Friday, 27 May 2011 07:20
By Colin Sampson
Antigua St John's - The recently formed Concerned Calypso Promotions (CCP) group is determined to clear away any lingering public perception that it is opposed to or in conflict with the Antigua & Barbuda Calypso Association.
Speaking to Caribarena.com, Chair Edmund “Douglas” Dowdy and Deputy Chair/Chief Organiser-Promoter Yvonne “Lady YB” Benjamin took pains to underline this point.
Formed in 2010, Concerned Calypso Promotions (CCP) is made up of a group of veteran “kaisonians,” writers, producers, and calypso aficionados.
These concerned citizens of the kaiso world have voluntarily dedicated themselves to the complex mission of raising the overall standard of Antiguan & Barbudan calypso, developing new and upcoming artistes, providing a platform by which calypso can be made available year-round, and taking our local version of the venerable art form into the future, as well as to the world.
The members of CCP are concerned that calypso, which has historical and cultural roots that go all the way back beyond the fields of slavery and into the very soil of Mother Africa, may be dying in Antigua & Barbuda. Their heart-held mission is to reverse what they see as a frightening trend and to ensure that the crown jewel of our culture shall enjoy the highest possible status that can be accorded to any component of our national life.
The group just returned from an Easter exchange trip to neighbouring Nevis, where an impressive list of Antiguan & Barbudan calypso talent performed alongside the best that island has to offer. The artistes were backed up by popular Nevisian band Casanova with Brass, and enjoyed an enthusiastic reception.
This Saturday, May 28, will see the return leg of this particular exchange venture, when from 9 pm the Tess Highway Snackette on Herberts Main Road will resound to the rhythms of the Maximum Band with Brass supporting the best of Nevisian kaiso.
Alongside the illustrious team of visiting artistes, calypso fans will be able to enjoy displays by many of the best-known names in Antiguan & Barbudan calypso. On the menu from Nevis will be the reigning King Astro, Baker, Binghi, Flamingo, Gharlic, Hollywood, Meeko, Pupawheeler and Sabu. CCP promises a show that the audience will remember.
The host country will be represented by King De Bear, Douglas, Soca Sandra and Dr Solo, along with veterans Destroyer, Kaiso Joe, Smarty Sr, and Franco. The Mighty Artist will provide his spicy measure of comic seasoning.
Perennially popular radio personality Sly J, who stands as CCP’s official MC and travels with the group, will jockey the proceedings. On Saturday, patrons will be treated to a first appearance by young aspiring kaiso MC Novelle Thomas, who operates under the stage name TOJ.
In the planning stages is the next leg of the exchange series, which will be an appearance of Antiguan & Barbudan calypso artistes in St Kitts. The arrangements are in the hands of the CCP’s Nevisian colleagues. In the meantime, Concerned Calypso Promotions is planning appearances in Barbuda, as well as in other Caribbean islands.
Saturday night’s event at Tess Highway Snackette is significant in that it will also mark the launch of the Concerned Calypso Promotions Revue. The Revue will be the newest addition to the roster of calypso tents that provide a platform for our dedicated calypsonians, enabling them to showcase the fruits of their labour ahead of the Carnival season.
In oblique reference to the recent actions of certain members of the national calypso association regarding registration for Carnival 2011, Douglas appealed to all calypsonians to appreciate that unity is strength. He also pointed out that those artistes who are not so versed in the fine points of the art form should accept their need to be schooled.
He called upon those veterans who have acquired a greater degree of knowledge to be willing and ready to impart their skills to others who are in need of development.
The CCP chair belaboured the point that when performers go on stage for Carnival, their work is streamed worldwide. Viewers form their opinions of our calypso product based on what they see and hear. Calypsonians should therefore spare no effort to ensure that their stage appearances are so polished as to impress the international market, he said.
The CCP is fully in support of efforts by the Calypso Association and President Adelza “Lipstick” Sheridan to work with aspiring calypso artistes from their earliest years. This is essential, the CCP believes, if our national kaiso product is to make an impact on the widest possible audience.
Douglas, strongly supported by Deputy Chair/Chief Organiser-Promoter Yvonne “Lady YB” Benjamin, sees no conflict whatsoever – actual or potential - between the activities of the group he heads and those of the Antigua & Barbuda Calypso Association (ABCA).
Both speakers see CCP as supportive and complementary to ABCA, stressing that developing calypso is a massive undertaking that must consume more time, energy, and resources than the executive of the ABCA alone is able to provide.
The CCP sees that an essential part of its mission must be to strengthen and support the national association in its role of effectively representing calypsonians vis-à-vis the Carnival Development Committee (CDC). Calling for the CDC to abandon condescension, and to display greater willingness to communicate with the Calypso Association, both Douglas and Lady YB decried what they see as an unfortunate adversarial attitude on the part of the CDC.
This, they said, has led to unnecessary friction and a divisive atmosphere that does no good whatsoever to the art form or to the mission of the CDC, which is supposedly to “develop” the Carnival festival.