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Change at the top! Helon Francis crowned 2018 Calypso Monarch; Voice finishes second

There was change at the top of the calypso pyramid last night as 24-year-old Helon Francis was crowned the 2018 Calypso Monarch with “Changes”—a powerful social commentary about Trinidad and Tobago’s need for introspection and revolution of thought to address corruption and crime in the two-island republic.

Much of the pre-Dimanche Gras final hype focused on the entrance of now three-time International Soca Monarch Aaron “Voice” St Louis, who was attempting to become the first bard to win a soca and calypso title in the same season since David Rudder in 1986.

Photo: Helon Francis delivers “Changes” during the Calypso Monarch final at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain on 11 February 2018.
Francis, 24, sang his way to his maiden Calypso Monarch crown.
(Copyright Wired868)

The 25-year-old Voice was expected to face his fiercest challenge from veteran calypsonians like Sandra “Singing Sandra” Des Vignes, Kurt “The Last Bardjohn of Calypso” Allen and reigning champion Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool.

In the end, it was Francis who blindsided him at the Queen’s Park Savannah as judges gave the new monarch 442 points for his thought-provoking rendition and silken presentation.

Voice was second, scoring 433 points for his positive “Year for Love” while Rondell Donawa, singing “De Problem,” was a surprise third with 427 points.

Performing in 17th position, former Calypso Monarch Duane O’ Connor finished a creditable seventh with “Front Page.” The 2012 Monarch was a late addition to the Finals line-up, a court having determined at the eleventh hour that he should be included after he protested that his Melody score had been unfairly changed in Saturday’s semifinals.

Photo: Aaron “Voice” St Louis performs “Year for Love” at the Calypso Monarch final in the Queen’s Park Savannah, POS on 11 February 2018.
Voice finished second.
(Copyright Wired868)

The full list of placings (points scored in brackets) is as follows:

1.Helon Francis (Changes) (442),

2.Aaron “Voice” St Louis (Year for Love) (433)

3.Rondell Donawa (De Problem) (427)

4.Michael “Protector” Legerton (We could do better than that) (421)

5.Myron “Myron B” Bruce (The Great Nation) and Joanne “Tigress” Rowley (Rowley to Rowley) (419),

7.Duane O’Connor (Front page) (415)

8.Dexter “Stinger” Parsons (Chinese Tuition) and Karene Asche (Song of Inspiration) (413)

10.Kurt “The Last Bardjohn of Calypso” Allen (Circle Square Science) (408)

11.Alana “Lady Watchman” Sinnette (Deadbeat) (404),

12.Selvon “Mistah Shak” Noel (Rebellion) (400)

13.Stacy Sobers (Calypso City) (399)

14.Sandra “Singing Sandra” Des Vignes (Power in Song) (397)

15.Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osouna (Finally) (389)

16. Carlos “Skatie” James (Ah Cutback) (387)

17.Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool (Eulogy) (385)

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44 comments

  1. I am so proud to see that the younger ones are getting a chance to be crowned Calypso Monarch,It is time that the older ones give them ahem chance they should not be competting just being a guest artist st these shows People say Calypsoes dying I don’t think so its alive Congratulations to you Mr Francis keep the Flag flying high

  2. Bye bye Cro Cro Cro Aloes De Fosto time to go

  3. I was actually hoping for Voice to win the Road March.

  4. I didn’t care whether Helon did win or not. Dat was ah boss chune. It was really refreshing to hear de call for people to be introspective. We have ah habit of always looking to others to change our situation. Looking to Government to solve our ills. Basically Helon saying “be de change yuh want tuh see.” Charity begins at home. Look within.

  5. Michael Mondezie (Trinidad Express):
    “Helon Francis, a recent graduate of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) Fine Arts programme, stopped all comers with a soulful call for new thinking, leadership and action amongst nationals in his jazzy ‘Change’…
    “The self-penned and produced Francis, meanwhile, who finished second two years ago in what was his first attempt at the competition, said he plans to craft not just title-contending but long-lasting calypsoes in the years to come…
    ‘I always work hard at my music but I had classes at UTT to worry about. I’ve now gotten the opportunity to sit and craft my music the way I would actually like to craft it. To me this is just the beginning of what I would like to do. God spare life.'”

