Patches – Judges brave, bold for placing him 2nd
July 9, 2010
Patches – Judges brave, bold for placing him 2nd

by Kenton X. Chance

Calypsonian Robert “Patches” Knights believes the judges will have to give an explanation for placing him second in this year’s national calypso competition.{{more}}

The artiste is not displeased.

He is commending the judges for being so “brave and bold” as to put him second in the competition, his highest placing so far.

Patches told SEARCHLIGHT late Sunday night that his song “The Predator” has “political overtones” and he felt that the judges were under pressure to not place him any higher than second.

But chief judge Clive Bishop said Patches has always been a strong contender for the prize, but Sunday night captured “a lot of the magic” of the finals.

Patches spoke in an interview shortly after Bridgette “Joy-C” Creese was crowned National Calypso Monarch for a second consecutive year. Kenneth “The Vibrating Scakes” Alleyne placed third among the 11 bards vying for the crown.

Patches congratulated the other winners, even as he commended the judges for being “that brave and bold” to think he deserved second place.

“Because they themselves are going to have to face the wrath of people in this community who don’t like songs like what I sang in the first round anymore,” Patches told SEARCHLIGHT.

A seven-member panel comprising Eustace Maloney, Kenelm Beache, Jennifer Glasgow-Browne, Earl Paynter, Clive Bishop, Alfred Peters, and Roddy Dowers judged the finals of the national calypso competition at Victoria Park.

Patches felt that the judges were “under pressure” from and would have to justify themselves to “people in the society who are biased” and do not want calyposonians to sing about things which “are not right in many circles”.

Patches also sang “Wey the Good People Gone”, a composition that spoke of the weakening of some elements of the social fabric, including honesty, trust and true friendship.

His song “Predator” was about a high-ranking man who preyed on young girls, even as he was absolved from police investigation and prosecution. “You know who to blame/And everybody knows his name,” Patches sang.

Patches believes that that song eliminated any chance he had of clinching the crown.

“People could have sung anything and won. But it is not like that anymore,” he said.

He said there was “a lot of bias and funny thinking” and “people don’t want to be honest with themselves”.

He said while calypso has always been critical of establishment and things that people feel should not be as they are, “people are critical when you sing that way”.

But Bishop, who was the chief judge of the competition, told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday that judges have “a sort of professional responsibility” to adjudicate “objectively”.

He did not believe judges go to the competition with “grudge or animosity or even any pressure, political or otherwise, to not pick or to pick someone.”

He said he would not judge if that were the case and was confident that the other adjudicators would do the same.

Bishop said judges’ only allegiance is to the art form, the Calypsonians’ Association and to the artistes.

He said judges use a ranking system developed by the University of the West Indies, which “removes the most biases from the judging system”.

The judges look at lyrics – 30 points; melody – 30 points; rendition – 20 points; presentation – 30 points; and, originality – 10 points.

He said judges do not collude or collaborate and do not know how another judge scored a performer.

“The system is not really giving you results based on points per se,” he said, adding that the highest and lowest scores are removed then averages calculated.

Bishop said while Patches has consistently been among the top performers, “this year he had a spark that he did not have in several years in the final.”

In the five calypso seasons ending 2009, Patches made the finals in 2008, when he did not place among the top three, and in 2009, when he placed fifth in a three-way tie.

Bishop further said “calypso is also a mystical thing” and bards have to “capture the magic of the night” of the finals.

“Patches captured a lot of the magic and that’s what propelled him to that position,” he said.

He said while people always inquire about the judges’ decisions, they should not place themselves in the position of the judges.

“The judges have to have a different mindset and a different focus when they get to the park. … I personally think we did a very good job this year,” he said.

He congratulated this year’s top five calyposonians, saying, they “are in a class by themselves.

“There is no difference between the first five really. Just means that some people shine a little more at some times than others.”