This yearly pilgrimage to the reputed mecca, undertaken by thousands of the art form’s aficionados, fully stocked with food and drinks of choice, alcoholic and non-alcoholic and filled with a mood of merriment, will converge onto the venue to be part of Calypso Fiesta 2013, when 40 of this year’s Monarch hopefuls will vie for superiority in the semis. Included among the “pilgrims” will be lovers of the art as well as a spattering of critics.
The competition is run by the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO).
As serious as the competition is for those seeking a place in the National Monarch Calypso finals, they perform before an audience that has always been pumped up into a party atmosphere long before the first note is struck, so that while there are those rooting for their favourite bards, the partying never stops regardless of who is at the microphone. An even bigger party begins when the contest is over and Skinner Park is turned into the largest party venue in the country.
Of the 40 calypsonians in this battle for places on the big stage in Port of Spain there are six former monarchs – Chalkdust (Dr Hollis Liverpool); Sugar Aloes (Michael Osouna); Singing Sandra (Sandra Des Vignes-Millington); Kurt Allen, Pink Panther (Eric Taylor) and 2011 monarch Karen Asche.
Last year’s monarch Duane O’Connor will defend his crown and said earlier he was confident of retaining his crown. “I feel great this year and I am sure that I will hold on to my title.” He said his competitors would have to fight “very hard” to dethrone him.
The monarch’s two offerings this year are “Seeking Sparrow’s Advice” and “Building the Wall”.
Skinner Park has been the waterloo for many a singer because of the unforgiving nature of the audience over the years, who are not cowed into subduing their feelings, if for whatever reason they believe a performance is not up to the required, but unmeasured standard. This displeasure is shown by the “weapon of choice” – the rather common place roll of toilet paper.
The competition spans all age groups – from the young to the veterans, the youngest being Helon Francis to Allrounder (Anthony Hendrickson), who is probably the oldest.
Other semi-finalists are Alana Sinette, Alex Gill (Tobago Chalkie) Allan Fortune, (Bro Mudada), Carlos James (Skatie), Devon Seales, Dillon Thomas, Eunice Peters, Giselle Fraser-Washington, Heather McIntosh, Henson Wright (Calypso Prince), Karen Eccles-Thomas, Khadija Antoine, Kizzy Ruis, Leslie Ann Ellis, Yvette Steele (Lady Gypsy), Marion Pamponette, Marsha Charles and Marva Joseph (Marvellous Marva).
Other competitors are: Michael Leggerton (Protector) Michelle Henry, Myron Bruce (Myron B), Nicole Thomas, Randolph Hillaire (Count Robin),Roderick Gordon (Mr Chucky), Roslyn Reid, Sean Daniel, Sheldon Bullen (Sheldon Nugget), Terri Lyons, Victor McDonald (Mr Mack), Victoria Cooper (Queen Victoria) and reserves Anne Marie Parks (Twiggy) Lornette Nedd-Reid (Fya Empress) and Winston Scarborough (De Original de Fosto Himself).
Finalists for TUCO’s Social Commentary category are - Helon Francis, Roderick Gordon and Sheldon Bullen, while in the TUCO Political Commentary are Devon Seales, Eunice Peters and Kurt Allen. These category finals take place on Monday, while the calypso monarch finals will take place next Thursday.