Judges looking to narrow the field from 36 to 19 at tonight’s calypso semifinals

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The quintessentially Caribbean genre has seen a surge in popularity in recent years (Photos by Johnny JnoBaptiste)
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The task to narrow the field to find the finalists for the 2022 Calypso Competition continues tonight when the semifinals are held at University Centre, starting at 8pm.

The contenders are down to 36 from 72 — 18 in each category — with the judges looking for nine to challenge the 2019 and reigning monarch, King De Bear, in the social commentary round and 10 to vie for the bacchanal crown.

This year’s contest, the first since the Covid-19 pandemic put a two-year pause on the summer festival, is a new twist on the venerable show. Organisers bill it as one night, two competitions. A social commentary monarch and a bacchanal monarch will emerge from the pack when the finals are held on July 29. Each will cop a trophy, bragging rights and $20,000. First runner-up in each section earns $14,000; second runner-up $10,000; and all unplaced finalists $5,000.

Before that, the artistes must return to the battleground with a view to advancing to the finals.

The social commentary round kicks off the night, starting with gospel singer turned calypsonian and relative newcomer Peetron and ending with long-time toiler Supa D.

The order of appearance is Peetron; Richie Francis; Lyricsman; Queen Sammie C; Willie Wawa; Ge’Eve; Stumpy; King Zacari; Queen Gee Bee; Queen Thalia; De Arc; Black Mahdi; King Singing Sudden; Tian; Island Prince; Zocio; Faithful; and Supa D.

The bacchanal round, which hues to the spirit of Carnival, jumps off with soca royalty Tian and wraps up with the versatile Omari, who in the previous eliminations switched his saxophone he played to accompany the other contenders for the competition mic.

The order of appearance for bacchanal is Tian; King De Bear; De Arc; Epic Byke; Kimmy; Ras Kantu; Queen Thalia; Redding; Black Mahdi; Queen Sammie C; Lyricsman; Menace; Faithful; Willie Wawa; Supa D; King Vicious; and Omari.

Speaking about the 2022 competition, Chairman of the Calypso Subcommittee Fitzroy Quinland said the calypsonians have embraced the format, and this has helped to bring the audience back to calypso.

“We remember when the calypso competition was the centrepiece of the festival; and we also know that, in recent years, for varying reasons that we can debate, it slipped with the audiences. The overall theme for Carnival speaks to reigniting the festival, and that has flowed down to the show,” Quinland said.

“This format pulls on the elements that made the show great in the past—the commentary round where people get to drop their take on what’s going on and bring the audience on that journey.

“Then we come back in the second round and jam, because it is, after all, Carnival. From the short tent season and the feedback as we move about, the people welcome this. From the participation of the artistes — the regulars, the newcomers and the crossovers from the soca arena — the calypsonians embrace it too.”

Admission to the semifinals is $20.

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