So the first (and hopefully only) Covid carnival has ended.
We must applaud the carnival-makers, including the Minister of Culture, for their commitment to staging Vincy Mas 2022. It happened as planned and it was not an easy undertaking. Hard work was put in and satisfactory results were achieved.
Quite a few persons stayed away from the shows at Victoria Park. A cursory assessment suggests that carnival revellers did not flock to the streets of Kingstown on Carnival Monday and Tuesday as they have done for many years past. It seems, however, that the private promoters did quite well. My hope is that this is not the trend of future carnivals.
I seek not to criticize the producers and promoters but to praise them. It was a valiant effort by all concerned. Much more was achieved than I had originally expected.
Those who impressed me
These random thoughts revolve around several of our artistes, particularly some who performed in the calypso and soca competitions. To my mind, there are several outstanding artistes who contributed immensely to the quality of Vincentian music this carnival. I wish to highlight a few of my favourites.
Shaunelle McKenzie was to my mind, the best on stage Calypso Finals night. She has a sweet, yet powerfully clear and distinctive voice. She rendered her Lessons Learnt like no other, except maybe Sheena who was close in this category. Shaunelle’s song was melodious, had nice arrangements (only Brother Ebony’s and Ipa’s songs could compare), and she was in control of the stage. She used the background vocals well and they were present, yet stayed secondary to the monarch up front. I think only G.C. ‘s vocal arrangements were as good or perhaps slightly better – like daughter like father. Finally, her dancers on stage exited and re-entered with well executed choreography and without turning the song into a theatrical presentation. She is one who can fly the SVG flag high at any international calypso or soca event. Well done Shaunelle – Lessons Learnt.
I congratulate the two seasoned men of culture who came out ahead of Shaunelle. To Tajoe and Hero, thank you for keeping traditional kaiso alive. You have both persevered for a long time and this year , you have delivered and have been recognized.
I want to say a special word about Hance and his performance in the Ragga Soca competition. It was superb! It is one of the very best Ragga Soca performances seen or heard on Victoria’s stage. Hance had a great topic. He has a great voice and he sang well. His outfit and his supporting cast and their combined performance were suited for the Bellagio hotel, Las Vegas. Such was the standard.
This is not to take away from Fireman Hooper with his Social Media Police. We have come to expect a particular delivery from “pound- for- pound”, the most popular soca artiste in SVG. It just so happens that Hance suffered from coming on stage in position 12, right after a sterling performance by the man who just happens to be a cult hero in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Without trying to be overly facetious, I believe that there are persons who would have said that Fireman deserved to win, without even having seen Hance’s performance. We however rely on the judges to be perceptive and objective at all times. I can’t help but feel that some persons feed off crowd response in coming up with their final scores.
Grabba Finesse was excellent in the Soca Monarch competition. It was a celebration for the fans of a new style of Vincy soca – with camel bag filled with their favourite beverage. Again, he came up against the Triple X , Mega-Dog. But if a revolution is to have “ de whole place turn over”, I invite Grabba – the music revolutionary to keep on producing while still perched on the edge.
Grabba’s music received a fair amount of play on the streets of Kingstown. This is the type of song that we can send abroad and say – go out and represent Vincy. This is who we are – the soca innovators.
Skarpyon, Kemmie and Wetty Beatz
Praises are to be showered on Skarpyon as well. He came home late for the carnival but the Big Road crept up on us like stealth. A few more weeks and Skarpyon would have been a major force this VincyMas.
Come again next year, Kemmie. We heard the Call. Continue to work with your team to produce good music. Don’t’ switch the recipe, at least, not yet. It is still fresh and dynamic. Wetty Beatz, thank you for making” tings nice agen”. Good music as usual. I love your style and I would love others to emulate you. It is your music style that could take soca international. Here is an idea. Reach out and work with young persons such as Sheena , Omani, Boney Man, Lil Kris and others.
I know that persons who are reading this column will probably ask why I haven’t featured Fireman Hooper and put him up on the throne where he belongs. There is insufficient scope and space here and now to address Fireman, his music and his impact on Vincentian life. I propose to do so at another time.
My focus has been on those persons who exemplify SVG’s best vocal talents and best harmonies and who didn’t quite make it to the very top – this year. I wanted to “big them up”.