Who would have ever thought that being a calypsonian, soca or bashment artiste could become such a viable career option?
Well, it definitely has.
Back in the 80’s and 90’s, parents were concerned with only one thing; school work for a “good job”, usually the professions.
Parents pushed their children to be either doctors or lawyers, seemingly believing those two jobs were the only ways their children could “be successful” in life.
Athletic ability was often ignored, artistic creativity was seldom acknowledged and those children who did not excel at English or Mathematics were deemed, dunces.
Extreme pressure was put on passing the 11-Plus Exam, and if a child failed to achieve the scores which would get them into Harrison College, Queen’s College or Combermere, they were chastised.
It never dawned on parents back then that there were myriad other options which could afford their children a comfortable living.
Fast forward to 2019 where 18 calypsonians will hit the stage at Kensington Oval on August 2, for a chance at winning either $100 000 cash or a fully loaded SUV.
That is a drastic increase in cash from just one year ago when Blood walked away with $10 500 cash and a vehicle.
The winner of the Yello International Bashment Soca competition will take home $60 000 in cash and additional prizes.
Let’s also consider the hefty prizes awaiting the winner of The One Soca Monarch competition.
Last year, Lil Rick copped $80 000 for winning the Bashment Soca competition.
In addition, the veteran performer also won three other titles; the Sweet Soca, Road March and Jam Tune, which took his winnings for that year over the $150, 000 mark.
The countless Crop Over fetes, parties, cruises, and other events also afford artistes with ample opportunities to earn performance fees.
When you take a look at some of the prize monies offered by international competitions in Trinidad and Tobago, they are much higher.
Mr Killa, the winner of this year’s Power Soca category in the International Soca Monarch competition, won TT$1 million (US$148,500) the.
Swappi won the Groovy category and walked off with TT$500,000 (US$74,250).
Being an entertainer or an artiste can no longer be seen as merely a hobby.
For those parents whose children have expressed an interest in being an artiste or in taking part in competitions such as the Junior Monarch, support and encourage them on their journey.
This is where the foundation is laid and the groundwork is built for success, too
This is in no way underscoring the importance of earning an education, as parents and guardians must always encourage their charges to reach for the stars not only academically, but also in whatever they do.
But, the world is changing and no longer can we pigeon hole our children into believing there are only a “few select jobs” where they can be successful.
There are numerous examples of Barbadian artistes who have turned what was once seen as a hobby into flourishing careers.
Red Plastic Bag, Lil Rick, Edwin Yearwood, Mikey, Blood, Alison Hinds, Biggie Irie, Rupee and more recently Leadpipe and Saddis, have all made their marks felt both locally and abroad.
For the next few months during our Crop Over Festival, our artistes will take centre stage.
They will have the opportunity to showcase their talents to the world and make a name for themselves.
Long after Crop Over is finished, those artistes who have impressed leave these shores for greener pastures, their services having been requested by those far and wide.
They deserve our respect, as cultural professionals