Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Kaiso 365: 2013 Calypso Monarch Finals Recap

This past Sunday July 28th, I attended Kaiso 365 Calypso Monarch Finals presented by the Organization of Calypso Performing Artistes (OCPA). Held at the Chinese Cultural Centre, the event began promptly at 5pm. The event commenced with a warm welcome given by Master of Ceremonies, Itah Sadu, and the singing of the National Athem, by Ossie Gurely & The Truth. Opening remarks by Itah provided the audience with a brief overview of the Kaiso 365 Calypso Monarch competition, judging categories, point allotment and rules. In total, the nine finalists that were competing for the 2013 Calypso Monarch Title included Dennis James, PanMan Pat, Structure, Spivey, King Cosmos, Dynasty, Connector and Redman. Also among the finalist, was the reigning 2012 Calypso Monarch Macomere Fefe. 

The calypso monarch competition encompassed each finalist perform two original songs.  Referencing the historical roots of calypso, it is a genre of music that tells a story, conveys social commentary, highlights local issues and communities and/or adds a comedic twist to everyday situations. Many of the finalists’ song selections did the aforementioned, with musical renditions that highlighted issues such as violence, poverty, respect for elders, and scandal within government. On the other side of the spectrum, some of the musical renditions told stories that were humorous and celebratory in nature and reflected topics of relationships, obeha and carnival.  

Once the first half of the competition was complete, there was a short intermission and the audience was encouraged to check out the information booths of the event sponsors and partners. The audience was also informed food and drink was available upstairs to be purchased from local vendors such as Drupati’s Caribbean Restaurant. 

Subsequent to the intermission, the second half of the show followed with each of the finalists performing their second song selection. Prior the last performances, an overview of the prizes the finalists were competing for were announced. Prizes included, the winner of the 2013 Calypso Monarch Competition would be awarded the grand prize of $5,000, followed by $2,500 for the 1st runner up, $1,500 for the 2nd runner up and $1,000 for the 4th runner up. Additional sponsored prizes such as a trip to perform internationally would were also announced and said to be awarded to the recipient at a later date. 

While waiting for the results of the evening competition to be tabulated, the audience was treated to several live performances. Dance Caribe showcased a superb performance with an Afro-Caribbean dance routine that brought a fresh element the performances of the evening.  In addition, the live band and background accompaniment were exceptional when performing with the finalists as well as during their performances with International Calypso artistes, Sheldon Skeete and Scotty .  Complimentary giveaways and prizes were also drawn for the audience members, with prizes including two roundtrip tickets to any island of choice in the Caribbean courtesy of Caribbean Airline and also gift baskets from sponsors such as Carib beer.

Apart from the wonderful entertainment, another aspect of Kaiso 365 Calypso Monarch Competition that I really appreciated was the effort that was put towards ensuring the audience was informed about Emancipation day and its association with carnival. Historically, Emancipation Day is celebrated in many former British colonies in the Caribbean and areas of the United States on various dates in observance of the emancipation of slaves of African origin. Being that the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 ended slavery in the British Empire on August 1, 1834, Emancipation day is often recognized and celebrated during carnival, in countries that hold their festival within August. This year, Itah announced that to welcome in the Emancipation Day and to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Underground Railroad, on Wednesday July 31st they would be meeting at Union Station at 11:15pm and taking the 11:35 train from Union to Downsview Station. All are welcome to attend!

With the evening drawing to an end, the OCPA committee stood on stage to announce the results and present the awards. Macomere Fifi, was crowned the 2013 Calypso Monarch, as well as the recipient of several special awards categories including: Best Lyrics, Best Melody, Best Presentation (for her song Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), Best Vocal Rendition, Most Original Calypso, Best Composition on a Local Topic, Most Humorous Calypso, Best Arrangement and People's Choice. The unofficial results of the competition included:
  1. Macomere Fifi
  2. Structure
  3. King Cosmos
  4. PanMan Pat
  5. Dennis James
  6. Connector
  7. Dynasty
  8. Spivey
  9. Redman
I thoroughly enjoyed myself at the Kaiso 365 Calypso Monarch Competition, especially being that it was my first time attending. I would like to extend congratulations to Macomere Fifi, all the finalists, the OCPA committee and volunteers for their contributions to an exceptional event. 

Stay tuned... An album of pictures from the Calypso Monarch Competition will be added to our facebook page soon!