1999 Crop Over Season
 Harvest of Winners in Barbados

  by Elizabeth Watson, [email protected] (Barbados)
Kaiso No. 29, August , 1999 (In Kaiso 27 Kaiso publisher Ray Funk reviewed Elizabeth Watson's discography of Barbados artist, John King. ) More Kaiso

Crop Over in Barbados in the 20th Century is a thing of the past when the 1999 Festival concluded on August 2nd.  In keeping with past years, three musical events were held during the festival - Party Monarch, Pic-o'-de-Crop and Tune of the Crop Competitions. 

Party Monarch Competition
This event seeks to identify the best party tune of the year. It is usually a soca number.  Each competitor renders one piece at the preliminary stage from which 20 semi-finalists are chosen. From the pool of semifinalists 9 competitors are chosen to challenge the previous year's winner.  The person defending the crown is automatically a finalist, who, in 1999, was Lil' Rick. Edwin Yearwood's "Agony" narrowly defeated Red Plastic Bag (RPB)'s "Volcano." 
To some extent this was a surprise victory as many persons felt that RPB was a sure winner.  Edwin is currently on tour with his band Krosfyah.  He therefore had to fly over 15,000 miles, from California, to participate in the finals of this event.  He rejoined the band immediately after winning the competition. The finals of The Party Monarch Competition were held on Sunday July 25th at the scenic Barclays Park on the East Coast of the island.  The venue is often called "the calypso bowl" because of the natural formation and the backdrop that the Atlantic Ocean renders to the site. Other popular party tunes in 1999 are Mac Fingall's "Soca Man" and  "Pelt Yuh Hand" by Miss Wiggins Last Son, formerly Peter Ram.

 The Barbados Calypso Monarch Competition culminates at the National Stadium on the Friday night preceding the first Monday in August.  It has the same number of stages as the Party Monarch Competition.  Eighteen semifinalists  faced the judges to determine the 8 finalists.  This number was increased by one in 1999 because of Red Plastic Bag's decision not to defend his crown.  (He cited stress caused by his involvement in the management of a new tent, The Virgin Atlantic Headliners as the main reason.  His withdrawal led to several heated contributions to the call-in radio shows and contributions to the national newspapers.)

Gabby's 6th win makes him the most crowned calypso monarch of Barbados.  "Mock Sport" (a political commentary) and "This World" (a reflection on environmental issues), both self-penned were his pieces.  "Mock Sport" (a local term meaning making fun of) is a medium-paced catchy tune while the slower "This World" won the Best Melody of the Competition.  Based on the published scores, he convincingly beat his opponents. 
 Kid Site, a former monarch, gained second place.  His pieces "Take Him Down" and "The man from St. Peter" are both political commentaries.  "Take Him Down" deals with the proposal to remove a statue of Horatio Nelson from its prominent location in the capital - Bridgetown. "The Man from St. Peter" relates to the general elections.  The Prime Minster represents the constituency of St. Peter and the lyrics are written as if a lady (the electorate) is leaving her gentlemen (the other party) for the man from St. Peter.  Both numbers are also self-penned. 
Miss TC, a crowd favourite placed third.  She sang "Broken Dolls" which deals with abuse against women, primarily rape and "Victory" which looks at the racial issues and predicts that black people will be victorious in their struggles, there are significant drum sections in this piece.  The last is a Gabby composition. Both were slow numbers.
Khiomal, a 17 year old, former Junior Monarch and 1st runner up in the 1999 Junior competition was adjudged 4th by the judges.  His self penned "Children Get Up" encourages children to take a greater  part on society and assume more responsibility for their actions. "Rise, Barbados Rise," written by John King, is a patriotic number which encourages nationals to love and care for their country.  This piece was adjudged the winner of the BATMAN (Barbados Association of Tent Managers) Best Nation Building Song of the competition. Several people are encouraged by Khiomal's performance and many feel that he is a calypsonian to watch in future competitions. The other 1999 finalists were Adrian Clarke, Invader no # 3 (a former monarch), Colin Spencer and Kathy Clarke.

Tune of the Crop Competition this award is for the tune that is most played by the masquerading bands.  The winner was RPB's "Volcano."   This competition is equivalent to the road march competition in other countries.

1999 Recordings 
Miss TC. New direction. includes the 2 tracks that she rendered in the competition. Mac Fingall. Last bum bum.  Bayfield Records. includes his popular "Change yuh soca man," "Cushion" and "Barbados Belong to Trinidad." Red Plastic Bag. 246010100. Bayfield.  includes the popular "Volcano" and the slower number, "Hold on and dance." Square 1's Fast Forward has 19 tracks most of which are soca numbers. Compilations/Anthologies Spirit of the rhythm Vol. 4 - a Roett-Hoyos Productions compilation includes Adonijah's "Tenor Pan" which has some beautiful tenor solos by David Walcott, Adrian Clarke's "Wuk-up Symphony" which merges the Blue Danube Waltz with a wicked soca tune and a remake of "Sugar bum bum"  featuring Natahlee and Kitchener. Other compilations are Hot like Fire and Right and Wrong. Calypso Monarch Gabby has not released his songs commercially, however he is in the studio and hope to have a release on the Ice label before the end of the year. 

Kings of Kings Competition 
The first leg of the King of Kings Calypso Competition was held in Barbados on August 6th.  The second and final leg will be held in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad on August 30th.  18 Calypsonians are vying for the top prize of TT$250,000 (approximately (US$42,000).  The competitors are Rebel and Winford James (Guyana); Batchelor (St. Lucia's monarch); Singing Sandra (TnT's monarch); Duke, Gypsy, Cro-Cro, Black Stalin, Mystic Prowler (former TnT monarchs); Scrunter (TnT); G.B. (Young TnT monarch); Kit Site and Invader no3 (former Barbados monarchs); Adonijah and Ras Iley (Barbados); Gabby (Barbados monarch); Swallow (Antigua); Black Wizard (Grenada).

Outstanding performances in the first leg came from Sandra, "Voices from de ghetto" and "De Equalizer," Rebel, "Lick He Down" and "Second Hand Man;" Black Stalin, "Sufferers" and "Pan Makers,";  Gypsy, "Man Call Himself" and "Caribbean Sport"; and Cro-Cro "Tribute to Allison Hinds" and one other. Performers have to render 4 songs from the following categories: social commentary; humorous; party; pan.  Only one of the four songs rendered has to be an original work and performers can sing the work of anyone they choose. The final leg of the competition in Port-of-Spain promises to be exciting.  August 30th has been designated as World Calypso Day thus, holding the finals of this competition on this day is an appropriate way to mark the observance.
Keep those email messages and news coming to the Rainy Summer No Longer Frozen North. Ray Funk, POBox 72387, Fairbanks, AK. 99707, [email protected].

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