  6. From Michael Mondezie “Trinidad Express”:
    Earlier, the Calypso Monarch contenders had to suffer through technical sound issues. The acoustics in the Savannah, it has to be said, were horrible on the night. The voices from all performers echoed through the open-air venue and created an annoying reverb that made it hard to hear their lyrics.
    Veteran bard and defending champion Chalkdust suffered most from the poor acoustics. Singing a never-before-heard-song entitled ‘Eulogy’ it was hard to hear what he was saying. His tribute to former president George Maxwell Richards was ineffective not because of a lack of good lyrics or melody but simply cause few understood the message. He finished in last place…

    • “Francis, a recent graduate of the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) Fine Arts programme, stopped all comers with a soulful call for new thinking, leadership and action amongst nationals in his jazzy ‘Change’…
      “The self-penned and produced Francis, meanwhile, who finished second two years ago in what was his first attempt at the competition, said he plans to craft not just title-contending but long-lasting calypsoes in the years to come.
      ‘I always work hard at my music but I had classes at UTT to worry about. I’ve now gotten the opportunity to sit and craft my music the way I would actually like to craft it. To me this is just the beginning of what I would like to do. God spare life.'”

    • While we pontificate and congratulate winners, I ask what is the future of Calypso and by extension the Carnival in general, since according to Martin Daly, there is NO policy for CULTURE. With regards to CARNIVAL its the same annual questions asked. This year the ignorant talk show hosts targeted Calypso Tents urging the government/Culture Minster not to invest in TENTS. Sad to say its one group who always want to end something, while other groups retain and sustain for the next generation. Killing off Calypso is another death knell to the ART form if we follow this nonsensical suggestion, by persons who lack knowledge on CULTURE. One of the criteria to participate in Calypso Monarch is attachment to a Tent. Singing (1) Calypso was a decision made by those in authority. After Carnival the Minister holds a one (1) day postmortem/symposium and its simply a “talk shop” and the same issues arise the following year. I don’t attend Carnival but love pan. Shame on the disregard and disrespect and scant coverage of the various shows. NO MEDIUM size steel bands./ No School pan, yet persons boast PAN is our national instrument. how comical. Which other country does that? The dependency syndrome was created and sustained by ALL GOVERNMENTS with a feeding frenzy for political gain.Yet i say Congrats to ALL pan players (YOUNG people in masses, you played your hearts out) What scintillating music you showered the country with, given the beautiful songs by Calypsonians this year. Why cant the North stand remain around the year and be used for entertainment during the year (August we can have a festival of pan). Last year Top 5 Steelband concert was beautiful.and again young people excelled. PAN TRINBAGO is sitting on a gold mine, but as usual alleged corruption with importunity continue to mar their actions. Yet government pumping money into an organization with no TRANSPARENCY and ACCOUNTABILTY When will the feeding frenzy at the trough end and nepotism cease with incompetence at the helm. How long must we go one this way?
      Carnival is a billion dollar industry and you have to spend money to make money, but it must be done equitably and wean off groups from the dependency syndrome. After 80 years of the OUR CARNIVAL people can’t get it right, Commercialism and elitism is creeping in the mas in subtle ways and NO ONE is listening. Like everything else in T&T when it ceases the blame game will start.

  7. I mean that song Paradise was very special he was a winner since then Calypso in good hands and 1- 3 are youths great!

  8. Congrats should have also won with Paradise.

  9. UTT is turning out some good students on the arts

  10. You deserve it. May God continue to bless you richly.

  11. Congrats to all the young blood time for a some change in the Calypso Monarch.

  12. CONGRATULATIONS! Changing of the guards. Love it!

  13. Congratulations ..the youths has done it. Thank you for saving calypso monarch…fine wine…a breath of fresh air..so proud…
    .

  14. congrats young man, has been knocking on the door for some years, Excellent song. hope people listened.

  15. Congrats, a well deserved win!!

  16. Congratulations Helon. All the youths performed well. Calypso is in good hands. Well done

  17. Congratulations to the winners , the youths in calypso, you all have bright futures in the artform.

  18. Congratulations!!! The future generation of calypso looms promising

  19. Congrats to young Mr. Francis.

  20. Congratulations tight. Show.

    Great performance

  21. Time is a blessing. Change is a anointing . Take a bow Helon Francis love your singing style . Congrats .

  22. Congrats my youth you deserved the win bless up !!!!!

  23. We know his time was coming. Congrats to him

  24. I thought Helon would have been crowned in 2016. But fate decided that 2018 would be his year.
    Well done young man!

  25. Congrats you were the only one I clapped for when you sang. You deserve to win. The Voice was good but you were the best. Congrats again love the way you handled the performance on the big stage

  26. Congrats YOUTH, well deserved!