Seven-time Pic-O-De-Crop calypso monarch Anthony Mighty Gabby Carter is calling for an increase in prize money for the winner of the annual competition, in light of the relative riches enjoyed the International Bashment Soca winner.
The Pic-O-De-Crop competition is regarded by many as the most important and high-profile Crop Over cultural contest, without which the annual summer festival would be sorely lacking.
However, the monarch rarely receives a substantial cash prize, unlike the much newer Bashment Soca contest – rebranded this year as the International Bashment Soca competition, which began in 2015 with a first prize of $50,000, that was increased to $80,000 this year.
By comparison, last year’s calypso monarch received a Nissan X Trail from Courtesy Garage valued at $125, 000, full comprehensive insurance from Cooperator’s General Insurance valued at $11,000, a trip for two on JetBlue Airways, a staycation at Divi Southwinds, along with other prizes.
Gabby told journalists today on the sidelines of the Scotiabank Junior Monarch draw, this made little sense, contending that the Pic-O-De-Crop monarch was being shortchanged.
“This car has been going on for about ten million years and when you go to Bashment and you give $80, 000 . . . as a first prize, what really is that?” the legendary calypsonian asked.
His comments came on the heels of the announcement by 2017 Pic-O-De-Crop monarch iWeb, that he was unsure of defending his crown this year.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY, the three-time monarch expressed some discontent with the prize money, saying: “You win, you sell the car, you have you cash . . . and that is it.”
Gabby contended that not only were calypso monarchs being forced to become car salesmen, they had to sell the vehicles at reduced prices.
More attractive prizes, he said, would lead to an influx of new artistes, as well as the return of seasoned veterans to the social commentary stage.
“When you go and give somebody a car and $10, 000 or $15, 000 that is peanuts, that is foolishness . . . . The calypso monarch deserves $200,000 [in cash] as it adds value to the country. In terms of everything else, it far supersedes Bashment,” Gabby maintained.
“It is a very important component of the whole Barbados economic landscape so you must value it in that way and value artistes and value culture,” he stressed.
He said Government should foot the bill for the contest, and not the National Cultural Foundation or the sponsors, as Barbados reaps tens of millions of dollars from the three-month-long Crop Over festival.
At the same time, the cultural ambassador bashed the growing bashment soca genre, arguing it had no export potential and would fail to grab an international audience in the manner that classics such as his own hit song, Boots, or Ragga Ragga by fellow multiple winner, Red Plastic Bag, did.
The lyrical maestro bluntly stated that the genre, which is in its embryotic stage, “can’t get past Culpepper Island in its present form”, while describing it as “six-week music” which showed no diversity in subject matter, and possessed little melody.
“Bashment is now beginning, nobody knows if it is going to become a pygmy baby and don’t move from where it is or if it is going to grow into something fantastic . . . but in its present stage it is a six-week music, where it becomes popular for six weeks and then you stash it away. No singer wants his song to last for [only] six weeks. We want the song to last for years or decades so that generations to come will look at it and say, ‘wow, yes!’” Gabby said.
“There is no movement of the subject, it is constant . . . woman, bumpa and rum, and some go as far as to say, ‘hands in the air’ . . . and after that there is nothing else happening.
“In order for the music to reach outside of Barbados, outside of St Vincent, St Lucia . . . there needs to be a focus on melody that can be played with one instrument,” the former monarch advised.