There will hardly be any duet performances in the 2015 Party Monarch and Sweet Soca Crop Over competitions.
This was all but decided last night at a meeting of the island’s calypso tent managers and performers, other songwriters and musicians and officials of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) at the Steel Shed, where they thrashed out a number of NCF proposed rule changes, of which final decisions will be announced shortly.
And, jumping the queue of issues to be discussed because of a prior engagement, Mighty Gabby put in a mouthful on the state of the 2014 judging.
NCF chief executive officer Cranston Browne pointed out that in the current rules for Party Monarch and Sweet Soca competitions, a few contestants could use various duet combinations and solo stints among themselves to their advantage.
“You can actually have a situation where you can have as little as three or four persons actually competing or reaching the finals of these competitions . . . and it would actually lead to the ridiculous.”
But historian and veteran calypso judge Trevor Marshall led off the debate on this NCF proposal with queries about human rights, and restriction of trade.
One contributor said the current rules made it difficult for the MC, as the same contestant exiting the stage could be the next performer. Another argued that it forced someone else out of an opportunity or position because one person was occupying more than one of the allotted places.
Stedson RPB Wiltshire, said: “I can live with entering the competition as a solo act or as part of a duet, but you should only be chosen as one . . . . Either as a solo act or as part of a duet, but not both. We’ve had situations in this competition where the monarch competed against himself. It is madness.
“There is no way that you should enter a competition to dethrone yourself; you are a defending monarch.”
Pic-O-De-Crop winner Ian Webster agreed with Bag’s overall position, but wondered what happened when the performer in the solo act scored the same points as in his duet performance.
Debate on this rule change ebbed and flowed until positions of those supporting the change seemed to gain the edge.
At his second attempt to bring forward the agenda and air his grouse, Gabby swept aside protocol and declared: “One of the reasons that we have problems in our competitions is judges who should not be judges. This year in the Pic-O-De-Crop we had five out of seven judges who are piano and violin-trained . . . . That is a monumental mistake. You cannot have that nonsense happening again.
“Secondly, since Sweet Soca and all those other competitions, Plastic Bag and Biggie Irie were the only persons singing in key; all the rest out of key. NCF judges obviously had to know they were out of key from ever since.”