed by music band Vince Rivers and the Soca Unit entertained the audience as the judges tallied the scores.

TUCO’s president Ainsley King who graced the stage to receive the envelope containing winners, commented that the show was of a high standard. King said he was looking forward to the final to be held at Queens Park Savannah on September 25.

The winner will receive a cash prize of $200,000, the sum of $100,000 for the person placing second and $60,000 for the third-place winner. The other seven contestants will each receive $20,000. The top three will also receive free internet service from bmobile for one year.

Tickets for the final cost $60 in keeping with the anniversary theme and are available from the Queen’s Park Savannah as well as TUCO’s offices.

The 10 finalists

Aaron Duncan

Bethany Lightbourne

Brian London

Donald Duane O’Connor

Eunice Peters

Heaven “Snakey” Charles

Karen Asche

Morel “King Luta” Peters

Tameka Darius

Victoria “Queen Victoria” Cooper.