The emergence of a new brigade in this year’s Pic-O-De-Crop competition has delighted many veteran performers who are hailing the development as an encouraging sign that the future of calypso is in good hands.
This year, four former junior monarchs Ah-Dee-Lah, Aziza, Sammy G and Sir Ruel and a newcomer Jamal Slocombe are among the 18 semifinalists who are hoping to secure a spot in the finals.
Two-time monarch Ian Webster and reigning monarch Classic both believe that this development augurs well for the future of the artform on the island.
Webster, who won back-to-back crowns in 2013 and 2014, told Bajan Vibes he was previously concerned about juniors not transitioning and he was now happy to see the five in the semifinals this year.
“They are definitely not juniors anymore. They would have graduated from the Junior Monarch programme. It augurs well for the future because a few years ago, looking at the fact that there are not a lot of persons who are leaving the realms of Junior Monarch and transitioning into the senior competition, but having the five of them in the competition this year speaks volumes for what is happening at the junior level . . . . Essentially the thinking of the persons involved in the programme now is like, ‘I want to leave Junior Monarch and I want to get into the senior ranks as opposed to, ‘I dun with this Junior Monarch thing’, and I find something else to do,” he said.
Webster added that all around it was a good look. “So it’s a good look for Junior Monarch and Barbados’ calypso in terms of a continuum and looking at persons who will carry this genre into the future,” he said.
Reigning monarch Classic, who also started performing from a young age at 17, said he was elated to see so many young people in the Pic-O-De-Crop competition.
“I’m happy for them. The artform must continue. It must make a transition from seasoned artistes to the youth. Good to start from young. Gives you a chance to learn and develop. Happy to see them in social commentary and doing it at a high level. It is very encouraging and augurs well for the future. It’s good that they can learn the skills from early. I encourage a lot more to get into it. Always good to see a young mix and I take my hat off to them,” he said.
The defending champion even offered some advice to the young ones in the competition.
“Everything depends on what they do on the night. Don’t allow yourselves to be consumed. Don’t let the competition stifle you. Enjoy your performance and have fun. Once you do that, it will transfer to the patrons and judges. Don’t try too hard. Just have fun,” he told them.
Classic also urged them not to give up if things don’t go their way.
Another former monarch Adrian Clarke also told Bajan Vibes he was glad to see so many young people in the mix.
“It’s a great look. I longed for this day. Time after time, we have them coming out of the junior competition and only a couple continuing through to the senior level of calypso. The future is looking great and it can only encourage other young ones to participate and continue through the junior ranks. I am loving it,” he said.