By. St.Clair Sazam Hull
I was sitting in the memorial Square in Charlestown a few days ago, sharing a light moment with a relative of mines, when one of Nevis’ local calypsonians, interrupted our laughter with a bit of scary comedy.
He was of the tenacious belief, that all local judges should be barred from judging the calypso monarch contest. His argument was based on the premise, that judges from the homeland will under no circumstances exercise impartiality and fairness. It is a possibility that his perspective had to do with the fact, that he has never been placed in the top three (3) before and on numerous occasions missed the grand finale.
Judging calypso is a very contentious issue every year, but I think is has been blown out of proportion. Regardless of the disparities that surround the scores, it might not be the fault of the judges but the fault of the calypsonians themselves, who select judges based on their own feelings. It is a fact, that some calypsonians have problems with local judges for no apparent reason, but just to follow friends. Some have chastised judges publicly, knowing fully well there is always a question mark in regards to their ability to put over a good calypso.
I want to also make it clear, that judges have a responsibility to give an account for their decisions. They must be able to justify how they come up with certain scores, because their scores and comments must be seen as the future development of the artist. They must be honest when indicating to the authorities, whether they are fully prepared and ready to judge the art form. They should not be pushed into it, but to say they should be completely eradicated from judging is beyond ridiculous.
The calypsonians are their own downfall, and not the judges because when our calypso competition was one of the best on planet Earth with the likes of ‘Meeko, Chaplet, Bhingi, Dis n Dat, Reflector, Lord Cam, Ginger, Duke, Flamingo’ and others there was never any request for overseas judges. A little bantering a few days after ultimately transpired, but the artists would move on and prepare for the following season. But now that the art form has lost its way, where some calypsonains, with countless things happening locally, regionally and internationally cannot come up with two competitive calypsos, they are calling for overseas judges. It really baffles me.
In those days, one would have to be at the final very early in order to get a sitting space, because of the rivalry and of the show’s high standards. The competition today is nothing what it used to be. Today, the quality of the show cannot even attract enough people to half-fill the Cultural Complex. To be honest, people are not satisfied with the product and instead of trying to improve on their product, they are blaming judges for their shortcomings. They should try their endeavor best to bring back that rivalry to pique interest once again.