Juba Doo Bye Bye? Best calls on Chalkdust to hang up his guns once and for all

EPL Infrafred Sauna

The Mighty Chalkdust has no more than one month to make a public announcement that that’s it, he’s calling it a day at last.

In February, in his 50th year in the business, the former schoolteacher who celebrated his 76th birthday in early March sang “Learn from Arithmetic” to beat out 16 others and leave the Mighty Sparrow standing alone in second place with eight wins.

But milestone or no milestone reached, Chalkie has not made public any intention to step away.

Photo: Dr Hollis "Chalkdust" Liverpool performs “Learn from Arithmetic” at the Calypso Monarch final on 26 February 2017 at the Queen's Park Savannah. Chalkdust copped the crown for a record ninth time. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Dr Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool performs “Learn from Arithmetic” at the Calypso Monarch final on 26 February 2017 at the Queen’s Park Savannah.
Chalkdust copped the crown for a record ninth time.
(Courtesy Wired868)

He should. At least, he should consider it. Here’s why.

My Plan A is to use the next month to raise sponsorship for a campaign I shall launch should he fail to call a halt. And in trying to pressure the now nine-time champion septuagenarian into quitting the competitive arena, I’m piggybacking on his 2017 calypso; my tag line is “76 cyar go into ’18.”

Dat cyar wuk? No scene. I have a plan B, inspired by the soca singers in general and the Point duo of SuperBlue and Iwer George in particular. I’ll add another seven or eight words to my one line and have myself a whole calypso for the new season. I’ll call it “Nine times one is enough.”

But I in town too long to take a chance. So just in case I get resistance from TUCO or they change their minds again and decide to go back to two songs in 2018, I’ll compose a second kaiso. It will borrow a not unfamiliar tactic in traditional calypso and update a Chalkie standard.

In 1972, Stalin painted a new portrait of Sniper’s 1965 Trinidad. And David Rudder’s “Engine Room” is Sparrow’s “Outcast” a couple decades later. Cro Cro’s 2002 “Captain, the ship is sinking” is a rewrite of Gypsy’s 1986 write-off of the Chambers Government.

And if Cro is to be believed, in 2001 Shadow dusted off Kitchener’s 1968 “Miss Tourist” and presented it as a new song after rebranding it “Stranger.”

Photo: Five-time Calypso Monarch, the Black Stalin. His "New Portrait of Trinidad" was an update of Sniper's 1965 winning effort.. (Courtesy NCCTT.org)
Photo: Five-time Calypso Monarch, the Black Stalin. His “New Portrait of Trinidad” was an update of Sniper’s 1965 winning effort..
(Courtesy NCCTT.org)

I intend to adapt the original 1977 Juba Doo Bai, which goes like this:

“Chalkie boy, they rob yuh bad last year in the Savannah; you should have been placed between King Sparrow and Kitchener. That’s the talk that you will hear all over Port-of-Spain. Oh boy, look, yuh sure to fail; don’t you go back there again.”

In a Sunday Guardian interview on the day of Dimanche Gras, Chalkie pulled no punches in denouncing the incompetence of the competition’s “untrained” judges.

“Some of the judges cannot write English.” he told the paper’s Joel Julien, “How can you judge calypso? So the judges need training in literacy, in world affairs because calypsonians sing about world affairs.

“The judges have to be literate, they have to know history. How could a man judge calypso and he has not even done Caribbean Civilisation?”

The Mighty Chalkdust, now a record nine-time Calypso Monarch, has been shooting from the hip in kaiso for almost five decades now.
The Mighty Chalkdust, now a record nine-time Calypso Monarch, has been shooting from the hip in kaiso for almost five decades now.

But what the song makes clear is that his displeasure with the standard of the judging in the National Monarch Finals is not new. And even those who have not been following his progress since the early days of “No Smut For Me,” “Ah put on mih guns again” and “Juba Doo Bai” know that he is a man who does not change his tune.

No surprise, then, that he remains convinced the officials who adjudged him to be the best on the night at Dimanche Gras 2017 are not competent.

The lyrics of “Juba Doo Bai,” make very interesting reading 40 years and seven crowns later.  They’ve ensured that certain words will be in my song, words like ‘lard’ and ‘Vaseline,’ ‘KY,’ stuff helping it go in.

“People doh like serious songs,” Chalkie says, “with big, big philosophy.”  (A lil maths is okay but philosophy? Forget dat!)

“We think you intelligent enough to know what to sing,” he claims John Public advised him. “Look, is bacchanal and smut that cause Duke and them to win.”

