A local calypso writer says that Vincentians should not fuss about Calypso Monarch Lornette “Fya Empress” Nedd having sung before in Trinidad the two songs that won her the crown in Kingstown Sunday night.

“There is no rule against the girl entering a song that she sang in Trinidad,” Carl Williams, who is also a lawyer and prosecutor told iWitness News on Thursday.

Williams, who writes for Kingsley “Hero” Roberts, who was eliminated at the preliminary stage this year, said that he does not think there should be rule barring a calypsonian from entering a song sung in a competition in another country.

“Why should there be such a rule? If a man had a song ten years ago and he never entered it in a contest within [the jurisdiction], he should be able to sing it,” Williams said.

He said that Vincentians should instead worry about whether the standard at home has sunken so low that a song that placed 15th among the 17 finalists in the national calypso monarch competition in Trinidad and Tobago can help win the crown in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

During Sunday’s finals, Fya Empress, a born Vincentian who has been living in Trinidad and Tobago for years, sang “Guilty”, the song that took her to the finals in Port of Spain in 2017 as well as “Hope is Alive”.

She had sung “Hope is Alive” as “Hold on T&T” in 2015, and during Sunday night’s finals, she made some changes, including substituted “Trinbago” with “St. Vincent” and “T&T” with “SVG”.

“If it was sung in 2015 in a competition in St. Vincent, I don’t think that she should be allowed to sing it again. But, that song was entered in a contest in Trinidad, not in St. Vincent,” Williams told iWitness News.

“Skinny Fabulous and them does be singing soca. They would sing a song this year bring it out for ST. Vincent carnival and still use it in Trinidad the next year when Trinidad carnival comes up. So nothing is wrong with that.

“The girl win the contest and the problem now is that she sing this song already,” Williams said of Fya Empress who has won the crown before in St. Vincent.

“She didn’t sing it in any contest here (in SVG). I would have had a problem with that if she had sung the song already and then decide a few years after to enter it in one of the same contests. That was a contest in Trinidad. I don’t see that having anything to do with St. Vincent,” Williams told iWitness News.

Carl Williams, a lawyer by training, is also a calypso writer. (IWN file photo)

He said that notwithstanding his view, a lot of questions have to be asked about the calypso competition.

“Is it that Fya Empress was extra hard or there is a significant fall in the standard? Because if she could have placed some 15th in Trinidad and win here, now we have to ask serious questions as to whether our standard is so low.”

Williams said he believes some of the better songs were eliminated during the preliminary stage.

Among the artistes who he said should not have been eliminated were Lance Trotman, Hero, and Rejector.

“All those are songs for Finals, not just for Preliminary and Semis. Them are Finals songs that were rejected at the first stage.”

He said there needs to be people who know about calypso judging the competition.

“You could play a song that was sung 40 years ago and none of them judges will know it.”

Williams said that he would not say that Sunday night’s results reflected the performance of each artiste.

“Zangie and them have to sing their own melody and stop recycle lyrics,” he said of Zamfir “Man Zangie” Adams, who Fya Empress foiled in his bid for a fourth consecutive crown.

“Zangie and them singing people melody; melodies that were sung before by other people and a lot of the calypsonians are doing that.

“I hear a song this year from Parry, but he singing the same melody like the year before and the year before last year.”

President of the Calypsonians Association, Earl “Cabba” Bennette. (iWN file photo)

Meanwhile, President of the Calypsonians Association, Earl “Cabba” Bennett, told iWitness News separately on Thursday that he would like to consult his executive first so as to not speak “out of turn” on the matter.

He further told iWitness News that the National Calypso Monarch is a competition organised by the Carnival Development Corporation.

“CDC has control over the finals.”

He said he would get back to iWitness News on whether he thinks that an artiste should be allowed to sing in the competition a song that they had sung elsewhere, and, in this case, two years earlier.

“I am the president and I have an executive and when I speak, I would speak collectively. I don’t want my position to go awry to what the executive might say. When I have a position, it should be a position that reflects what the executive says.

“I don’t want to have an opinion and you ask another member and he has another opinion. I think we should have an executive position on this matter,” Bennett told iWitness News.

iWitness News was unsuccessful in repeated attempts on Thursday to reach Ashford Wood, chief executive officer of the CDC for comment.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Intelligent comments from Carl Williams. Yes, we are at the bottom in so many areas — including the whole Carnival phenomenon — that it isn’t funny.

    • Well said Mr Williams. I think we use too much of our time dragging people to the ground. Instead we should channel our energies to emphasize the need for a calypso writing school that would raise the standard of the calypso. It is about time we make this our focus.

  2. Carl Williams, we go way back and you have heard me say in our discussions that our standard has deteriorated over the years and its people who are knowledgeable of Calypso who should be sitting in the judges chairs. However some of the persons who know Calypso will never accept to being on any judging panel because of the ridicule which emanates from Calypsonians after the results come out. I remember a Calypsonian went by the late Pat Prescod’s residence on Higginson Street armed with a cutlass after the show because he did not place.in any of the top positions..Prescod was a judge in that competition.and refused to be a judge after that episode.If anyone gets to go backstage during competitions they will feel the tension among the Calypsonians and dont talk about the abuse of officials which comes out after the results are announced.. Ask former President Anne Miller what she had to endure a few years ago from a female finalist after the results.The fact is that the aim of each Artiste is to win and much thought is not put into producing good songs (obviously the aim is to win) however the audience is left to consume mediocrity at any cost. Then there are some Artistes who seem to have a title Deed that gives them automatic selection regardless to whether they sing/talk/mumble/shout/scream lyrics which on many occasions are just confusing. There is no Rule which denies any artiste from singing a song previously performed in another competition. This must happen when The SVG Calypsonians Association Inc. and most Calypso Tents are operated by ‘CHAT ROOMS’ instead of having meetings where Calypsonians can express their views and have meaningful discussions as to how competitions should be held and ways and means to develop the artform in ALL areas . within the necessary guidelines. But as a Calypsonian sang years ago..’WE LIKE IT SO’

  3. After looking at a video of a discussion on singing and judging calypso, I passed the info to Earl to pass to the judges. I wasn’t impressed with many artists – especial the men. It is important for all Soca/calypso enthusiasts to take a look at this discussion. It’s on the Caribana website listed below. You can’t miss it because it the Home Page and will be for a while. The female artists came on strong this year. I hope to take snippets from several that I filmed and compiled into a movie. I didn’t attend all tents so I may be missing some artists. Hence I’d be glad to get some material to include, so please send pictures and videos to the site or my email skeckpalmer@yahoo.com.

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