“I am very, very thankful”.
Those were the words uttered by the nation’s most controversial calypsonian, Finley Jeffrey known as “Scholar” when he captured the 2018 Calypso Monarch title, bringing his number of crowns to nine in total and placing him alongside the legendary, Edson “Ajamu” Mitchell.
With his songs, “Walk on Water” and “Pum Pum”, Scholar amassed a total of 531 points to take the crown by one point ahead of Micah “Baracka” Joseph who finished in second place with 530 in the National Calypso competition held Sunday night at the National Stadium at Queen’s Park in St. George.
As the newly appointed Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Scholar came in for severe criticism over “Pum Pum”.
After the results were announced, Scholar dubbed the season as his toughest yet in 25 years in the business.
“It is first time I have done a song really that is being so debated, so discussed and when this happens, you know that you have written a good song. It took us back to the 1980’s when songs were discussed and a lot of people are of the opinion that this is the best song that I have every sung in my life in terms of how it is crafted, in terms of the writing, in terms of the lyrics, in terms of the melody of the song, I mean in terms of the originality”, he said.
“There is no fault (in the song) and you know it was just up to me to deliver and the thing about it is that from the preliminaries, right up to the finals, the lead that I had kept thinning out, so maybe if we had a next Dimanche Gras I would lose. I am just happy, especially in light of the fact that I have lost five crowns before by one point…”, he added.
According to scholar, “it has been a long night, long season, especially with the work that I do now, I am pretty much sure that I can’t continue to do this”.
“With the work that I do now (Permanent Secretary) which is really a demanding work, go early and come back nights and everybody even in the work place wondering … as to how I got time to write these songs, to perform when I have to perform…”, he said.
“(It’s the hardest) season I’ve ever had in my life,” he told reporters after receiving his ninth crown.
Scholar hinted that 2018 could be his last year in competition.
“…It just may possibly be. I can’t see myself back in this, I mean this is too rough. Once I remain in the job that I do, it will be very, very difficult, I would have to really dig deep, very deep and then on top of that, I am the leader of the Kaiso Bards tent, so it was a really a heavy, heavy work load,” he remarked.
The third place winner on Sunday night was Sean “Sour Serpent” Niles who snag, “County First” and “Microcephaly” which landed him 511 points, four more than Sheldon Douglas (507) who came in 4th with his songs, “The Final Toast” and “Feeling Good”.
Defending monarch, Kelly “Rootsman Kelly” Clyne had to settle for 5th position with his renditions, “The CCJ” and “Armour of Love” which brought him 497 points, followed in 6th place by Keturah George (485) who sang, “The Scourge” and “Get Out”.
In 7th position was Georgina “The Messenger” McIntyre (478) with her renditions of “Dual Citizenship” and “That’s a Brother” while veteran calypsonian, Elwin “Black Wizard” McQuilken occupied the 8th position with his songs “Whinning Diplomacy” and “Ah Doh Care” which amassed 476 points, and Jerry “Papa Jerry” Baptiste who did “Calypso Cry” and “Total Destruction” came behind him with 470 points the same as Jason “Big J” Joseph with his songs “Anthem” and “Hang Them”.
The final position went to Gorden “Innocent” Joseph with his songs “Things will only get worst” and “Beat me” which secured only 442 points on the big night.
Scholar believes that the season had a mixture of both good and medicore songs.
He said, “You had some songs that were good that were left in the tent and when I listened to some of the offerings here tonight, you know I wondered, how did these songs get left in the tent and these were here. So, when you come to the finals, sometimes it is not a clear indication of what we had for the season. I think we had some good songs for the season, some never made into the semifinal”.
According to Scholar, he is hopeful that the calypso arena can attract more of the young and upcoming artistes who are concentrating on social music so that it can give more teeth and meaning to the call made by Baracka in his song, “Come Over”.
He said: “I think with young people like Baracka who is the face of Calypso, the future of Calypso really – it’s not me, it’s not Ajamu, it’s not anyone of those guys, the thing is changing and Baracka has stepped up. Well, he made a call for his other soca brethrens to come on through.
“I think that Boyzie and Dash and so on will be good additions to the Kaiso because they have the fundamentals and they can perform which is what Baracka can do and so they should be able to make the transition quite easily” he added.
On the performance on those calypsonians in his tent, Scholar said that they all gave a good account of themselves as he singled out “Sour Serpent”, who placed third and eighth place winner “Black Wizard” who was making a comeback after staying away from competition for a number of years.
“We have seen improvements – Sour Serpent as usual. He is a usual commodity, a staple now in Dimanche Gras. It was interesting (to see Black Wizard back in competition), you could see there was ring rust, you could tell. When you stay out for very long, there is always ring rust and Wizard was kinda rusty tonight but if he keeps on, give him by next year and he would be on the top of his game because once you’re doing this thing, you don’t forget it for long. I just simply want to say to all of the Bards, keep going, Calypso is not a dying art, it is the most important of all the artforms,” he said.
Baracka who was one of the favourites going into the competition told reporters that placing second and being the people’s favourite was definitely a good feeling for him.
He said: “It’s always better that I come second and people say that I should win, than I win a crown and people say that I shouldn’t win, you understand. So at least I feel good, I came in second, I came out I did my work. Scholar is a legend, he has been there in the business for a long time. He did what he had to do, the judges’ decision is final and I accept it and I accept second place”.
Baracka stated that his eyes are not on the crown but that he is more focused on creating good music.
“It’s not really about the crown, you know. It’s just making sure you get the good music across, making sure people understand where you coming from and just doing positive music and getting the music unto the world – if ever a crown comes, well it comes. This the closest I have ever been, I came third already and now I come second, so it’s just one more step I have to go,” he said.