Results at a Glance:
First: Maxwell “Tajoe” Francis
Second: Shernelle ‘Skarpyon’ Williams
Third: Bridgette “Joy-C” Creese
Fourth: Aurella ‘Queen B’ Beache
First: Sion Hill Euphonium Steel Orchestra
Second: Starlift Steel Orchestra
Third: Potential Steel Orchestra
KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — His first rendition — embraced by calypso lovers from the moment it was released — was a very emotive song about “Suzie”, who became addicted to cocaine at age 14.
She “never got her life back on track again” and, by the time she was 20 — when the calypsonian saw her “standing in the rain” — she was prostituting herself to support her drug habit.
The song speaks of Suzie’s mother’s many failed attempts by to wrestle her from the jaws of drug addition and life on the streets.
And in the same manner that he might exhort one of his students, the teacher warned Vincentian youth to take heed, singing, “…we have too many Suzies roaming the street”.
He sang the song in such a powerful and moving way, in a voice so fully of feeling, that one cannot be faulted for wondering if “Memoirs of a Drug Addict,” does not in fact recount the true story of someone close to the calypso bard.
In his second song, “Tell Me If I Am Wrong”, the artiste addressed what he presented as the judges’ seeming unwillingness to award him the calypso crown, notwithstanding his strong social commentaries.
He, however, promised: “I don’t intend to cast no stone/Use the art form to break no bone/ I would bide my time to get a shot at the throne”.
The judges decided at Dimarche Gras that the time for Maxwell “Tajoe” Francis’ first national calypso crown had come. In addition to the crown and a cash prize, Tajoe will receive a trip for two to any LIAT destination.
Tajoe distinguished himself from 10 other bards, including five former monarchs.
He triumphed not only over last year’s monarch, Bridgette “Joy-C” Creese, but rose above Shernelle ‘Skarpyon’ Williams who, notwithstanding his “ballad” voice and his experience in the junior calypso, ragga soca, and soca competitions, had to settle for second place ahead of Joy-C.
When the results of the National Calypso Monarch competition were announced shortly before 4 a.m. Monday, at the end of the six-hour show — that included Senior Panorama and the King and Queen of the Bands, which were postponed from Thursday because of bad weather — not very many persons were surprise that Tajoe had won.
Tajoe’s win shows that he is not relegated to reigning vicariously through the winners that he has produced for the Fancy Government School at the junior calypso competition.
While “Tell Me If I Am Wrong” spoke of his frustration at not winning the crown himself, he made it clear that he would not use his calypsos to “run down anybody and get caught up in the art form, politically.
“Tell them think again my calypsos will remain the same,” he sang.
Tajoe, a teacher at the Fancy Government School, asked if he was wrong to include in his calypsos – traditionally used to reflect social reality – the ills he reads of in the newspaper.
Among these, he mentioned child molestation, increasing instances of HIV/AIDS, gunrunning, and an untoward attitude to education by some youth.
“Calypso fans tell me if I am wrong to mention these in my kaiso song,” he sang, adding that calypso is an avenue to bring the message and every one has a moral obligation to be a part of the solution rather than leaving everything to politicians.
He also sang of young girls prostituting themselves to material end, teenage pregnancy, and the case of the primary school student who committed suicide this year.
“I don’t care if the judge listen to me as long as my message reach SVG,” he sang as he admitted that he was young to the art form, adding, “but that doesn’t mean I cannot perform”.
Skarpyon might have to take his own advice to “Appreciate What We Have”, his first song on Sunday. He and his fans might have to settle for one crown this year — Ragga Soca Monarch 2011, which he won in June.
“Appreciate What We Have” tells the story of a mother who encourages her son to walk the straight and narrow in spite of their limited financial resources and the temptations of the get-rich-fast culture.
The artiste’s “Pan Dream”, expresses his hope for pan to become an integral part of the society: as a tool to fight crime, and as an instrument even in the disco.
Joy-C was a far cry from her best Sunday night or from the Joy-C that won the crown in 2009, when she returned to the stage after four years’ absence, during which she battled cancer.
She retained the monarchy last year, although she had to content with the pain of a gash on her right ankle.
Her song, “Breastfed”, which on the surface might be read as an exhortation to mothers to breastfeed their children, highlights some important issues that St. Vincent and the Grenadines will undoubtedly have to face as the world continues to globalise: same-sex partnerships and households that include children, and surrogacy.
The other competitors Sunday were Aurella ‘Queen B’ Beache — who placed fourth, Elvis ‘Abijah’ Abbey, Javelle ‘Lady Diamond’ Frank, Glenroy ‘Sulle’ Caesar, Kingsley ‘Hero’ Roberts, Michael ‘Lord Have Mercy’ Ollivierre, Elliot ‘Mystery’ Shallow, and Carlos ‘Rejector’ Providence.
Some commentators were displeased about the manner in which Tajoe was crowned, which deviated from the norm of a chair being brought onto the stage to seat the monarch.
Further, he was crowned by first runner-up in the Miss SVG competition, Jamie Delplesche. It was not immediately known why Miss SVG Aviar Charles did not do the crowning.