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By Janelle De Souza Tuesday, February 18 2014

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Roger “Bodyguard” Mohammed has made the grade with his “False Papers” qualifying for the semifinals of the 2014 Calypso Monarch competition, even as Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osuna, who rejected him as a cast member of the Kalypso Revue, failed to advance.

Osuna had found the song, “False Papers”, offensive and an attack on East Indians. The song is about persons of East Indian descent with false degrees. Osuna, a former monarch who has been criticised in the past for stinging political commentaries also deemed to be anti-Indian and racist, defended his decision saying he had to be mindful of how patrons of the tent he runs at SWWTU Hall, Port-of-Spain felt about the songs his cast sang.

Undeterred from performing his song, Mohammed, a policeman, found a space among the cast of the Icons calypso tent, at Ambassador Hotel, St James, led by another former monarch, Weston “Cro Cro” Rawlins, who also has a reputation for biting political commentaries. He was among those who took Osuna to task for turning down Mohammed, who will be among the 40 semi-finalists at Calypso Fiesta, Skinner Park, San Fernando on Saturday.

When Newsday contacted Mohammed he was excited to learn that he had progressed to the semis. He said he felt great about it, saying he always had confidence in the song.

Mohammed said the song received a lot of support from the national community, even from persons of East Indian descent. However he noted that there would be people for the song, and others would only hear the word “Indian” and object to it.

“It’s just a factual song. I would have to be foolish to cast aspersions on all people of East Indian descent where this is concerned. The song specifically deals with those who have been caught with false CVs, most of whom happen to be people of East Indian descent,” he said.

The semi-finalists were announced yesterday by the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO) Adjudication Management Committee at the Kaiso House, Queen’s Park Savannah.

Asked about the fact that Mohammed made it to the semi-finals, TUCO president, Lutalo “Brother Resistance” Masimba said, “The song is just as any other song in the competition. The competition is a national situation and has nothing to do with anyone’s personal feelings.”

Ironically, Osuna, whose offerings at the Revue are “Changes” and “Political Traffic Light”, did not make it to the semis. Not only did Mohammed advance but so too did Rawlins with the song “Pious, Poor But Proud”. Neither Osuna nor Rawlins could be reached for comment yesterday.

Among the newer faces at the calypso semis is St Vincent and the Grenadines-born, Lornette “Fya Empress” Reid, who is more popularly known on the soca circuit, making it to the Power Soca Monarch final last year, and this year’s semi-final of the Groovy Soca Monarch competition.

Reid, who has been living in Tobago for the past 15 years, yesterday said she “feels great” about being in the competition for the calypso crown. She noted she made it to the semi-final of the National Women’s Action Committee (NWAC) National Calypso Queen competition in 2012 with the song “I am Woman.” She was also crowned the St Vincent National Calypso Monarch with the song that same year. “I am an entertainer and not just about soca. I feel this is another chance for me to get out there, let people get to know me and let Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean region see me in a different light,” she said.

In addition to the Calypso Monarch semi-finalists, TUCO also announced the category finalist. In the political category the competitors are Brian London with “Call Dem Out”; Sheldon Noel, also known as Mr Shak with “Bois”; and Nevelle “Bunny B” Brown with “Milk”. The finalists in the social category are Heather Mac Intosh with “Nutten Eh Good”, Kurt Allen with “Sweet Sizzling”; and Leslie-Ann Ellis with “Blest With Beauty”.

The category finals as well as the extempo finals are scheduled to take place at Kaisorama on February 27, at the Lord Kitchener Auditorium, National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA), Port-of-Spain.

Masimba said this year’s competition was a historic one as it was the 100th anniversary of the first vocal recording of calypso. “I want to congratulate everyone who participated in the competition, and wish them all the best as they move forward,” he said.

After the semi-finals on Saturday, 11 calypsonians will be chosen to move on to the finals to challenge the reigning monarch, Eric “Pink Panther” Taylor, on Carnival Sunday, March 2, during the Dimanche Gras show at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.

The Calypso Monarch final returns to the Dimache Gras after an experiment last year when the competition took place in the week before Carnival Sunday.

The 12 finalists will sing two songs to win the first prize of $1 million, the second prize of $500,000, and the third prize of $250,000.

Calypso Monarch semifinalists

Alana Sinette Sealots

Alex Gift Tobago Chalkie D’Same Pedigree

Allan Fortune Bro Mudada The Parliament Tent

Allan Welch Soil Technician

Amrika Mutroo Doh Judge Meh

Anthony Emrold Phillip Bro Valentino Constitutional Reform

Anthony Hendrickson All Rounder We Only Passing Through

Bevon St Clair Another Flambeaux

Brian London Call Dem Out

Carlos James Skatie Jack and Jill

Devon Seales FDAT

Erphaan Alves Piano Unplugged

Francine Edwards Singing Francine Honour Them

Georgia Mc Intrye The Messenger Make The Right Choice

Giselle Fraser-Washington GG Save De Land

Heather Mac Intosh Nutten Eh Good

Heaven Charles Snakey The Dhoti Song

Hollis Liverpool Chalkdust The Guest List

Karen Eccles-Thomas Values of Life

Karene Asche Malice in Wonderland

Kerice Pascal Ke Ke Fix It and Hush

Kurt Allen Sweet Sizzling Summer Or the Lost Psalm of King David

Leslie Ann Ellis Blest with Beauty

Lornette Reid Fya Empress Just

Marlon Edwards Leave It Dey

Morel Peter King Luta No Guns No Weapons

Myron Bruce Myron B One More Sip

Neville Brown Bunny B Milk

Nicole Tomas The Love We Owe

Roderick Gordon Chucky Wah Yuh Think

Roger Mohammed Body Guard False Papers

Rondell Donawa Yes We Can

Rosemary Mitchell Young Rose Message To The Bad Man

Sandra De Vignes Millington Singing Sandra Madiba

Sean Daniel Psalmist Gospel

Selvon Noel Mista Shak Bois

Stephen Marcelle Almost Doesn’t Count

Tammico More Spicey Man In Dat

Victoria Cooper Queen Victoria Political Love Affair

Weston Rawlins Cro Cro Pious, Poor But Proud

Reserves: Lynette Steele Lady Gypsy Dangerous World

Michael Leggerton Protector Dey Dam Vex

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