2016 was not only a Golden Jubiliee year for Barbados, but for the entertainment sector as a whole, as promoters, producers, musicians, dancers, bandleaders, costume designers and other stakeholders came together to ensure that this year was indeed grand.
In honour of island’s 50th, Crop Over 2016 reflected the theme of national pride.
This was evident not only in terms of crowd attendance and participation at events, but also in terms of this year’s festival offerings.
While it could be argued there was little improvement in terms of the actual content of this year’s Crop Over music, there can be no disputing the fact that the overall production quality went up a notch. In fact, 2016 will go down as the Year of Bashment Soca — that infectious, high-energy form of soca music that simply took over the party scene, forcing Sweet Soca and party music itself to take a backseat.
Not surprisingly therefore, Bashment Soca King Stiffy was the first artiste to drive away with a sleek Kia Picanto motor car at the height of the Crop Over festival. On his way to victory, Stiffy simply had fans following his every command, as he instructed them to Tek Off Something And Pelt It Way.
This command would be repeated over and over during the 12-week festival to the same effect, as frenzied audiences everywhere were mesmerized.
Stiffy was himself overwhelmed by the general crowd response.
“It has been a long journey and we now got work to do. I will not stop until they recognize star quality entertainment around the world,” he said immediately after his July 15 crowning at Kensington Oval before a near capacity crowd.
Queen Aziza was moved to tears after she secured the Calypso Monarch title.
Fittingly, the title of one of her winning songs was Bring Back Respect, as she became the first woman to lift the coveted crown since Queen Rita won the title 28 years ago.
However, even more popular was her One People, One Nation song, through which she proclaimed an important unity message in Barbados’ 50th year, and which was adjudged the best nation-building song of the competition.
Patriotic songs also reigned supreme in this year’ Sweet Soca and Party Monarch competitions, which were won by Edwin Yearwood and Lil Rick respectively.
Edwin showed why he is called The General, as he secured the Sweet Soca title for the second year in a row with Home Sweet Home. With its catchy lyrics and sweet melody, Barbadians at home and abroad would soon be singing along in unison; so too Lil Rick’s Iz a Bajan, which still continues to whip everyone into a frenzy.
In keeping with the Golden Jubilee theme, costume band designer Gwyneth Squires was not only successful at embodying the spirit of the year-long Independence celebrations, but she also copped the lion’s share of awards on Grand Kadooment Day, including the 50th Anniversary Independence Award.
This year, 12 cultural arts practitioners were among 50 Barbadian greats singled out for their outstanding contributions to the island’s development over the past five decades. They are Charles Austin, Kenneth Blackman, Pat Brathwaite, Anthony Gabby Carter, Michael Cummins, Anthony Tony Grazette, Anthony Hinkson, Peggy McGeary, Richard Phipps, Jill Walker, Wayne Poonka Willock and Stedson Red Plastic Bag Wiltshire.
Immediately after he accepted his award at the Prime Minister’s Dinner and Ball on November 25, a beaming Red Plastic Bag reflected the mood of the entire group of honourees when he told Barbados TODAY it was a special moment for him.