The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory!
And if anyone can attest to this, it’s this year’s Pic-O-De Crop Monarch Ian iWeb Webster who says the journey to his third calypso title was by far his toughest to date when compared to his previous victories in 2013 and 2014.
On the way to securing the crown, iWeb had to fend off a very strong challenge from veteran entertainer Edwin Yearwood you ended up being his closest rival last Saturday night during the staging of the Pic-O-De-Crop finals at Kensington Oval.
And while still basking in his victory, iWeb praises Edwin for helping him to raise his game.
“The degree of difficulty involved and the thoroughness with which I had to execute my performance that was largely due to the presence of Edwin,” he told Bajan Vibes in an interview this week.
“Knowing how he [Edwin] competes in terms of being a fierce competitor and is a fantastic singer. He knows how to perform, he knows how to win. I always compete hard but having him in competition I had to really go the extra mile this toss,” he added.
In terms of his actual preparation for the competition, the reigning calypso monarch said he spent two weeks putting together his presentation.
“It was a whole team of people around me that made this production happen. We just tried to think outside the box and do things people wouldn’t expect you to do,” he said, adding that he was going for “a wow factor”.
However, to add to the pressure of competition, iWeb faced some unexpected medical challenges. A week before the big final, he was still struggling to get over an asthma attack that forced him to pull out of the popular Bacchanal Time versus the Best of Crop Over show on August 2 and 3.
“So it was a challenging week for me. I had to fight through and get myself back together, so this one was hard,” he told Bajan Vibes.
“I wasn’t thinking about competition. I was thinking more about being able to breathe properly. My immediate concern was making sure I could get back to my normal self as quickly as possible, [but] even though I wasn’t well I still wanted to be prepared,” he added.
This year, iWeb didn’t make it to the finals of the Sweet Soca competition and he didn’t enter the Party Monarch or Bashment Soca contests, which are three of the annual Crop Over highlights.
In hindsight, he said being out of the other competitions might have been “a blessing in disguise”.
“On the week I got sick, it was the Tuesday leading up to Soca Royale. So if I had gotten into the [finals of the Sweet Soca] competition I would not have been able to compete at Bushy Park. But [this year I was able to] just focus on that one competition and the season ended well for me,” he added.
After putting down two very solid performances at the Kensington Oval last Saturday, the seasoned performer, amassed 108 points to capture the coveted calypso crown for a third time, dethroning Queen Aziza in the process.
Singing Salesman and Pray For the Souls, iWeb who entered the competition as a crowd favourite had calypso lovers simply eating out of his hands by the end of the night as he not only lifted the prized trophy, but also claimed the keys to a spanking new Nissan X-Trail, valued at $125, 000.
Reflecting on his performances, iWeb said he was thankful that everything went according to plan, especially with Salesman, which simply brought the crowd to its feet.
“The idea of the snow cone cart came to me the very last night of tent after semifinals. I was thinking of how to present [Salesman] in a unique way that the people could identify with.
“I was sitting talking to [ten-time calypso monarch Red Plastic] Bag and I told him I had an angle for it. I didn’t tell him what it was though,” he said, adding that very early on the 2017 Crop Over season he had also determined that if he made it to the finals, he would do something “very celestial” with Pray For The Souls.
“The response to Salesman was overwhelming. For the Souls is not a jump out of your seat tune, it’s something to make you sit and think about the fragility of life and being cautious on the roads. I didn’t expect people to be jumping out their seats, I expected them to sit and absorb it and that’s what they did,” he added.
Still, it came down to the decision of judges and though quietly confident at the end of the competition, iWeb retained his composure until the final announcement was made.
“I’m not presumptuous, but I know the energy on ground was saying it’s between me and Edwin. Quietly, I was hoping my name would be called, I was quietly confident [and after] hearing Edwin’s name called for second place, I was saying there was a pretty good chance I could win,” he said with a chuckle.
For the moment, rest and relaxation are at the top of his list after a hectic season for this professional teacher.
“I’m happy and contented. It was a lot of hard work and it’s just a matter of enjoying the fruits of my labour now. At the moment I need a vacation, so I’m looking to fly out. I just want to rest for the next two weeks or so and come down [from the current high from winning] with school starting back in September,” he said.
As for his new Nissan Xtrail, iWeb, who already owns a Suzuki Grand Vitara, is still weighing his options.
“I think it’s a very nice vehicle. And it’s a very good prize to win. I’m thankful for it.
I’m going to sit down with my family and we are going to plan exactly what we are going to do,” he said.
However, there’s another prize he intends to take immediate advantage of. It is the opportunity to pursue a Management Studies degree at Barbados Institute of Management Professionals – BIMAP.
“I’m particularly excited about that so I want to start that as soon as I get back. That’s where my head is right now. But I want to get some rest, have some fun, then get back to work,” he said.