POND ISLAND–St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) will skip hosting a Senior Calypso Elimination for Carnival 50 and go straight to the Senior Calypso Finals with twelve singers who will challenge reigning Calypso King Ruminni “The Protégé” Rogers for his title. The Calypso Competition is once again branded as the NAGICO Senior Calypso Finals.
SCDF invited all Calypsonians to a meeting held Thursday, to go over all details of the 2019 Calypso Competition and to gauge the participation level. Following the meeting, which was also attended by the reigning Calypso King, it was determined that an elimination round was not necessary. The SCDF will allow the 12 singers to move directly to the finals where they will still perform two songs each, giving Calypso a full night of social commentary.
“There are some very interesting newcomers to the Calypso arena who will be performing in the finals,” SCDF President Alston Lourens said. These newcomers include current Soca Groovy Monarch Kenyo Baly, Ambassa Da Lion, Clara “Lady Rey” Reyes and Elton “Mighty LT” Richardson.
Also competing will be the King’s brother King Rumer and his uncle, known as The Pensioner. Zhaira “Z” Richardson, The Mighty Magic, Man George, Lady Upsetter, Mighty Pepper and Chip Man will round out the challengers to The Protégé.
“We have a full night of social commentary slated for April 22, in Carnival Village. We are eager to hear what the newcomers will bring to the stage and I’m sure the King himself is curious about all these new challengers to his crown,” Lourens said.
“It’s also good to see younger singers step up to try the art form of Calypso especially for the 50th anniversary of Carnival. We also have an initiative to announce soon that regards the revival of Junior Calypso Competition,” Lourens added.
For Carnival’s 50th anniversary SCDF will also be adding some prizes to the regular cash prizes for the winner, second and third runners-up. The foundation announced that the King or Queen will receive a cruise along with a US $10,000 cash prize. The second and third runners-up win $5,000 and $3,500, respectively. Their other prizes will be announced at a later date.
Commenting on the choice by other Calypsonians not to participate this year, Lourens said it is “very, very unfortunate especially for the Golden Anniversary of Carnival when veteran singers are depicted on the official Carnival schedule, in the soon-to-be-released children’s colouring book and so on.”
He explained that the 2019 Easter holidays, like many other Carnival years, has forced SCDF to work with a much shorter schedule. “It’s strictly about the calendar. Almost all stakeholders had to make sacrifices for 2019 because of how Easter falls. We experience this every few years, it’s nothing new to Carnival stakeholders,” Lourens said.
He added that it is not factual that the Calypso show is always held before J’Ouvert. In fact, he explained, whenever the show is scheduled the night before J’Ouvert, it records the smallest crowd out of any Carnival show.
“Last year, we tried it again and it was the least attended Calypso show in five years. There isn’t a single show in Carnival that has a set date to where it will be held. In the past six years, the Calypso show has been staged before J’Ouvert just twice. The only events on the Carnival schedule that have set dates are J’Ouvert and the two Grand Parades. Everything else changes every year. That change is even more extreme when Easter falls late. So as a foundation, we really think it’s unfortunate,” Lourens said.
He also made it clear that to date the foundation has never received an official correspondence or such from any of the Calypsonians that have chosen not to participate. “Everything we know and have heard is through the media, that too is unfortunate,” SCDF’s President said.