The fresh-faced Ronaldo London, 21, is Trinidad and Tobago’s new king of calypso, after he defeated 15 contestants to seize the 2019 Calypso Monarch crown last night at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain.
London, who sang last, won the favour of the judges and the audience with Imagination, which copped him the TT$700,000 cash prize. Karene Asche was second with Loco and Broko while 2018 champion Helon Francis finished third with What Coming Next and Maria Bhola placed fourth with False Alarm.
The cash prizes for second place to fourth were TT$400,000, TT$200,000 and TT$100,000 respectively while sixth to 10th pocketed TT$40,000 and 11th to 16th received TT$25,000.
Last year, London did not get further than the Calypso Monarch semifinals with his composition, Tomorrow, and the judges’ decision to omit him from the Big Yard was derided as senseless from calypso activist and Wired868 columnist Eric St Bernard.
There was no stopping the young bard in 2019 though, as he lifted the Young King title—an accolade that his uncle and fellow calypsonian, Brian London, won in 2004—before his ‘tomorrow’ came today, as he was declared calypso monarch at just after midnight.
Not to be left out, London (B) also left the finals with a title as he was crowned Trinidad and Tobago Extempo King last night.
The younger London’s success is further evidence of the resurgence of the art form among the new brigade. Francis was 24 when he beat the 25 year old Aaon “Voice” St Louis to the calypso crown in 2018.
Despite following his elder uncle into the business, London named Grenada-born Anthony “Brother Valentino” Phillip calypsonian—whose unforgettable song, Life is a Stage, remains one of the genre’s greatest hits—as his role model on the stage.
Calypso Monarch results
1. Ronaldo London: Imagination
2. Karene Asche: Loco and Broko
3. Helon Francis: What Coming Next
4. Maria Bhola: False Alarm
5. Devon Seale: Two Face
6. Winston “Gypsy” Peters: When Elephants Forget
7. Kurt “The Last Bad John of Calypso” Allen: Wha Yuh Say
8. Roderick “Chucky” Gordon: El Muro
9. Duane O’Connor: Respect
10. Joanne “Tigress” Rowley: Who Feels It Knows It
11. Erphaan Alves: I Am
12. Stacey Sobers: Make T&T Great Again
13. Anthony “All Rounder” Hendrickson: Where are the Footprints
14. Alana “Lady Watchman” Sinnette-Khan: Pressure Does Buss Pipe
15. Darwen “Pharoah” Greenidge: Formula
16. Alex “Tobago Chalkie” Gift: Travel Advisory