by Latoya Burnham
Latoya Big Brown Eversley has been waiting three years to win a crown.
And when she walked away with the Barbados Port Inc.’s Calypso Monarch title over the weekend, it was like a dream come true. The only thing that can top it now, is a repeat next year.
The first year she entered the now five-year-old competition, Big Brown did not place but received a participatory prize. Last year she began writing her own material and it landed her in third position.
“Last year I placed third and the year in front I just got a consolation prize. Last year was the first time I wrote my own song. It was a party tune too, but I was late on it and getting it arranged and stuff [was the challenge]. Getting time from work and then you have to leave work and get to the arranger and all of that is in your time, so it was really tiring. It didn’t come off how I wanted, well it came off because I placed third, but not how I wanted,” she confessed, trophy still clutched tight in her arms after the competition on Friday night.
So she had her recipe – write her own song, get it arranged and perform it as best as she could. It was a journey that started back in May when she began working on her material for this year.
“I usually like to go [with a topic] for the season and I listened to all the Crop-Over songs this year and I was like ‘What? I got better material than this.’ It is a fun calypso competition so I just decided to write a song about Crop-Over because people like they ain’t really feeling it no more. So I said no social commentary, not this year. I have to come with my party tune.”
Big Brown actually wrote another song called Chester first. She even had her arranger Carl Winters working with her on the song, but she really was not feeling that this was the song to win her the crown. So, she started again.
“I say no, I can’t sing this song. Then I had my posse backing me too; so I sat down at work and I put together two verses in like half-an-hour and the other ones just come just so.
“So I started singing it and my arranger went and he said this is for you; I don’t like that social commentary for you. So I went with it and I had a good time. I enjoyed myself on stage, I had my posse backing me and them is my inspiration to keep going and going and don’t stop.”
The title of her winning piece this year was My Time Of Year, which she emerged on stage in a shiny black poncho like covering to deliver. But during the course of the song, with a swift move behind a screen, she executed a seamless and timely costume change to reemerge in a colourful carnival like costume complete with headdress to render the tune.
“Tonight [Friday] was the first time that I went up there and actually did this [the costume change]. I didn’t even know if it would come off, but I knew I had enough time in my song that I could have gotten it done. I wasn’t worried.
“My designer, Fantastic Fashion and he worked with me well. I actually was supposed to go on third, but my costume came late, but it was worth it. It was worth it,” said a smiling Big Brown.
Her presentation delighted the crowd and left them screaming for more, with her own following dressed in colourful Big Brown shirts and waving rags and placards of support. It was when she completed her song and left the stage that she said she realised she had won it.
“This year I worked really hard, like from May on both songs and it paid off… From the time I came off the stage and I heard the crowd, and I knew my song by heart, so I know I wasn’t going to forget nothing. I knew I wasn’t going to forget nothing. From the time I heard them [the crowd] I knew this was mine.”
Her children and family were the added fuel to make her even push harder this year and they were at the Port to see her “crowned”.
“They are here looking on and I won’t tell you a lie, my kids know my songs by heart – all two – by heart. Even my last daughter and she is only two years old and when I heard her singing it in the house, I was like yeah. So my kids and my family are like backing me 100 per cent and also my coworkers.”
What has kept Latoya Big Brown Eversley returning to the competition for the past three years is not only the idea of winning a title though. The clerical officer from Terminal Operations understands the impetus behind the initiative and having been employed with the Port for just a month shy of 14 years, she is for it 100 per cent.
“It’s fun for me, it is not only seriousness. It is bringing the Port together. We have a lot of segregation in the Port, so this competition is really bringing us together as a company and I like it and I ain’t dropping out for the world…
“This is my third year. So hopefully next year again I will be bringing this home again.”
But already her mind is on a different possibility as well for next year, thanks again to her “posse”.
“My posse is backing me to enter the tents but I don’t know if I gine be ready for that big stage thing, but I gine think about it. It is not impossible, I gine think bout it, and actually I am going to start writing from as soon as possible, probably next month and get some material out there,” said the new reigning monarch. firstname.lastname@example.org