From the same source comes more advice: “(…) be aware that up there is sex bare they want to hear. Sing about your neighbour’s wife, sing about your own sex life.” (That advice bore spectacular fruit in 2017)

Photo: The Mighty Duke. (Copyright NCCTT)
Photo: The Mighty Duke.
(Copyright NCCTT)

Those desperate enough for a crown, he says, also use strong-arm tactics; they “send them judges death threats.” But the judges don’t help their own cause by accepting the equivalent of Judas’ 30 pieces of Silva, oops, silver.

“The CDC,” we are told, “does give them judges plenty whisky…”

“My friends,” he winds up, “you have me wrong; my aim is really not to win crown.”

So why has the disgruntled bard stuck around for 40 years since then? Blame, as Sparrow sang in the 1950’s, the damn doctor. Instead of competing for the judges, he wanted to start training them long ago. Dr Bird is the one who told him not to stop.

In his 1976 “Ah put on mih guns again,” he sang, “Time to stop, On the stage let new stars be born.”

“I told CDC I’ve stopped singing to start teaching,” the song continues, “for, as I can see, their judges also need training. Many men do not know what is true calypso so I feel I must train the young that our art form won’t go wrong.”

Photo: 2016 and 2017 International Soca Monarch Aaron "Voice" St Louis. (Courtesy Soca News)
Photo: 2016 and 2017 International Soca Monarch Aaron “Voice” St Louis.
(Courtesy Soca News)

A decade and a half later in 1993, however, he diagnosed kaiso as being “sick in the hospital.” Today, monarch of all he surveys, the doctor must be pretty satisfied with his handiwork.

Aaron “Voice” St Louis repeated as International Soca Monarch and Machel “Mork Monte” Montano has temporarily lost the Road March title to Edghill “MX Prime” Thomas, whose monster hit was a runaway winner this year. But none dare challenge MM for ownership of Machel Monday, where Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez once more showcased his massive talent and underlined his immense popularity.

And Kurt “Last Bardjohn of Calypso” Allen’s 2017 lyrics were, I submit, no worse than Chalkie’s despite the low approval rating of those untrained judges who are forking up his corn tree.

What to say, though, of 2017 finalists Karene Asche, Heather McIntosh, Terri Lyons, Devon Seale, Rondell Donawa, Sasha Ann Moses and Miguella Simon, none of whom even has the decency to give him or herself a sobriquet?

I suppose we can blame Rudder for misleading them. Them and the socaing scion of the icons, Nailah Blackman, Fay-Ann Lyons and Kernal Roberts, to name only those.

Fay-Ann Lyons, daughter of Austin "Blueboy" "SuperBlue" Lyons, has not troubled to give herself a stage name.
Fay-Ann Lyons, daughter of Austin “Blueboy” “SuperBlue” Lyons, has not troubled to give herself a stage name.

Me? I’m leaning towards the Mighty Black Bored Eraser but I know that needs work.

Already settled, though, is the first verse of “Trump, judges, trump!” – thanks, Shadow – my 2018 song. If Chalkie insists that “until I die, they’ll hear my cry, juba doo bai” and dares to return to the Savannah stage next year, he’ll have to live down being beaten by a rookie who doesn’t even “know the difference between a metaphor and a simile, a hyperbole.”

Will he maintain that the judges are not competent if I follow his lead and beat them over the head with “76 cyar go into ’18”?

And untrained or not, let them judge this: “Chalkie boy, they love yuh bad. Last year in the Savannah, you should have been placed behind Karene, Devon Seale and Heather. That’s the talk I was hearing all over Port-of-Spain. Old boy, now yuh have nine crowns, why you come back here again?

“If you so want to win more crown…”

My proposed climax ran: “I’d rather die than hear juba doo bai so it’s bye bye.”

But I am advised that that might just provide the incentive the old Chalkie does NOT need to continue competing.

Photo: Lornette "Fya Empress" Nedd-Reid performs her calypso "Guilty" at the Calypso Monarch finals on 26 February 2017 at the Queen's Park Savannah. Her very visible casket didn't help her to bury the competition, which included the now nine-time king. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Lornette “Fya Empress” Nedd-Reid performs her calypso “Guilty” at the Calypso Monarch finals on 26 February 2017 at the Queen’s Park Savannah.
Her very visible casket didn’t help her to bury the competition, which included the now nine-time king.
(Courtesy Wired868)
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About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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  1. Is there a stipulated age for retirement from entering calypso competitions? If not, then on what grounds should he retire?

    • Earl Best

      Reynold, You realise, of course, that I am merely taking him at his word. Go listen carefully to “Ah put on mih guns again” and “Calypso in the hospital.” It is not today he wants to start training the judges to recognise what good calypso is. You remember of course that he was once the director of culture? I believe that he is already doing so, which is a conflict of interest.

