KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Vincentian calypsonians are being encouraged to “respect truth” and not to use the art form to abuse other citizens, including politicians.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves made the call Monday as he said he has never and will not ask bard to change their lyrics.
Gonsalves said he was engaged last Friday night and did not miss the Calypso Semi-Finals show because some songs are critical of him.
“There are people who sing things favourable to me, there are people who neutral and there are people who sing against me. That doesn’t worry me because you always have people, the same set of people, sing against me for several years and it doesn’t affect anything at all,” he told a media briefing on Monday.
“All I ask calypsonians, like everybody else to do — and particularly artistes — respect truth. Don’t use calypso as an instrument of verbal abuse against people, politicians or whoever,” Gonsalves said, adding that this was his position while in opposition.
“I would like a witty calypso,” he said as he mentioned Lexi’s “Ease Up Fisherman” and Poorsah’s “Mouth Inna Me Mumma”, classical calypsos that were critical of former prime minister, Sir James Mitchell.
“You are commenting on something but you have humour. Not a political tirade. You don’t make a calypso which is opposition politics in verse. Who [is] going pay to hear that? You make the same speech on a platform or on a roadside corner and you sing it in a calypso it doesn’t make any difference, it’s the same thing,” Gonsalves said.
He said that he has favourites calypsos but didn’t want to identify them.
“But I must tell you I love my old time calypsonians and I must tell you when there are certain things which stay inside of your head, like for instance the one which says ‘George has a town and King has one too. Paul has a lot and an avenue,’” he said as he sang, out of tune, what he purported to be lines from Brother Ebony’s “Nothing At All”.
“You must go and ask any of the other fellas if they know any of the lyrics of the calypsos,” he further said in an apparent reference to opposition politicians.
Gonsalves further said there were “a couple powerful women [calypsonians] too … doing very well”.
Five women were among the 22 semi-finalists and two have advanced to the 11 finals.
“I wasn’t to say one thing about calypso since I am prime minister. I have heard it on the airwaves, seen it on the Internet, that I talked to CDC (Carnival Development Corporation) to tell them they must get this person or that person to change lyrics. I have never done that and I don’t intend to do that.”
He said that in 2003 or 2004 there was a song “where man Age was banging me real hard” and the CDC wanted him to change the lyrics.
Gonsalves said he called CDC chair Dennis Ambrose and said even if Age defamed him he wouldn’t sue the artiste or the CDC.
“And I think Man Age had enough of a recognition as to how I stood up there that the night when he was singing, he said the Comrade has said that while others wanted him to chance the lyric he said no.
“But that doesn’t mean that a man must use calypso as an instrument of defamation and abuse. So let me say, I don’t involved in any of that sort of a thing. People judge other people often by themselves,” Gonsalves said.