Facing the Pic-O-De-Crop judges over the weekend, La-Shawn Charles-Williams looked like a focused woman. It was her first time being judged in the national competition, as a matter of a fact, it was only her third time singing calypso before an audience but you couldn’t even tell. Singing under the sobriquet Caribbean Queen, she didn’t seem intimidated or nervous one bit and she delivered her offering Can’t Blame De Children with much confidence and gumption.
This conviction is probably due to many years of performing karaoke. It’s an activity she adores because of her passion for music and singing.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY, the mother of two revealed that she has been involved with karaoke since she was 20 years old and has won competitions on numerous occasions, including being a two-time Barbados Independences karaoke competition winner in 2019 and 2021.
However, this year, in an effort to step outside the box and demonstrate her versatility she be-lieved it was prudent to jump ten toes into the calypso arena.
“I can adapt to any genre. I’ve proven the same on many occasions. It was a desire within to be a part of the calypso arena doing what I do best and learning from the best,” the 36-year-old said.
And she chose to learn under the influence of veteran song writer and calypsonian Harvey ‘Pop’ Daniel as a member of his Super Gladiators Calypso tent. The support has been over-whelming.
“I would agree that being in this arena is indeed a fresh start but because of my passion for music and willingness to learn it hasn’t been a challenge. It is so amazing that people would still doubt that I’m a first-timer but God knows my heart. I love to sing and I can sing anything as long as I put my mind to it. My talent is natural, with no voice or vocal training, pure as can be. . . . Being a part of the Gladiators tent I indeed felt welcomed . . . never a dull moment in my tent,” she laughed.
Charles-Williams is especially passionate about her 2022 offering Can’t Blame De Children, written by Pop Daniel and arranged by the inimitable Andy Williams, because from the first time she read the lyrics it took her back to her childhood growing up in Guyana. She recalled that when Pop gave her the lyrics it felt like serendipity.
“Pop gave me that song he said, ‘La-Shawn it would be perfect for you’. I really didn’t know how he knew that but it indeed was. . . . Not much of personal experience but [I] shared a neighbourhood with children going through so much. Children raising children because of neglect and abuse. I actually got teary-eyed twice while performing that song. I love children and believe that they should be treated with respect and dignity for they are the leaders of tomorrow.
“From my first rehearsal, I sang that song with pride because of my strong belief that children should at all times be cared for and loved and respected. I too want to add that my arranger did an awesome job arranging my song.
“As Bajans would say, Fluffy do the dog,” she quipped. Charles-Williams will have to wait a little longer before she knows if she’ll advance to the semifinals of the calypso competition but she is proud of her journey thus far.
She said: “From the first time I heard about Pic-O-De-Crop and what it actually meant I wanted to give it a try [and] I told myself that someday I must be on that stage. It is my desire to be a versatile performer which I would even extend to later becoming a songwriter and maybe an arranger.
I’m praying as a first-timer to be a part of the 17 selected to come up against the monarch. The sky’s the limit. there’s no stopping with me. I’m gonna keep pushing until I get there. I love music and music is what I will indulge.”
As for her future, she is a self-dubbed people’s person, one that loves her Caribbean people and in furthering her singing career she wants to be able to tour the Caribbean singing sweet melodies. (KC)