Solo girls recall Ras Shorty I at Music Festival

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Melody Nicholas performs Rash Shorty I’s Push the Creator Out on her way to second place in the Under-19 Calypso Solo category of the TT Music Festival at the Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, on March 4. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

THREE girls sung the songs of the late Garfield “Ras Shorty I” Blackman to vie for the under-19 calypso solo class on March 4 at Naparima Bowl in San Fernando at the start of the south Trinidad leg of the 2024 Trinidad and Tobago Music Festival.

Blackman is the grandfather of soca star Nailah Blackman and founder of soca music, in its original incarnation.

Gianna Griffith of St Joseph Convent, San Fernando, topped the class ahead of second-placed Melody Nicholas and her friend Emma Roberts third, both of St Gabriel’s Girls RC Primary School. Kicking off the contest, Roberts sang Watch Out My Children. She grew in confidence during her performance to give a fabulous ending, with her presentation involving a few words in a foreign language and a little dance, clad in all-white.

Next came Griffith, conveying an almost conversational chiding in also rendering Watch Out My Children. She too had a wonderful ending.

Singing Blackman’s Push the Creator Out, Nicholas had a sweet voice, enhanced by lively hand gestures, in a performance ending in her dancing off stage.

Gianna Griffith performs Rash Shorty I’s Watch Out My Children on her way to first place in the Under-19 Calypso Solo category of the TT Music Festival at the Naparima Bowl, San Fernando on March 4. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

Adjudicator Nubia Williams praised Roberts for her deep understanding of the piece, awarding her 83 out of 100 marks for third place.

The judge praised Nicholas’ very good pitching, clear lyrics and very good expression, giving her 85 marks for second place.

She hailed Griffith for a powerful delivery which she could “feel and mood.”

Williams said Griffith had “very good expression throughout.”

Griffith was awarded 87 marks and first place.

Roberts told Newsday, “Well, I felt a little nervous, because this is my first time doing Music Festival. I don’t know why I felt a little nervous because I normally do this type of competitions and I get through.”

Emma Roberts performs Rash Shorty I’s Watch Out My Children in the Under-19 Calypso Solo category of the TT Music Festival at the Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, on March 4. Roberts placed third in the category. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

She said she and Nicholas had sought to represent their school well that day.

“On Thursday we are going to sing, The Chimpanzee, a classic song, the entire standard four choir.”

Roberts explained that Ras Shorty I’s song was a warning not to listen to the Devil trying to get you to take drugs.

Daniella Maharaj tops plays Jit Samaroo’s Pan Parranda in the Under-19 Steelpan Solos category at the TT Music Festival, Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, on March 4. – Photo by Lincoln Holder

Nicholas told Newsday, “It was good. I was much improved.”

Asked if she had any advice to other kids not doing music, she said, “Well, you could try something. It is very fun and hard work pays off. When you do it you get relaxed.”

Griffith told Newsday she has a vocal trainer.

Chelsea Hanumanta, who placed third in the Under-19 Steelpan Solos category, plays the test piece, Jit Samaroo’s Pan Parranda, at the TT Music Festival, Naparima Bowl, San Fernando, on March 4. – Photo by LIncoln Holder

“I have been singing for about five years now. I started in a school choir, St Gabriel’s Girls RC.”

The lower-sixth pupil said she is now also a member of the St Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando, school choir.