  2. I find it interesting how people close ranks around niala maharaj when in my view much of what shes saying is quite valid. I as an African man has bemoaned the content of calypsoes for a long time. I have also said for a long time that the government shouldn’t be funding any competitions for which John public pays entrance fees . And yes there were several years of nasty racist calypsoes – aloes, cro cro, etc. There have also been some that uplifted the value and power of our diversity. Whatever they are, government should not subsidize competitions !

  3. Lasana, the Russian ballet tradition was laid down by the tsars in the 18th Century. Here’s Wiki:

    “Jean-Baptiste Landé founded Russian ballet.
    Empress Anna, (1730 – 1740) was devoted to ostentatious amusements (balls, fireworks, tableaux), and in the summer of 1734 ordered the appointment of Jean-Baptiste Landé as dancing-master in the military academy she had founded in 1731 for sons of the nobility. In 1738, he became ballet master and head of the new ballet school, launching the advanced study of ballet in Russia, and winning the patronage of elite families.[2]” When I referred to Russian state control of the arts, I was talking about Soviet Art, after the revolution, which is well-known for its awfulness.

    • You know that the tsars ran the government of the day right? That just proves my point.
      Most governments of the eastern bloc invested in sport and culture. And there were definitely success stories.
      Like I said, I don’t want to leave these shores for another discussion really.
      I was just making the point that culture is heavily subsided by the State outside of Trinidad too.
      Empress Anna ruled Russia and you better believe that the wealth of those elite families came from the resources of the State.

    • No, the wealth of elite families didn’t come from the state in those days. They were loose confederations of ‘nobility’, all of whom had their own serfs to oppress. They CHOSE to support the ballet. My mother has no right to choose to pay for racist calypsonians. Her taxes are devoted to them. These days we operate democracies where citizens have a right to influence what happens in the public sphere. So I am expressing an opinion that NO culture should be underwritten by government with taxpayer’s money and certainly not that offence to human sensibilities called calypso competition.

  4. Wonder how someone will react if someone said put down the pen?

    • I’d say pick up the laptop. But to treat your remark in the spirit in which it is meant, here’s my response. My feeling is that what has happened is that ‘the pen’ has replaced calypso. A lot of us who would have turned into calypsonians got education and opportunities to write our thoughts rather than sing them. I’m thinking people like Keith Smith, BC Pires, myself. If the only avenue open to us was the stage we would have utilised it. However, the technology changed. I do think it is possible for someone to write a good song and one that is worthy to last, but those are not in the calypso competition. They are not PNM propaganda, so we might be jamming still on the streets with good songs, but not in the state sponsored, taxpayer-burdened waste-of-time competition.

    • biased ignorant statement.
      My cousin was Penguin, Seadly Joseph.
      Roland Gordon is also my cousin, one of the country’s most prolific musical teachers, and calypso judge and a whole lot of other things in the cultural forms…

      Seadly and Roland were very well educated, even being mindful of their time.
      Seadly was a writer my dear. An english teacher . and for those who know and studied calypso, one of the best when it came to lyrics and the height of literature.

      I in fact want/ed to write a book on his lyrics as a tool of instruction to society if they were to ever be elucidated. people sing his songs and only get off on the parts that resonate, but miss a verse here and there

      Roland’s son is Roderick. Chucky. Also my cousin, also a very intelligent and well educated bard.

      So please do not write that ignorance projected.
      Almost three generations referred to here. All educated. And all Seadly’s tunes he wrote himself, something to think about …i wont mention why lest i be seen to be pelting.

      It is also deep as I continue reading your comment and assume because technology change people put down the stage and the form. And that so clearly indicates the difference between dryso and those who are passionate. Those men did not do what they did for the love of stage, but for the love of artform.

      Seadly’s son is the program manager at NAPA, and he does shows, he does classical and jazz renditions of calypso, but you talk about love of the artform. Your comments are totally devoid of any kind of such sensibility

      I dont even have to go to the grave, I shudder to consider how many conversations my family has on form and format, even up to new years discussing content, down to my last cousin creating his own form of the thing…’jiggy calypso” wow. you are really showing me a certain vibration

      “If the only avenue open to us was the stage we would have utilised it.”

      Is that some sort of perceived elitism too? cause as I just showed, a whole crew of people, and there are many many others had options for both. and still chose the tradition
      > so what we have here is a complete desecration of a tradition…? a dismissal?

      If folk reading this thread could think and do so critically …it would not be palatable the conclusions.
      sometimes we dont need the old masters…the new will do

      i need to check my thought but no time to do so in the moment…but your willingness to effortlessly conflate politics into a cultural discussion and context I think is the basis of the problem of how you present/ it is as if all the good stuff cease to be because of the politics. so whose politics is center here? who has issues beyond the form??

      this is so tricky. very much a riddle
      and i get back to my only question of weight >

      when, according to you, did calypso/nians become racist.

