This is his first year in the semi-finals of the Pic-O-De-Crop competition and he will be first out the blocks at the National Stadium come Friday night. Twenty-year-old Jamal Slocombe, however, is not daunted.
In fact, his plan for semis night is quite clear: to do all he can to make it through to the finals and end the 2016 festival season in that number one position as well.
Reflecting on the night when he found out he was among the 18 calypsonians going forward to vie for a spot in the final, Jamal told Bajan Vibes he is still numb and letting the reality sink in.
“It was overwhelming when I first received the news. I was at an event just around 3:30 a.m. when I found out and I just started to jump-around in glee,” the young entertainer said.
“My friends were very happy also because they all knew I was a bit uneasy just waiting for the results. I was extremely ecstatic.”
Jamal told Bajan Vibes he used last year as a tester in order to become familiar with the calypso arena. He did not make the semis then but he took whatever lessons and advice he received and put them to good use in preparation for this year.
“I spent some time preparing over the last 12 months working with Chris Allman, and researching the roots of calypso from Lord Blakie to Tambu and obviously expanding my knowledge with our home grown talents such as Bumba and Sir Don, even Lord Radio whom I had the pleasure of actually sharing the stage with at his last concert before retiring.”
In an interview, a confident Jamal made it clear he is not at all daunted by the fact that he will be performing first on the big stage Friday night. His plan is to bring his A-game, in the hopes of matching up to the veterans he will be competing against.
“I am not scared. I am performing at number one and I am expecting at the end of the competition I will be number one. I am humbled by the opportunity to even be in a circle of familiar faces such as Adrian Clarke, Colin Spencer and Chrystal Cummins-Beckles but I am also cognisant of the fact that this is anyone’s game, and anyone’s victory.
“I am prepared to set a standard for the night, and make it difficult for my fellow competitors to reach. I am putting the Almighty God at the forefront and allowing him to direct my path,” said Jamal, who is promising fans and supporters a show they will never forget.
He revealed that his secret to remaining so calm is not to treat the semis as a competition.
“There is a saying, you are as good as your last performance. Well, I am going to perform like this is my last performance. I am going to leave my heart and soul on that stage.
“Yes, it is a competition but I am not even affixed to that aspect. I am going to entertain and engage my audience, those who loyally support me so that they can have a great time.
“No matter what the result is, I will be contented that my supporters were pleased with my performance,” he added.
Jamal said not only does he have the support of loyal fans, but support from veterans in the industry also helped to keep him grounded and to keep the naysayers at bay.
“I have so much support, it is unbelievable,” he said. “TC is there and she has been the most helpful person around. She’s constantly giving me advice and it means so very much to me, especially because I remember attending De Big Show as a child and being fascinated with her talent.
“My Big Show family is also very supportive, from Merle Niles to my big brother Mistah Dale. Dennis and my team have been the backbone, from Red Plastic Bag giving me advice and John King calling and walking through the rubric with me,” Jamal added.
Once he performs his two songs Be a Politician and New Normal well on Friday night, as he did in the tents, a finals spot for Jamal should not be hard to come by. He is confident the two songs are good enough to take him all the way.
“The first one Be A Politician was written by John King and arranged by Chris Allman, and the second New Normal was written by Red Plastic Bag and arranged by Nicholas Brancker. They are two well-penned songs,” Jamal explained.
“I have the pleasure to sit with my old music teacher, Johnny Koimen, in about February and we conceptualized the first one that John later composed. They are tailored to engage a younger audience but captures all the elements of riveting and authentic kaiso.”
He added: “I’m just putting my trust in God. There is a song that goes, ‘many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand, but I know who holds the future and I know who
holds my hand’. I am committing myself to His work, and asking Him for guidance.”
All the best to Jamal in the semi-finals.