Calypsonians weigh in on change to Carnival competition format

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Reigning Calypso Monarch, Keithroy 'De Bear' Morson. Peetron Thomas, 2022 calypso finalist
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By Carlena Knight

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With just a few days left before the finals of the Calypso Monarch competition, the reigning monarch, Keithroy ‘De Bear’ Morson, shared his views on the change in format of the marquee event.

De Bear, during an Observer AMinterview on Monday, explained that he has mixed feelings.

This year’s contest has a new twist on the venerable show with organisers billing it as one night, two competitions — a social commentary segment and a bacchanal segment.

This means that two winners will emerge from the pack when the finals are held this Friday, with each copping a trophy, bragging rights, and $20,000.

First runner-up in each category earns $14,000; second runner-up $10,000; and all unplaced finalists $5,000.

Morson was speaking specifically about the bacchanal segment.

“It puts me at a disadvantage. I had a second song for the competition already that I had to park because I could not deliver it at that speed. It’s a bittersweet thing for me. I am not one of those persons that can handle that tempo and still deliver the way I want to deliver my calypso,” he explained.

“As you can see, I only made into the semi-finals in that area but for other guys who have been struggling throughout the years and have never made a semi-finals or finals and to see that that section has given them a chance to be on the big stage, then I am really, really delighted for them,” Morson said.

He suggested that the bacchanal segment could have been conducted as a separate competition, leaving the old calypso format intact.

“You can stipulate that we bring something a bit more spicy, but don’t put a measuring stick on it and leave the calypso criteria to where it is. When you take away the points for lyrics for a calypso, you deprive what calypso really is and calypso is really lyrics.

“It’s the lyrics that moves people with a good melody to carry it but I am not one that is going to fight progress. I am not one that is going to fight change. If it is going to move us in a better direction in terms of getting other people in the limelight and so forth, I am for it,” he added.

Meanwhile, Peetron Thomas, a newcomer to the calypso competition, welcomed the change.

Thomas, whose stage name is Peetron, and who was also a guest on yesterday’s show, said that the addition of the bacchanal segment will attract a younger audience to the artform which for many years has been struggling to draw that demographic.

However, he agreed with De Bear that there should be a few tweaks to the criteria for that category, but instead of a separate show, it should remain in the Calypso Monarch competition.

“I would agree with De Bear when he said that the content of calypso is always storyline and I think, even though it is bacchanal and the tempo is faster, that it should have some means of strong storyline still in it.

“It doesn’t have to be a social commentary, but it needs to have a storyline within the song for it to reach even semi-finals,” Peetron said.

Both men will be competing in the social commentary segment of the competition which will take place at the Antigua Recreation Grounds – aka Carnival City – this Friday, starting at 8pm.

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