by Shawn Cumberbatch
It was just a matter of when, not if, Ian Webster would ever win the Pic-O-De-Crop title coveted by Barbadian calypsonians.
The acclamation from fans at Kensington Oval when the Cave Shepherd All Stars tent member was announced the champion in the wee hours of last Saturday demonstrated that they agreed with the judges decision. Webster won the crown on his third try and one year after placing second to last year’s winner Red Plastic Bag, who did not defend his title.
After his outstanding performance of the witty The Things We Do For Love in the first half, it was clear that the competitive field including two former monarchs would have some catching up to do in the second half.
Webster’s commentary on the popular radio talk show captured the imagination even before he sang a note, with his presentation and performance incorporating a “live” call from the Oval to host Ian Cupid Gill.
With clear diction, typically entertaining antics and an overall convincing interpretation of the subject matter, Webster had the audience, and evidently the judges, eating out of his hands.
Sounding sincere in his performance of the inspirational One Blood in the second half, the king-in-waiting had done enough by the time he left the stage to emerge victorious. It was no walkover by any means, however, and while the final points for the competitors were not revealed by MC Mac Fingall, the margin separating first to 10th was unlikely to have been wide.
As is the case with Webster, it seems only a matter of time before Chrystal Cummins-Beckles becomes the second woman to win the calypso crown. Some of the pundits, and even fellow competitors like TC, can brand her a Singing Sandra clone all they want, but only the foolhardy would discount her singing and composition credentials.
Cummins-Beckles performed last on the night, opting as usual to stay focussed on her own contributions, while as usual many of the other competitors focussed on competitors, including her, in their lyrics and presentations.
Her performance of I Ain Giving It Up and One Day were powerful, although in style and substance the second song was reminiscent of her Get On Your Knees And Pray from 2010. Blood can never be counted out of a singing competition, and least of all a calypso contest. On Friday night it seemed almost like déjà vu with his songs, and not necessarily in a bad way.
His Recession in the first half was in a sense a modern day Mr. Harding, and he even dressed similarly to Red Plastic Bag when he sang that winning song in 1982, black top hat and all.
And then there was his performance of Ah Can’t Wait, with the presentation which evoking memories of his winning Sweet Soca one, and the melodious song similar in theme and feeling to his 2006 Crop- Over Coming finals song.
That said, Blood’s performances were among the best on the night. Contrast this with another veteran Colin Spencer, who is by no means flashy and had few frills, but knew what he had to do to get the judging panel’s attention and did just that with I Done Singing Bout Politicians and Parang Fuh Crop-Over.
Spencer was in good singing voice, especially in the second song, and was certainly convincing in getting his messages across. What about young Aziza? Unless you knew she was the lone finals first timer you certainly could not tell based on what transpired on finals night.
There are those, this writer included, who think that based on her performances and those of her competitors, this CO Williams House of Soca member should have placed higher than fifth, as her renditions of Barbados I Pray For You and Guardians Of Calypso were outstanding.
The songs were also strong lyrically and melodious. Unless she loses interest or simply has bad songs, this certainly will not be the last time calypso fans will see and hear Aziza at the final stage of Pic-O-De- Crop.
The other performers on the night were Serenader (Sophony In C Minor and Pulling Down), Sir Ruel (Sir and Gi Dum Wha Dum Want), Adrian Clarke (Thanks Lucy and Leave De Politicians To Me), Mr. Dale (Walkie Talkie and Nobody Business), and TC (Time For A Healing and Masquerade). TC’s performance of the second song twice because of a lighting issue would not have helped her cause.
The order in which this bottom five placed was not given, but like the top five the points margin was unlikely to have been wide, as all of them performed well in what was an overall close competition. firstname.lastname@example.org