by Donna Sealy
A provocative, and often times controversial calypso commentator, says the time has come to abandon all calypso competitions.
Instead, said Dr. Cleve Scott, who has judged Pic-O-De-Crop competitions in the past, there should be one big party, which he said was what Soca Royale was, with judges.
“It is widely established by now that culture, talent, is a difficult thing to judge especially how you select judges, what is the criteria, what they are looking for and clearly, over a number of years, we are at a loss as to what exactly that they’re judging for and I’m speaking as someone who has judged before… I’m wondering what it is they’re looking for,” he said in an interview with Barbados TODAY last night at Soca Royale.
He added that if judges were looking for four or five people, they were “bringing their own personal biases” and would not “necessarily agree with the majority of persons who are here”.
Scott, who sat on judging panels in 2001, 2002 and 2003, has worked on some of the most popular songs in the region, including Kevin Lyttle’s Turn Me On.
“I helped design that and helped make it marketable, but it is a song that never won a competition in St. Vincent and the Grenadines… When Turn Me On came out everybody wanted to know what it was. Is it a calypso, is it a soca, is it ragga? Competitions existed but we decided here was a song that we’re going to help change the world. So at the end of the day competition … gets people to focus only on narrow aspects.
“You could push the envelope but, unfortunately, they’re a couple of producers around now who believe that’s the beginning and end of it — that the competition, Sweet Soca and Party Monarch, I want to win but … they have to think about the bigger picture,” he added.
His idea to have a big party is not limited to Barbados.
“You might have to decide how you’re going to get persons to enter the party, but this show tonight for me is just a party. Everybody participates to get the equivalent fee so if there is $200,000 up for grabs, divide it between 10 people, 20 people and everybody can come and give their best performance,” he said.
The lecturer at the Cave Hill campus of the University of the West Indies noted that “something would have to be wrong with you” if you think that competition was the beginning and end of everything and contended that judges adhering to the criteria was a problem across the region.
“You have to realise that more and more the songs that are happening regionally and internationally are the so-called sweet soca and ragga soca songs. The up tempo songs, whether they’re from Trinidad, St. Vincent, wherever, these songs aren’t going anywhere now. It is the slow songs that have been making it.
“The fact is that the international market wants slower music. One on One, from Rupee, Ragga Ragga from [Red Plastic] Bag and Mac [Fingall], that’s what they want, they want something they could understand.
“I won’t debate whether [ragga soca] is Barbadian or whatever. The fact is that the slower type of soca has always been the soca that’s been making it internationally. You go back to Arrow, Beckett, Bag, Burning Flames, … the slower songs, because this is what people internationally could associate with. The faster soca is more for at home and New York, Montreal and Toronto,” Scott said. firstname.lastname@example.org