Calypso veterans Elwin Mc Quilkin (Black Wizard) and Findley Jeffery known as “Scholar” have vowed to stay away from the 2015 National Calypso Monarch competition labeling the event as one that has become farcical in terms of judging.
The two artistes held exclusive interviews with THE NEW TODAY newspaper to make their announcements and Scholar in particular raised another issue – the recent reappointment of Isha Antoine as the representative of calypsonians on the Spicemas Corporation Board.
The two calypsonians told this newspaper that they are taking serious issue with the way persons are being selected to sit on the Judge’s panel and cited last year as the worst.
Scholar claimed that the “five judges from last year’s event were judging (a final) for the first time in their life.”
The seven time Calypso King expressed the belief that “the way judges are selected” in recent years “is a purposeful thing…” noting that the “person who was the chief judge at last year’s event was only experiencing his second year of judging”.
“This is unheard off…this is nonsense,” said the secondary school teacher.
Scholar who has already released one song for the year entitled, “Poor and vulnerable” spoke of having fears about the direction the art form is taking.
“I am scared for Calypso”, Scholar said, adding, “I really do not know, this calypso thing is so tainted, sometimes it’s hard to go into it knowing for a fact that the depth is heavily stacked against you…it has been so for the last few years and I have gone into competition knowing deep in my heart that no matter what I do, I would not win anything…every thing is set the way in which judges are being picked leaves so much to be desired,” he remarked.
Additionally, Scholar told THE NEW TODAY that he would not consider participating in the 2015 Calypso competition if Isha Antoine’s appointment continues as the representative of the Grenada Professional Association of Calypsonians and Tents (GPAC).
Meanwhile, Wizard said he does not “believe in participating in anything that is farcical.”
“You just can’t put people (to judge) that don’t know anything about judging Calypso and put them as a judge …I take my calypso very seriously. I write serious lyrics, music…” the Black Wizard said, while stating that throughout the years there has always been a general problem with the judges selected.
The former monarch, road march and soca monarch winner expressed the view that the authorities “reached their lowest ebb” in selecting the judges to preside over the 2014 Dimanche Gras show.
“I think last year was the worst…just imagine people that never judge a competition before but they judging Dimanche Gras. So I don’t want to support that and I would never participate in that kind of comedy,” Wizard said.
The calypsonian who has been singing for more that four decades stressed that the poor selection of judges for the national event is a burning one, which has not been very motivational to him.
He added that this year he is “not into the commercial aspect of the calypso” and will be staying away from competition.
However, he expressed the desire to sing and have fun entertaining his fans with his Kaiso Bards Calypso tent which is scheduled to open its season in the second week of July at a venue in Grenville, St. Andrew.
“I just want to sing and have fun…and let people enjoy themselves in the Calypso tent…it doesn’t make sense to participate in that competition (Calypso Monarch),” Wizard told THE NEW TODAY.
On another note, the Spicemas Corporation’s (SMC’s) launch of Spicemas’ 2015, on May 30 at the Roy St. John Playing Field at Tanteen is being heavily criticised on social media, which according to Scholar is a clear indication that “it (the 2015 launch) was close to a disaster.”
Though he did not attend, the former monarch said the Spicemas theme, “It’s Majestic, It’s Authentic, It’s Splendor, It’s We Mas; SPICEMAS,” focused specifically on the fancy mas’ aspect of Carnival, promising a “display of Traditional Mas, Fancy Mas, Pan, 2015 soca hits and much, much more.”
However, Scholar said, there seemed to be very “poor representation” in this regard as well as in the traditional mas’ category.
“From all accounts people seemed to have been really disappointed with it,” he added.
Wizard, who did not attend the launch as well, attributed his reason for not doing so to a lack of preparation which was a continuation of the turn of events that took place last year.
“So I knew definitely that it was going to be a failure so I didn’t bother to go…” he said.
Both calypsonians are members of the “Kaiso Bards” calypso tent and said they will be singing with the outfit as usual.
Scholar, recalled the fight with previous Carnival associations for subventions to be granted to Calypso Tents, pointing out that the amounts received these days are hardly enough.
“Now more than ever this subvention is applicable because taking most of the money…and that’s why a lot of tents could only host one show,” he told THE NEW TODAY.
He added that “when the subventions come late (from government) the bands don’t want to practice…so it’s really an uphill tasks for the tents.”
Scholar also expressed the view that “subventions should be granted as early as May so that tents could get themselves together, pointing out that “subventions are usually granted in July and sometimes you have to make noise before you get it.”
“Those things do not augur well, Scholar said, “for the festival to improve” and to grow as a major national cultural event.
He went on to say: “You have to put money into it and you have to be serious about it and they (government) are not serious about this whole thing so they keep tom-fooling people about the subvention.”
“In 2007 tents were receiving as much as $50, 000 in subventions now they pay subvention by tents and you get $9, 000…I have seen how the tents are suffering, how tent leaders are finding it hard to make ends meet. Let us forget this tent thing and let us treat calypso like we do soca monarch,” Scholar said.