SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND-FESTIVAL VILLAGE) – The St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) drew the largest calypso crowd in five years on Monday night, April 22, for the Nagico Senior Calypso Finals. An estimated 1,800 people filed into Carnival Village to hear social commentary through Calypso and watched as Zhaira “Empress Zee” Richardson won the calypso crown and became only the second woman to win the crown in the history of St. Maarten Calypso.
She beat out the reigning Monarch Ruminni “The Protégé” Rogers, who was defending his second calypso crown. Rogers took home second place honors while Desmond “Man George” George took home third place honors.
While the size of the crowd might have caught some people off-guard due to the boycott of the Calypso show implemented by many calypsonians, the SCDF said it had no doubt. “It is the 50th Anniversary of Carnival. Everyone was looking forward for this for at least two years. Nobody was going to let the date of a show keep them from enjoying what they love. And on Monday night that love was for calypso and the night before that it was the Youth Extravaganza. The crowd was bigger than when the show is placed before Jouvert,” SCDF President Alston Lourens said.
He extended congratulations to the new calypso Monarch and said the SCDF looks forward to working with her in the near future in the promotion of Calypso. He also extended congratulations to Rogers whom he described as an “honorable King” honored his title and status in the way he graciously accepted defeat.
“We are looking forward to working with Ruminni and his Protégé Project which aims to re-vive the Junior Calypso Competition by going into the elementary schools and getting them involved. We are really excited about that. But right now we have a new Queen and we are very, very proud of Empress Zee. She will represent SCDF and Calypso well,” Lourens said.
Empress Zee won the title on the heels of her tune entitled ‘Calypso Here to Stay” in which she criticized both the SCDF and the calypsonians who chose to boycott the competition. Rogers also had a similar song called “A Calypsonian” in which he told the boycotting calypsonians that their move does not translate to a stand for Calypso.