      For my own learning, and edification

    • Sorry, Maven. I really don’t follow what you say. It’s okay if you call my statements ignorant. – That part is clear. Do you think you could make the rest clearer? I didn’t say longer, clearer. Maybe bullet points can help.

  5. retire for what to please,we want to prematurely retire the bard,i cannot endorse let him chose his exit strategy,calling to quit is not in my book.

  6. Racism and Age discrimination, and you have the nerve to use “social media” to ask me to cortribute to further the continuation of these cardinal sins. As long as these social evils are still prevalent Chalkie has duty to sing and compete as long as he has breath in his lungs

  7. Aren’t we a developing nation that believes that discrimination of any kind is not only wrong but morally unacceptable ? So lo

  8. Is Earl best familiar with the rules of the calypso competition?Is anyone commenting here familiar with the rules of the calypso competition?Chalkdust is an icon in the calypso world and young bards would do well to sit at the foot of his throne and learn the artform.

    • Earl Best

      Earl Best is familiar with the rules of the competition and Earl Best is trying very hard to get someone who is much better placed than Earl Best is to talk to Wired868’s readers about how the rules work. More on that later right here on Wired868. Stay tuned..

      For now, let me just say that I have missed maybe two, maybe three Dimanche Gras since David Rudder’s 1986 victory so I think I am well placed to talk authoritatively about the competition. And although I agree that Chalkie is “an icon in the calypso world,” the competition is judged on the performance on the night. Who you are, what you are has no bearing, should have no bearing on the results.

      As for young bards sitting at his feet and learning the art form, well, what can I say except to point out two things: (1) Crown number nine came full eight years after crown number eight? And not one of the monarchs in the intervening years looks or sounds remotely like Chalkie.

      (2) Chalkie, so far superior to the rest, has only twice won he crown in consecutive years, 1n 1976 and 1977 and again in 2004 and 2005. Duke did the hat-trick between 1968 and 1971.

      What was your implied point about Chalkie’s superiority again?

  9. Niala Maharaj is obviouslycarrying around a chip on her shoulder. It’s a chip that a lot of Indo Trinis also carry and cry race whenever a calypsonian sings against Sat Maraj or the UNC party.It is instructive to note that Niala Maharaj could not take up Eric St Bernard’s offer to name ”racist” calypsonians

    • Earl Best

      Well, I’m not sure she couldn’t; I think she wouldn’t. But does she really need to? I mean “lick-bottom African,” Chop off deh hand” and “Corruption in Common Entrance” for example kind of leave little to the imagination.

      I think the issue is not whether there are racist calypsonians but whether calypso as a whole genre can be said to be racist. Can it, Niala? Is that a defensible position? Lasana has quoted a handful of songs that clearly speak to concern with an entire society in decay, irrespective of race. Is calypso as a whole good for us all or bad for us all? And does it deserve what appears to be a disproportionate share of the culture pie?

      I think Niala has a point about taxpayers’ money but, like Lasana, I also think she takes it too far.

    • Why are you talking about me in the 3rd person, Lance? I’m right here in front of you. Talk to me. I’m not a beast. Now, to business: You know, them slaves on the plantations used to carry round chip on their shoulder too. And they used to cry race anytime the white man flogged them. I guess you dismiss their complaints as well? Or is it one rule for some people and another rule for another? Secondly, please don’t call me an Indo-Trini. I am a Trinidadian of Indian descent. I do not accept these divisions of people by race. You could call yourself what you want, but try and have a little respect for others’ right to define their own identity. Thank you.

    • NIala, to be honest, up above, you isolated Indians and said you were taking up their plight. It is part of what struck my brain to seek information to the point and time , calypso and calypsonians became racist.

      Something else too, Indians and Africans both have the exact same melanin, shave their head and they both appear ‘black’ the same way, so i personally get confused when questions and references of “the white man” in relation to all equal brown and black people are employed.

      It is interesting to me, in reflection, cause in my brain, a true Trinidadian would never even see this as racism, as us versus them, as african versus indian , For a true Trinidadian it would be an issue of a cultural form that has run the gamut of highs, lows, dynamics and inbetweens, and it can and would be critiqued without it ever going below a certain line.. even when it employs politics, party, unc, indian people. It is like at some point those who know better should be but we never see that. I find that intriguing

      i wonder if folk can grasp what I am saying.. it is like a critique of a thing, the cultural art form of calypso, without ever taking it personal, apart from others in the society, who may or may not look like you. it all comes back to identity, separation, difference,

      It is kind of deep to me. something else I see for the first time in this thread. and I am not one of those trinidadians, but atht is what it would mean if one were to use that label. once you that you cease to see difference between those living a different reality from you, and there be no animosity or anything negative. you would stop anywhere, jump out your car for any of those people. and we know most wont and dont do that. even within camps.

