St. David calypsonian, Sean “Sour Serpent” Niles has won the 2019 Independence Calypso Competition at the Sauteurs Bus Terminus last Saturday night, to add to his victories in 2013 and 2014.
Sour Serpent took the title from 15 other Calypsonians but the field did not include the 2018 winner, Kelly “Rootsman Kelly” Clyne as he had announced since last year that he would not be a part of the 2019 competition.
The new monarch ran ahead of the others with his rendition of “A new portrait”, which he told THE NEW TODAY newspaper in an interview on Sunday “surrounds our nation as it stands now but it has been heading down that road for the longest time.”
He said, “I do believe that initially when the founders of the nation were in their heyday, the idea for Grenada was a really, really wonderful one. Along the way that original portrait, that original blue print if I may say that, kinda wear out and something new came into being”.
According to Sour Serpent, the island appeared to have gotten “a new face” along the way but contended in the song that “we need to go back to the original face that we had with love and vitality and respect for fellow man and that sort of thing”.
“…I just played on the painting situation that happens every independence, where people go out and paint the walls and paint whatever it is but there are lots of things left a begging like civic awareness and so on, people throwing garbage each and everywhere, every time they get the chance out of vehicles”, he said.
“We, including me just do all sorts of things and we still claim to be patriots, so if you really want to be a patriot, we need to paint the right picture, not just with the paints but with our actions, with our words”, he added.
Sour Serpent appeared not undaunted with the victory on Saturday night given the number of times that he has lost in calypso competitions over the past decade.
He described it as an “okay feeling” hearing his name called last as the winner but he is never excited about the results of any competition.
“I haven’t been excited about any results or anything. All I do is that I go on stage and perform the best that I can – the results for me is not very important anymore, it used to be but it’s not very important anymore…”, he told this newspaper.
“…I have been in this calypso business officially for the last 14 or 15 years and haven’t done so badly but calypso is noted to be a very subjected area but even if it’s subjected, I think people need to be objective and calypso is a competition and there are some specific rules as it relates to any sort of composition.
He went on: “I do believe that we have lost a lot of the reputable adjudicators in the artform across the board and much is left to be desired. So, for me, if I hear my name called last, meaning I come first, I am not excited, if it calls first, meaning I come last, I am still not excited, it’s normal feeling for me. I have trained myself that way because trust (me) I have had some very big surprises for the last couple years”.
Sour Serpent gave assurances that he intends to be in the calypso arena for a very long time.
He said: “For me, I love calypso, I am a calypso jumbie. You asked why I keep coming back, I ain’t going nowhere, you will always get calypsoes from me, be it under the cocoa, be it independence.
There are so many things to be said, Calypso comes to me naturally, it’s a second nature. If I am not doing calypso, I don’t know what else I can do. I played sports, I played cricket, I played basketball, I fish, I hunt but trust me, Kaiso is in the blood, I am a calypso jumbie.
“If I have a choice between any other thing and calypso, I can’t help it. I would never say that I would never compete again because I would be short changing myself but it’s not that I am coming back, I am not going anywhere,” he remarked.
Sour Serpent would like to see more quality music being showcased in the independence competition, as he deemed last Saturday’s competition as “not of the highest level”.
“I believe that that artform hinges on creativity or else because we would have a lot of mundane contributions and monotonous songs because if you are (not) creative, if you’re going to compose a song about independence, you would end up saying the same things; the nutmeg, the spices, them nice people, we friendly.
“Even if you’re going to infuse a little of that in your song, you have to be very creative and not sound like something you did before or somebody else did before. It’s difficult…writing a good independence calypso is difficult because it is one general theme that sits there but it is one country that we are singing about.
“I do believe that the compositions this year could have been much better. My main observation was how difficult (it was for) persons to stick to their topic. There were a few persons in the competition that started singing about one thing and end up singing about 25 other different areas. We had Messenger – I liked Messenger song, I think she is a great performer, real poised…I wish
I had her poise. I think she had a great contribution,” he stated.
The second spot in the competition went to Teddy “Top Cat” Christopher, third was Germaine “Superstar” Simon, fourth was Micah “Baracka” Joseph, while the 5th place was taken by Georgia “Messenger” McIntyre.
Sour Serpent walked away with the top prize of $8000.00, with the second place winner getting $6000, and the artise finishing third going home with $4000, while the remaining finalists received $1500.00 each.