The 2014 National Calypso Monarch delivered two solid performances which pushed him to the head of the class for a second consecutive year during Sunday’s Dimanche Gras show at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain. He is only the fifth calypsonian to successfully defend his title since the competition started in 1939.
He follows in the greatness of Raymond “Atilla The Hun” Quevado (1946, 1947), Slinger “Sparrow” Francisco (1962,1963 and 1972, 1973, 1974), Dr Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool (1976, 1977 and 2004, 2005) and Kelvin “Mighty Duke” Pope (1969, 1970, 1971).
Singing in position number ten, Gordon, 27, sang “The Rose” in the first round followed by “I Believe” in the second round to run away with the $1million prize.
In “The Rose”, written by Larry Harewood, Gordon sang about the phenomenon of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar emerging “smelling like a rose” on every occasion her People Partnership is embroiled in some controversy.
Written by Fazad Shageer, Ray Holman and Gordon himself, “I Believe”, is a nation-building song in which Gordon sings of his belief in the resilience of the people of Trinidad and Tobago and their tenacity to do whatever needs to be done to overcome any obstacles facing the country.
Gordon stood out as one of the better singers in the competition. He knows how to use his voice and his vocal performance was pitch perfect.
Commenting on his back-to-back win, Gordon said he could not explain the feeling this year’s victory has brought him.
“Last year was one thing. But to be in the realm of a defender is inexplicable,” Gordon said.
“Coming into the competition, just like last year, I wasn’t considered a favourite. My name wasn’t even calling when it came to who people wanted to be crowned monarch. But it is just a testament to hard work. I strategised what songs I wanted to do, how I was going to deliver and its just evidence that hard work pays off.”
Gordon, who was also in the finals of the International Soca Monarch Competition on Fantastic Friday (February 13) dedicated his victory to his family and the community of Laventille.
“This win is as a result of everyone coming together and supporting me. The season was a bit challenging because it was so short having to defend and then perform in the calypso tent and on the soca scene.
In second place was Devon Seale who was one of the favourites going into the finals. His first selection “My Humble Plea” has been on the lips of many calypso lovers since the track was released.
The song is beautifully written and arranged with an infectious bass line and a catchy chorus in which he called on Persad-Bissessar and her ministers to “go now”.
Outfitted in a red jacket, a white shirt and black trousers, Seale’s diction was impeccable and his performance was a very measured one which earned him a loud roar of approval from the audience who waved miniature flags in support.
But the unfamiliarity with his second song “Soul Judges” and the unique approach taken to the arrangement and presentation may have cost him the title.
Dressed somewhat like James Brown, known as ‘The Godfather of Soul’, Seale sang he was advised over the years to put more soul into his renditions because that’s what the judges wanted. In a hard-hitting commentary on some judges, who he said never wrote a note nor “sang one bar or a line”, he decided to give them what they wanted. He won $500,000.
Coming in third and winning $250,000 was another crowd favourite in Karene Asche who won the title in 2011. Singing in position number two, Asche was convincing in her delivery of “Bridge the Gap” in the first round and “Every Knee Shall Bow” in the second. The latter has been on heavy rotation on radio airwaves. Asche, like Gordon and Seale, is also a very experienced performer having come up through the ranks of the Junior Calypso Monarch competition.
Seasoned calypsonian Heather Mc Intosh placed fourth singing “Ah Gone” and “An Ode For 4”.
2012 Calypso Monarch Duane O’Connor, whose Cocorite home was destroyed by fire just last week, placed seventh singing “Citizens’ Pride” and “Dance of Deliverance”. He congratulated Gordon saying the competition was very stiff and one of the better ones within recent times. He said it was a great accomplishment for him to be in the finals having been chosen from among hundreds of calypsonians. Reflecting on the tragedy which befell him one week ago, O’Connor said he just decided to put everything aside, go out and perform. He said he has partially moved in to his new Housing Development Company (HDC) home which was presented to him on Wednesday by Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal.
1. Roderick ‘Chucky’ Gordon - The Rose / I Believe
2. Devon Seale - My Humble Plea / Soul Judges
3. Karene Asche - Bridge the Gap / Every Knee Shall Bow
4. Heather Mc Intosh - Ah Gone / An Ode For 4
5.Selvon ‘Mistah Shak’ Noel - Pretender’s Reminder / Target
6.Brian London - Wishful / Who Vex Loss
7. Duane O’Connor - Citizens’ Pride / Dance of Deliverance
8.Myron ‘The Incredible Myron B’ Bruce - Data Analysis / Ebola Scare
9.Joanne ‘Tigress’ Rowley - What You Willing to Die For / Peace Chant
10.Victoria ‘Queen Victoria’ Cooper - Venting / Long Live Calypso
11.Neville ‘Bunny B’ Brown - Multi Crisis / Tame Tame Tame
12.Winston ‘The Original De Fosto Himself’ Scarborough - Games / Messages of the Patriarch