    • Maven, to be honest, I don’t understand what you’re saying. But I get alarmed when you start saying things about what ‘a true Trinidadian’ would see as racism. I would never, ever, in all my born days, lay claim to being ‘a true Trinidadian’. I don’t know what you mean by that, and, to be honest, such categories aren’t very interesting to me. Ultimately, you are saying that the fact that I hold opinions different to yours makes me ‘not a true Trinidadian’. That’s a non-issue. Second, you are talking about critiquing an art form without taking it personal. Sorry, Babe. I’ll take it personal, and I’ll express my opinion based on taking it personal.

    • Niala Maharaj,I spoke in the third person about your comment ,because I did not want to get into a tit for tat with you about a section of our community who have made great strides,yet preach about being victims of race etc,whenever the need arises.My decision to not address you directly, is also justified by your bullshit comment about slaves and white master,somehow trying to link that dark part of our history with Indo Trinidadians,Niala Maharaj.Peace.

    • you twisted what i said. into a different phrase and meaning. > ” what ‘a true Trinidadian’ would see as racism”

      I only referred to exact comments and phrases used in the conversation by you above. I did not veer from that at all

      But I shall leave it alone.

  10. How about this Niala: Sat Maharaj is an important member of the Hindu community. Sat says racist things. Therefore Hinduism is racist.
    That thinking is flawed. Not so?
    I’d accept if you said more should be done to stamp out divisive messages in calypso. But to call calypso racist is wrong on many levels I think.

    • Lasana, I’m afraid I can only discuss things using normal logic. If, as you allege, Sat says racist things, then Sat is racist. Sat is not Hinduism. At the risk of being pedantic I want to repost my first statement on this issue: Me: “I have a better idea. Stop that crap they call calypso competition. All of them ent worth a rotten fish.” Observe. I said stop the competition because the singers no good. I did not say stop calypso. If you want to sing calypso, go right ahead. But do not charge the national community for your right to sing crap. The taxpayer should not be compelled to underwrite talentless, brainless, tuneless PNM propaganists. I hope you won’t try to put words in my mouth.

      • Earl Best

        Does he have any chance of succeeding, Niala, even if he were to try? I know my answer. But it seems to meyou’d have to show that after the Revolution the Russian ballet continued to survive on the basis of “the patronage of elite families” if you are to invalidate Lasana’s point.

    • “No, I loved calypso when calypsonians had talent, not just racist no-brains”
      That is what I was referencing.
      And you missed point on Sat. But let’s not go around in circles. Maybe it was a clumsy or distracting analogy if you don’t understand what I meant to say.

    • I still don’t get your point. I said if people want to sing calypso they may do so. It’s a free country. But taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to support a competition such as is held at present. That’s not clear? Lasana, if we fail to grasp what the other is saying perhaps it is because I take up a point of view that is so far off the wall of current discourse in TT (and elsewhere) that it is difficult to digest. (At least that’s the impression I am getting.) One day I’ll write something serious on this subject.


  12. I find de writer kind of outa place to dictate when the man should retire. Once he still enjoying what he does and he benefiting financially he good right dey. Plus I see Chalkie all the time up Chancellor. He’s a healthy old man. Don’t see him in a rocking chair any time soon. Money haffe make yes!

  13. As long as taxpayers aren’t paying him, I agree. Who like his songs, let them pay to hear them.

  14. He should compose and sing as long as he’s able. It’s mot like we’re drowning in new talent

  15. Sometimes you have to throw away things to progress. I throw away my typewriter happily to write on a computer. There is such a thing as progress.

    • A computer is an upgrade. We didn’t away with the concept that gave us typewriters.

    • Well, we could upgrade calypso into silence. That would be a good upgrade.

    • BOOM, BOOM, and Boom, Lasana Liburd

    • You understand how passive Trinbagonians are and still want to silence any artform that can speak to power–flawed as it may be?
      I respect your right to have an opinion but I just find that wrong on a cultural, social and political level.

    • Speak to power????? Are you kidding? They have not a criticism of the government. They only critiqicise the opposition. Just PNM sycophants. Really, Lasana, can’t you see how absurd this claim is?

    • And, btw. You should look at the twists of logic you employed in the last post. I did not say ‘silence any artful that can…’ That’s nonsense. I said stop funding calypso.

