Finalists in virtual calypso competition to be announced today

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By Carlena Knight

The 10 finalists who will take the stage in the inaugural Virtual Calypso Competition will be announced today.

They were selected last night from among the 18 calypsonians who registered for the competition which is slated to take place on October 31 at the Dean William Lake Cultural Centre.

The show was added to the events to mark Antigua and Barbuda’s 39th anniversary of Independence, after a scaled down version of this year’s celebration was planned in keeping with Covid-19 restrictions.

Dion Simmons, one of the organisers of the event, explained the selection process for the finalists.

“A panel of judges will get together, listen to the songs and choose 10 finalists for next week Saturday. It was decided that the melody can be a previous song and they can come up with new lyrics or maybe tweak the lyrics to give some relevance to today, and not Independence 15 years ago,” Simmons explained.

“Obviously, we know what’s going on globally with the pandemic, so some of these guys may not be working or may be working days as the case might be, so finances may not be readily available and so scripting a new song, going to the studio to arrange and record, we know that’s the kind of burden we would put on them, so the idea was to use an old song, the melody and come up with something of relevance to today’s independence,” he added.

Simmons also gave a synopsis of the proposed plans for hosting the event.

“It is still a work in progress, but we are planning on not doing a long drawn-out show. We are looking to keep the show within the time frame of three hours or three and a-half hours the most.

“Obviously, we know there is a curfew, so we have to try and keep it within that time frame. I know we were looking at kicking off at maybe around 8 o’clock and going down until 11 or somewhere thereabout,” he said.

“When we meet later on with the Festivals Commission and the judging panel, we will have a conversation and finalise these things, but we are hoping to have some guest appearances so that we can ensure that the fact that we are going virtual and global everything is in place technically and we run through the event.

“We will more than likely do a band break after the first five calypsonians have sung and come back with another guest artiste while the judges tabulate to close the show.”

On the night of the show, each competitor will perform one song.

Simmons, who also chairs the Carnival Calypso Committee, said that although the virtual show is a new venture for the performers, it is not as hectic as the Carnival calypso competition.

He also spoke on the impact he believes this event could have for the country, especially during the pandemic.

“The artform itself is normally something persons always look forward to hear, what stories someone has to tell, where we are for Independence 39 years later. It would be just good to hear who is saying what.

“You know, there may be a bit of controversy; I haven’t heard any of the songs yet, but you always have somebody for or against what is happening in these trying times. It’s something that happens; that is calypso,” he said.

The winner will receive a $10,500 cash prize, and the runners up will also receive monetary prizes.

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