Veteran Calypsonian Elwyn “Black Wizard” Mc Quilkin has branded as “mediocre” the final list of calypsonians to advance from Sunday’s Melody/Pappitette semi-finals show for Dimanche Gras on August 9 at the national sporting stadium at Queen’s Park.
A winner of three top calypso titles on the island – Calypso Monarch, Soca Monarch and Road March – Black Wizard expressed concerns with the type of songs that were given the nod by the judges to make it into the finals following the semis at the Grenville Bus Terminus.
“The material is not the type of material you would have had in better days in the past but it’s all mediocre material going forward by and large but it has a few good ones,” said the artiste in an exclusive interview with The New Today Newspaper on Monday.
Trinidad-based but Grenadian born female calypsonian, Georgina Charles Mc Intyre known as “The Messenger” and who sang “The voice” and “Just one mile” was at the top of the field with 814 points, which was 5 points more than Kelly “Rootsman Kelly” Clyne who did “Judicial Imbalance” and “Fete to Fete”.
Another female artiste Nashanda Charles of the sister isle of Carriacou took the third spot with her two songs, “My Conclusion” and “Wonder Woman” amassing a total of 795 points, while the fourth position was occupied by seven times Calypso Monarch, Findlay “Scholar” Jeffrey (788) with his two songs, “Silence” and “The Man Upstairs”.
The other calypsonians who were selected for the Dimanche Gras show to challenge defending monarch, Edson Mitchell (Ajamu) are Jerry Baptiste (Papa Jerry), Micah Joseph (Baracka), Kelvin Celestine (Otis), Basil Bernard (Signal), and Phelon Blackette (Smallies).
The Spicemas Corporation named two standby artistes for the show -Allan Gaskin (Allan G) and Elimus Gilbert (Inspector).
According to Wizard, the Judges would have gotten seven of the picks right “but some of the others are wrong.”
He identified some of the criteria the judges failed to observe on Semi-finals night.
He said in judging calypso there are two things that must be seen and these are musical and literary.
“In the literary aspect you must be able to have a good background in writing… which I think the judges don’t have. They don’t know to analyse and to synthesize a song, they don’t know how to do that, they don’t understand literary devices and from a musical stand point they don’t understand what a good melody is.
“They might tend to feel the song is a good song because it has a good message, it has something that is virtuous, so they feel automatically it’s a good song, they may have some lines that they like but the song is incoherent.
Wizard made reference to the songs sung by Sour Serpent who unfortunately did not qualify for the August 9 final.
“For instance you have Sour Serpent trying to play on words, that is his trademark, trying to use puns but you don’t use puns for using puns sake. It has to be effectively used – that’s why I think he didn’t go through last night”, he said.
“Then the whole question again of relevance – so you might have a guy singing four verses and you have one verse totally irrelevant to the theme so that was a problem last night (Sunday) too. Even the person who they say is up front, after the first verse and chorus the song has gone nowhere – so no development vertically – the song just remains horizontal”, he added.
Wizard also alluded to the fact that some of the artistes in the semi-finals did not bring new and fresh material before the judges but engaged in old and over-worked themes.
“…The treatment of the themes for instance, you might have overworked themes, I called them platitudes, they’re tired. So there is nothing fresh to how you treat the theme. Nothing wrong with singing on the same theme. If my theme is we must love one another, we must treat it differently so make it fresh – you had too much tired concepts and themes, last night (July 26th),” he remarked.
According to Wizard, one of the setbacks in producing a good calypso in the Spice Isle is the inability of the artistes to develop on a specific theme.
“The potential is there but that understanding of what a good composition is, the ability or the lack of ability … to take advantage of that theme that you have. If you have a good concept, you must drive it home to full advantage and that is what is lacking, not developing the theme to full advantage”, he said.
“…You singing a song for slavery for instance, you must pick your examples as to what is slavery, why do you say we’re living in slavery. You can’t just say any and anything – you have to pick some good examples (to show) people in truth that we are living in slavery.
Wizard singled out Baracka, a first-timer in the finals, who he said “has a lot of potential but again he needs some help to develop his song to full advantage”.
The former monarch also emphasized the need for training of both Calypsonians and judges in order to move the artform forward.