    • Niala, listen to: Caught in the Whirlwind, Games, I Carmona, Plight of my People and Main Witness for songs that speak to power in one way or the other.
      Or anything Mistah Shak has ever song.
      If what you want is simply something critical of the PNM, well enjoy Plight of my People. And ex-UNC minister Gypsy continues to do quite well in calypso competition.
      Although I think his songs are weak personally.

    • And I said calypso was an artform that speaks to power. I did not say it was the only one.

    • Your statement wasn’t correct, but let’s agree that it was just loose expression.

    • Lasana Liburd, this has nothing to do with calypso. Here’s the issue. And I quote:
      “Honey, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and the non-Indian part of the population is scorning the feelings of Indians. They could say what they want about people like me? Then why shouldn’t I be able to say what I want about them? What happen? Indians is second-class citizen now?”

    • No, Patricia. There are 2 elements to my argument. One is that the calypsonians are racist and it’s unfair to take money from their victims and give them. But there is a second argument – I see that state funding has undermined calypso and I believe state funding very often perverts, distorts and destroys culture. All over the world, but I see it very clearly in TT.

    • You are STUCK in this racist mode, Niala. Not a good thing. That ideology defeats all your valid point(s) in a debate/argument. Your second sentence is unbending proof of my opinion. Sorry.

    • Call it what you want, Dear. I responded to you in good faith and if you are unable to appreciate it, cool.

    • Niala, whom I like, loves to beat the race horse. And, it often distorts her other points, which I’m open too and most times agree with. Maybe I need to go Europe and sip tea with her and help her redefine her perspective. Most Trinis are not racist, if we could start there it would be helpful to make this country a better place

    • I don’t love to beat nothing except stupid man. (kidding). I feel a responsibility to speak up because I dare and have nothing to lose. The feelings I describe are very common but not expressed publicly. I find that very sad.

    • Oh I got your number, Niala; loud and clear. And I’m soooo good with it.

    • I got yours too, Pat. Your number is obvious to anyone who has watched Trinidad decline into a hell-hole.

    • Coming into this argument late but just wanted to chime in support of Niala. There might be an occasional good song out there and quite a few good artists but the institution itself is rotten if not dead, only propped up by state funding. The creativity has been coming from outside the tent going back to rapso, Kiskadee Caravan etc. I would say the storytelling tradition is not really helped by the deep political and racial partisanship of the tent – contrast this with what people like Drew Gonsalves and of course David Rudder have been doing. Ask why Brother Marvin had to ride out of town! The competition has given legitimacy and validation to a form of hate speech. Not all calypsonians are guilty or course, nor is all calypso racist or politically partisan. But collectively the competition and the tent have colluded in elevating a certain perspective and silencing, censoring or ignoring more inclusive perspectives. Pull the damn plug on the competition and free the artform, oui.

      • Earl Best

        Peter, ask yourself if pulling the plug on the competition would free the art form. Maybe we need to look for ways to redirect the investment so that the end result of the action would be the freeing of the art form. But what is the happen while the grass is growing, that is the question.

  16. Lol. Personally I don’t think he should retire because, arguably, the judges aren’t recognizing the “right” calypsos.
    Man can sing til he loses his voice for me. Up to the judges to pick him or not.

  17. How can we just kill such our rich tradition of story telling? Talk about throwing out the baby with the bath water.

  18. Where these dumb asses does appear from

  19. The Prize money more than gratuity and pension combined. He eh going nowhere. Lol

  20. I have a better idea. Stop that crap they call calypso competition. All of them ent worth a rotten fish.

    • Niala, did you always hate Calypso?

    • No, I loved calypso when calypsonians had talent, not just racist no-brains

    • Niala, I’m sure you know that is a dangerous and unfair generalization.

    • why dangerous? I find it more dangerous to have taxpayers paying money to encourage people to sing racist filth. Honey, Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and the non-Indian part of the population is scorning the feelings of Indians. They could say what they want about people like me? Then why shouldn’t I be able to say what I want about them? What happen? Indians is second-class citizen now?

    • Niala, I’m listing 12 names, tell me which one fits into your statement-
      Funny, Rio, Gypsy, Relator, Rose, Shadow, Stalin, Rudder, Sparrow, Jonhnny King, Crazy, Barron ….

    • Tell me which one of them going up in that ridiculous competition they does have.

    • Let me tell you something Mr Eric. The person who proposed to UWI to give Sparrow an honorary doctorate was me. I was a senior administrator there then. That tradition has been abandoned, the tradition of intelligent and amusing calypso. I am not in favour of encouraging mediocre, divisive crap. Let it die.

      • You love sparrow’s image, because his music was a symbol of the jovial, make you laugh, “non-threatening” african, not critical of your community, and it’s leaders. It’s amazing how arrogantly you admit to using your position of power, at a public institution, to cherry-pick and award a “non-threatening” (challenging) african musician.

