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Arlene "Kija Gani-The Goddess" Legair performing at the launch of Vincymas 2024 in Kingstown on May 17, 2024.
Arlene “Kija Gani-The Goddess” Legair performing at the launch of Vincymas 2024 in Kingstown on May 17, 2024.
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The Upstage Experience is welcoming the return of two female bards to the calypso tent this year.

Arlene “Kija Gani-The Goddess” Legair, who won the East St. George monarch title in 2004, is making a return to the art form.

Kija Gani, who grew up in Trinidad, where she honed her craft, performed her 2024 rendition during the launch of Vincymas 2024 in Kingstown on May 17.

Also rejoining the cast of Upstage Experience is Denise “Lady D” Stephens, a former Best New Song champ.

Upstage leader Shaunelle Mc Kenzie said the tent will host its first show on Wednesday at Russell’s Auditorium at Stoney Ground.

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Then, on June 5, the tent will host a show in North Leeward “for the first time in a very long time”, she told a Calypsonian Association press conference in Kingstown.

“We’ve done Barrouallie, we’ve done Layou in the past, but this year we decided to take it as far as North Leeward,” she said, adding that the show will take place in Cumberland.

“This show is going to be a special show because the Upstage Experience, wanted to invite artistes from … that side of the island to be featured.”

She said the show will feature “The ABC of Calypso”, Alston “Beckett” Cyrus and Poorsah, a former member of the tent.

“That show is going to be a very big show,” she said.

Shaunelle McKenzie
Leader of Upstage Calypso Tent, Shaunelle Mc Kenzie speaking at the Calypsonians Association press conference in Kingstown on May 21, 2024.

Then, on June 8, the tent heads to Miller’s Junction in Sandy Bay for what has become a regular stop in the North Windward village.

“So, I know On Tour has the name but upstage will, in fact, be on tour,” she said, adding that the Sandy Bay stop “is like a norm for us. … it’s in our fixture to be in Sandy Bay.

“They look forward to this show,” she stated, noting that the venue is open-air.

The tent will host its final show on June 12 at Russell’s Auditorium, when the cast will face the judges in the preliminaries.

McKenzie noted that Upstage has won the national calypso crown all but once since 2019, when it also won the Queen of Calypso title.

Man Zangie took the national title in 2017 and 2018 and Mc Kenzie in 2018.

“Tajoe walked with it’s a little while — we gave them a little break in 2022,” McKenzie said, referring to the Graduates tent member.

“… and then in 2023, we took both of them back with Lornette ‘Fya Empress’ Nedd,” McKenzie said, adding, “And I want to say that we’ve also maintained places in the top four spots for the national competition for all these years.”

She said Upstage is presenting a 15-member cast this year.

“… Kijah has a very big song, this year. I’m really looking forward to her performing that song.

“Lady D, we welcome her with open [arms]. I think she used to be a member of Upstage once upon a time. So, she knows where home is. So she’s back with us … this year.

McKenzie said Upstage was active during the earlier part of the year with a training session for its calypsonians.

“We always insist that our calypsonians keep on top of their game. And one way to do that is to ensure that they are trained annually.”

The tent leader said Upstage would like to do more but is limited by finances.

“We want to also encourage sponsors to come on board with the calypso tents because as much as we would like to do 10 shows for the year, do our seasonal shows and still do calypso throughout the year, we are also restricted by financing,” McKenzie said.

“So that is something worth mentioning from the Upstage Experience. We thrive on excellence.”

The full cast: Cecile “Lil Bit” King, Shena Collis, Denise “Lady D” Stephens, Collette “Collette Shun” Myers, Ronald “Ron B” Browne, Jerome “Parry” Samuel, Omani Cupid, Kristian “Lill Kris” Christopher, Divyne “Skye” Hackshaw, Michael “Lord have Mercy” Ollivierre, Brian “Sprinter” John, Juniel “Lola” McIntosh, Gosnel “GC” Cupid, De andre “Young King” Simmons, Arlene “The Goddess Kijah Gani” Legair, Nigel “Broom” Lyttle, Hilford Hurst, Shaunelle McKenzie,  Lornette “Fya Empress” Nedd, Fitzroy “Iceman” Ragguette, Raeon “Maddzart” Primus and Pearl Wiliams.