Last year, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves loved calypsonian Fitzroy “Brother Ebony” Joseph’s “Nothing At All” so much that he sang out-of-tune for journalists at a press conference a few lines from the song.
But this year, he told a press conference on June 24 that he had not had a chance to hear many of this year’s renditions.
Gonsalves was out for state on official business several times during the calypso season, including when the semi-finals were held on June 21.
Asked, light-heartedly, if he had had a chance to hear this year’s offerings and if there were any of which he is particularly fond, the Prime Minister said, “I haven’t had a chance.”
But he said he has been told about some of the songs.
“I understand that ‘Joy-C’ has a very good song about reparations and I think she has one about LIAT and CAL,” he said of former monarch, Bridgette Creese, who checked out of hospital three days after she suffered a stroke to sing during the semis her song about tensions between the two airlines.
The Prime Minister also said he had heard about one of the song by defending ragga soca and calypso monarch, Lornette “Fya Empress” Nedd-Reid.
“Somebody told me about a song — name dutty — but the fella didn’t get in the semi-finals,” he said in reference to Errol “De Man Age” Rose’s “Dirty Character”.
“I don’t know if there is a connection that if you go out your way to attack the comrade that yo’ … buss,” he said, breaking out in laughter and using the colloquial expression for when a person mixes up or forgets the lyrics of a song during a performance.
“I have heard snippets and so on,” Gonsalves further said of this year’s calypsos, adding that the Semi-Finals is his favourite carnival show.
He also mentioned among this year’s song, one about “some red man from the country putting pressure on we, or something like that.
“I think it is a fella who traditionally sing anti-Ralph songs,” he further said of Paul “I Madd” Scrubb’s “Jumbie Sqeezing We”.
“Now, you can take that anywhere. I take that in a light-hearted manner. But you could have found other ways to do it a little more creatively,” Gonsalves said.
But he spoke out against bards who use the art form to attack people.
“… Even when I was in opposition, I never liked calypsos, whether the tent or anywhere, that I get [a sense] that somebody just goes out of the way to abuse a politician, verbally abuse them or some other individual,” Gonsalves said.
“… Why should anybody pay to hear political cussing in a calypso?” he further stated.
He added that he found “funny” Quintin “Mighty Toiler” Toby’s “Nancy” and Alexis “Lexi” Joseph’s “Ease Up Fisherman”, commentaries on former prime minister, Sir James Mitchell, and Cornelius “Poorsah” Williams’ “Mouth In me Mumma”, a commentary on former attorney general, Parnell R. Campbell.
But Gonsalves added that when Sir James and Campbell, members of the former New Democratic Party government, were being attacked “in very awful ways”, he thought that the art form ought to be used “more intelligently”.
But he said calypsonians have “a certain amount of poetic licences that is tolerated by all concerned.
“But poetic licences must not degenerate into abuse. There are ways in which you can make subtle commentaries; you can do other things,” the Prime Minister said.
“Essentially, what I am saying, you shouldn’t have just a political cuss out speech and put it to verse. It doesn’t get the politician anywhere.
“Momentarily, one side or the other may love it. If they cuss me like that, NICE Radio would play it. If they were to cuss Arnhim in that way, I would be very disappointed if Star would give such a song a lot of airing,” Gonsalves further stated.
The National Calypso Monarch Finals are slated for Sunday, July 7, at Victoria Park.
Fya Empress is the defencing champion and the other contenders for the crown, the prize money and a car, are: Shernelle “Skarpyon” Williams, Javelle “Lady Diya” Frank, John Dougan, Shaunelle Mc Kenzie, Glenroy “Homey” Delpesche, Glen “Bump I” Richards, Glenford “Azarah” Charles, Dennis Bowman, Carlos “Chang I” Morgan, and Grantley “Ipa” Constance.