    • I gave you 12 names. Not one fit into your view of racist. I could give you another 50 who would also not fit into your general statement. So you would condemn the majority because you have objections with a few ? Have a wonderful weekend dear. And, thanks for pushing for Sparrow’s doctorate.

    • The 2017 Calypso Monarch final list:

      1st. Dr Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool: Learn from Arithmetic

      2nd. Karene Asche: Caught in the Whirlwind

      3rd. Heather Mac Intosh: Games

      4th. Terri Lyons: The Phrase

      5th. Rondell Donawa: Lip Service

      6th. Devon Seales: I Carmona

      7th. Roderick “Chucky” Gordon: Wha Yuh Doing

      8th. Victoria “Queen Victoria” Cooper: The Call to Prayer

      9th. Lynette “Lady Gypsy” Steele: Plight of my People

      10th. Anthony “All Rounder” Hendrickson: To Be an Icon

      11th. Weston “Cro Cro” Rawlins: Final Send-Off

      12th. Winston “Gypsy Peters: Angry Land

      13th. Kurt Allen: My Corn Tree

      14th. Sasha-Ann Moses: Main Witness

      15th. Lornette “Fya Empress” Nedd-Reid: Guilty

      16th. Miguella Simon: Still Colonial

      17th. Marsha “Lady Adanna” Clifton: Social Media

    • How many of those should be judged racist to justify you pulling the plug on calypso Niala? 50 percent? 75 percent?
      If Sat Maharaj, as general secretary of a massive Hindu group, says racist things… Should we outlaw Hinduism?
      I don’t see how you can justify your stance.

    • Eric A St Bernard You give me an anachronistic list. You give me names from when calypso was respectable. Not from this talentless bunch today. If you guys want to have an intelligent discussion of calypso as a cultural phenomenon, I am quite happy to have it. But I am not accepting this chauvinistic attitude that people have to like any crap that is produced in TT because it is produced there.

    • And my list was from barely a month ago Niala.

    • Lasana, I read the comments of people on FB and the overwhelming opinion was that those singers sang crap. I have been in Trinidad for carnival in recent years and listening to them was painful in the extreme. So I didn’t make the effort to listen this year. I don’t have to hear everything Trump says to say he talks crap. Ditto calypsonians

    • If you heard a couple of Trump speeches and decide that everything he says is crap, well I might not agree but I would still get where you are coming from.
      But if you hear something that Sugar Aloes said which you didn’t like and decide that Mistah Shak and Kizzie Ruiz and Devon Seales and Sasha Ann Moses should all be deemed guilty too…
      Well, THAT leap of logic I definitely don’t grasp.

    • Lasana Liburd I never said outlaw calypso. I said do not support it with state funds and give prizes to idiots. Calypso was great before the state funded it. The tents were great, the singers sang wonderful things. Money killed the thing.

    • There is almost nothing you do or enjoy on any given day that isn’t supported by State funds at some level Niala. Calypso shouldn’t be cut adrift on the back of a few bad calypsonians/calypsos.

    • If I send you a list of recent songs, which unfortunately did not get the exposure they deserve, would you promise to go to YouTube and listen ?

    • Lasana, with all due respect: what you say there isn’t true. Culture doesn’t depend on ‘state support’. It depends on talent and the support of the community and all I saw on FB this year was disdain for what was offered at the competition. I think it is only some educated people who are mentally invested in this interpretation of what TT’s culture is that are concerned.

    • Eric A St Bernard You don’t have to do that, Eric. I will take your word for it that the songs you will choose will be good. But they didn’t get the exposure – and that is a symptom of the problem.

    • First Niala, most people see posts from their friends on Facebook and that often robs them of contrasting views. But I’m not saying calypsos were not lacking bite this year I thought so too. But that doesn’t justify closing it down by a long stretch.
      And I’m saying from the groceries you buy to the gas in your tank to the water you use to bathe… Everything is subsidised to some extent by State dollars. That’s just how we roll in Trinidad for several reasons.

    • Correct. Agreed. But let’s stop throwing the “racist” label around so easily. If you wish to label a person or two racists, go ahead and make that argument but I think you are too intelligent to make generalizations.

    • Eric, don’t try to mamaguy me. I hear the pain in Indian people’s voices when they talk about calypso. I am championing their cause.

    • Lasana Liburd I am against that ‘way of rolling’. I am for making policy choices based on principle. I am for subsidising the existence of the handicapped, poor people, less bright people, etc. I am against the subsidising of any culture – Calypso, Divali, the IRO. None should get taxpayer’s hard earned money in my opinion.

