KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent: – Bridgette “Joy C” Creese took a four-year break from calypso to battle stomach cancer then bounced back and won the national competition Sunday night on her first attempt since the hiatus.
The four-time Queen of Calypso and former national calypso monarch was the sole female among the 11 finalists in the competition, which included four other former national monarchs.
She drew on her experience fighting the disease to craft the masterful song “Master Card”, in which she compared life to a hand dealt in a card game.
Her song sent an unequivocal message that when greeted with the news that one has a “dreadful disease” it is inner faith rather than anger and depression that will ultimately lead to a “bounce back”.
She said that in such a situation, the individual must rise above all circumstances even as the song noted that no one knows what his or her situation would be and that “sickness knocks on every door”.
In the last rendition of the chorus, Joy C personalized the song and sang, “That is why I bounce back … so let me play the cards the master placed in my hand”.
In the second round of the competition, Joy C sang “A Taste of Freedom”, a composition that lauded Cuba’s achievements in education, agriculture, and medicine, adding “but the sweet taste of freedom is absent from your land”.
She told the government of the western hemisphere’s only communist nation that “it is not too late to change your course” even as she flew the Cuban flag at half mast in tribute to prisoners of conscience in that country.
“It feels wonderful [knowing] that I have been out for four years out of the competition,” Joy C told I Witness-News shortly after she was crowned.
She said while she would not say that she was fully recovered she felt “99 percent good”.
She said plans sing calypso “until the most high says no more”.
“I always have a message for the people,” she said in the interview.
Joy C scored 787 points, 27 points more than her closest contender, Alvin “Zion-I” Dennie, whose song was a response to what he said were fan’s questions about what he was going to sing this year.
The song, “Sing Leh we Hear”, swiped at Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and his Unity Labour Party administration.
It mentioned the rape accusation against Dr Gonsalves earlier this year, police brutality, an unelected governmentofficials “who have the biggest [position]”, and a one-man funeral.
The song ended with a mock arrest, during which two actors, dressed as police officers from the Rapid Response Unit, commonly called the “Black Squad”, accosted the calypsonian, slapped him and told him to sing about that, before taking him offstage.
The dramatization was of a situation last year in which calypsonians Grantley “I-Pa” Constance said a member of the Black Squad had slapped him and told him to write a calypso about that.
In his second song, “Bad John Calypso”, Zion I, dressed like a prisoner with a handcuff dangling from one wrist, sang a witty calypso in which he said if he did not win the competition people would have to go to the emergency room for treatment.
He said we was also going to close down the post office and turn it into a brothel and bring his “friend from Iran” to rig the next general elections.
Carlos “Rejector” Providence took the third spot with his songs “When Yo Roam” and “Take Back De Slum”.
In these renditions, he said that Vincentians only truly appreciate their country after they go overseas. He also called for the rescuing of Paul’s Avenue from all the negativity that has overtaken the Kingstown community over the past decades.
The artistes used their songs to address other socio-economic and socio-political issues. They sang of the amount of money that Vincentians spend on cellular phone cards, irresponsible speech, hypocrisy as a result of political persuasion, an apparent lack of beds at the country’s main hospital, and finding a way to make Dr. Gonsalves’ “together now” mantra more than an empty phrase.
One calypsonians even paid “tribute” to U.S. President Barack Obama, a veritable wish list of what he could do for the Caribbean, Africa and other groups of people across the globe.
See photos of all the calypso finalists here.