Eight calypsonians vie for semifinal spots in Vincy Mas

Rejector sings ”Mash Up D Place.”
Photo by Nelson A. King

Eight calypsonians from the Brooklyn-based Dynamite Calypso Tent, the lone Vincentian calypso tent in North America, Saturday night competed for a place in the semifinal round in the Calypso Competition in Vincy Mas, the national carnival in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Though renowned calypsonians, such as former National Calypso Monarch D Man Age and Oscar James did not compete in the preliminary round, veterans, such as Carlos “Rejector” Providence, Dennis Bowman, John “D Truth” Dougan, Jose Juan and Delahanty Isles sought to get the judges’ nod for the semifinals in the “Big Yard,” Victoria Park, in Kingstown, the Vincentian capital.

Other competitors were: Al Wilson, Persona and Hamlet.

Providence, the president of the Dynamite Calypso Tent, told Caribbean Life that D Man Age, D Man Ants, Oscar James and Hilton Duncan did not compete Saturday night.

He said D Man Age opted out; James had a family emergency; and Duncan, the newest tent member, resides in Canada and could not get to New York on time to compete.

Providence also disclosed that the competition started 2 ½ hours late because of issues with management at the venue, Palace Hall, located at 713 Nostrand Ave., between Sterling Street and Park Place in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

He said, while the proprietor assured that members of the tent could enter the venue at 5 p.m. for sound check, among other things, they were denied access at that time and were told “we cannot get in until 8 p.m.” The competition was originally scheduled to begin at 9 p.m.

Providence told the audience at 11:30 p.m.: “We do apologize for the late start. It’s way beyond our control.”

Nonetheless, despite the hiccups, calypso fans, for the most part, were relatively patient with the very late start. And the eight competitors did not disappoint, as they gave a very good account of themselves, offering lively and sound renditions.

Wilson, the lead vocalist with the defunct Vincentian band Asterisks, offered “Seduction,” singing: “So, you light a fire/You then turn me on.”

Adorned in a shining outfit and dancing “Michael Jackson-style,” Persona told fans to “Get Something to Get Something” after observing a moment’s silence for “those we lost along the way.”

Then, at calypso-end, he told “the woman” to “pack yo bag and go.”

Persona sings ”Give Something to Get Something" during the the semifinal round in the Calypso Competition at the Brooklyn-based Dynamite Calypso Tent.
Persona sings ”Give Something to Get Something” during the the semifinal round in the Calypso Competition at the Brooklyn-based Dynamite Calypso Tent. Photo by Nelson A. King

“This brother is interesting. I won a crown before – just the outfit alone make me win the crown,” mused Hercules, Grenada’s 2024 New York Independence Calypso King, who served as co-Master of Ceremonies with Vincentian Hailes Castello, immediately after Persona’s performance.

In last year’s preliminary round, Persona was obsessed with “Sarah,” stating that she was “driving me crazy.”

Jose Juan tells "Tale of a Legend.”
Jose Juan tells “Tale of a Legend.” Photo by Nelson A. King

Jose Juan received huge applause from the crowd after the “Tale of a Legend,” prompting Castello, who was drafted in, at the last minute, as co-MC, to remark: “Nice, nice, nice?”

A perennial favorite in semifinal and final rounds in Vincy Mas, Dennis Bowman asked “Where’s the Culture,” singing: “We used to know/Where did it go/Without a cultural foundation/The country is vulnerable.”

After aborting his performance twice because the back-up music was either too loud or not in sync with his rendition, Rejector, a former Calypso Monarch in Vincy Mas, eventually sought to “Mash Up D Place.”

Alternating between fast and slow rhythms, Rejector sang that, with “All this mashing up/We mash up each other.”

With, perhaps, the loudest applause of the night, Isles, the lone woman competing for a semifinal spot in Vincy Mas from the Dynamite Calypso Tent, urged to “Go Back and Sing,” stating that “You’re making a cultural contribution.”

“Sweet SVG (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) belong to all ah we,” she sang. “You all have a role to play.”

Adorned in graduation gown and cap, Hamlet urged his audience to “Try,” telling them: “With all the intelligence and obstacles we still face/Laziness get you no place/Reach for the stars.”

D Truth also urged to “Plan for the Future” and “eradicate the crime,” adding: “Remember the old teaching/Now start doing the right thing.”

“Plan for the future/If you see something/Say something/We must do whatever we can,” he stressed.

Calypso aficionados were also entertained by guest performances from, among others, St. Lucian calypsonians Exposer and Fireman Mitch.