    • Culture does indeed depends on state support especially in the Caribbean. Who builds the concert halls for the arts? Government partially funds the various philharmonic orchestras in America. The private sector in trinidad and Tobago does not have a history of philanthropy when it comes to the arts. We should have less political interference in Calypso. That’s what we should strive for.

    • Developed nations know full well the value of culture. The United States, Britain, Russia, etc all subsidise it in one way or the other–even, and this is important, when culture is already a billion dollar industry. And I’m talking about sport there.
      We have to be strategic and transparent in how the money is spent and no industry should depend on direct State funds for survival. But it would be wrong to cut funding altogether in my opinion.

    • Russia underwrote ‘culture’ much as the TT govt did and the result was the most god awful excrescences in visual and literary arts. The exact same as in TT, where they pushed that idiocy called ‘Better Village as national culture. A more sterile creation has probably never been spawned anywhere. The US, whose cultural production is the strongest in the world is the opposite. Only 6% of the funding for the NEA comes from state and federal funds.

    • Really, I thought the Russian ballet troupe did quite well. And US taxpayers still fork out for stadia for million dollar basketball and football teams in the US right now.
      But I don’t want to go off on a tangent.

    • I never thought about funding of massive stadia as funding of culture. I regard sports as entertainment and business. I’ll think about that.

    • it was common in the eastern bloc that the national team players all represented the army team, for instance, which gave the State the chance to pay their salaries when the sport they played was amateur.

    • I have a question If I may, all late and wrong. As much as I have seen this discussion over the years since I returned here, it never once occurred to me to ask. but this discussion here…when you have an indian stating they liked calypso when it was good and full of talent. how they are the one who proposed sparrow get his doctorate (I have so much to query on that eh, but), and then how the “pain in indian voices” (I have questions about that too)>>
      BUT this…

      If Niala and others can educate me: but she first please….

      When exactly was it that calypso turned racist???

      I want us to pause and study that to get it correct.
      I even wonder if we need to define racist in this context. that oft use and pelted term when I realize most users have no accurate knowledge of racism.often confusing and mixing up bias, prejudice and racism into one color. but we were never one for critical thinking and information so that might muddy the thing..

      So, what is racism in this context?
      When did calypso and calypsonians turn racist.

      AND, if the posit is true. WHY??

      Why did these before lovely embracing people turn racist at a point and time.

      Questions I am genuinely asking.


    • Maven, perhaps if you don’t believe me when I say I proposed Sparrow get the doctorate, you could ask Max Richards who was PVC at the time. I understand he may not be able to talk at present and the then Registrar is no longer with us, so if you want to say I am lying, it’s fine with me. I don’t usually speak about personal things on FB for that very reason. Secondly, you don’t have to believe me either when I talk about the pain in Indian voices. There were, no doubt, people who believed the slaves didn’t mind being beaten. Indeed, I saw pictures of a carnival band portraying slavery this year, so I guess there are always people who cannot perceive the pain of the victims in a situation. Thirdly, I can’t put my finger on the exact year that the racist crap in calypso began. Maybe it was the 1990s. But what does it matter? You are trying to give me an exam? You can believe me or not. Other people in this discussion have pleaded ‘not all of them are racist’, implying that they know racism has become an element of calypso, but again, if you don’t wish to think like this, it’s fine with me. Regarding your socio-psychological queries about what is racism, I will go back to my earlier analogy. If the masters had asked the slaves, ‘define oppression’ define injustice, define the human soul, define rights, it would have been absurd, not so? If you want to believe Calypsos are not racist, go right ahead. No skin off my nose.

  21. Coca Cola has a formula,so does Chalkdust.Filth was found in Coca -Cola cans in Ireland so let’s wait and see.

  22. Why should he hang up his guns again ? Dr. Hollis Liverpool as the author rightfully stated that he’s has been in town for so long that he has eked out a level of consistency over the years where many a bard are a one hit wonder in the calypso artform.

    It cannot because he won it nine times over forty years means that we should show him the door just for that, in fact if Mighty Blackboard Eraser is confident about his skills he should relish the thought of going up against a grand master. Is it that he and other artistes want a earn the title of Calypso Monarch they will take a win by proxy….that to me tells a different tale.

    • I agree with most of what Earl Best said. I just came to a different conclusion.
      I’d say maybe the judges ought to be rotated or the scoring system altered. But I don’t think a man should be forced to stop working.

    • The judges are indeed rotated….one set for to pick for the semi finals, another set for the semi finals and for the finals. So the chances of collusion are indeed remote what an argument can be made is the age range of the judges perhaps,,,,

    • Perhaps the ages. Or maybe the criteria for scoring should get a look then.
      Which obviously is not to say that we should try to fix the competition so Chalkie can’t win. Lol.

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