By RON FANFAIR
The costumes are becoming heavier and a bit more challenging to negotiate on stage. But, Joella Crichton and Alicia Anderson don’t mind as long as they are winning.
For the second straight year, they captured the Queen of the Bands and the Female Individual of the Year awards respectively at the Caribana King and Queen competition last Thursday night at Lamport Stadium.
Crichton represented Carnival Nationz whose theme was In Full Bloom while Anderson’s costume, Maria: The Samba Dancer, was an element of the Toronto Revellers theme, Brazil: Bacchanal in Rio.
“This was by far the heaviest and largest costume I have carried,” said 22-year-old Crichton who has been playing mas since she was three. “Everything really went well on stage and I think that has to do with confidence after winning last year.”
The York University student, who won last year with Mervyn Skeete and his Toronto Caribbean Connection organization, has appeared in the last five competitions, including 2007 when her costume’s metal frame bent and toppled while she was performing for the judges.
“I have overcome that and am having fun being the Queen,” said Crichton who took part in Trinidad & Tobago’s carnival last year. “That was quite an experience and it prepared me for the last two Caribana shows. I am quite happy with the outcome and certainly looking forward to making it three in a row next year. I just can’t wait.”
Anderson jumped at the opportunity when relative Jamaal Magloire came calling for her to be part of his Toronto Revellers band this year. She won her first crown a year ago with Russell and Jerry Jerome’s The Genesis Carnival Productions.
“The Revellers are a much bigger band and I felt pressure to do well,” said Anderson, an eight-time winner of the Montreal Queen of the Band title and the 2006 Montreal Dancehall Queen performing under the sobriquet, Lady Splitz. “In Montreal, the competition is much smaller with just about three of us competing each year for the title. It’s a whole different story in Toronto with more bands.
“To be honest, I was a bit nervous last Thursday night because of the size and weight of the costume and the anxiety to be representing the Revellers. The wheels were a bit stiff but I managed to move around as I wanted. I am glad that I was able to pull off the win.”
Anderson, who founded and managed Montreal’s first female dancehall group – Mystique Dancers – dedicated the victory to her mother Pat Dillon who is a publicist for the National Film Board and former station manager of CKUT Radio McGill.
“My mom has always been there for me,” said Anderson who has been performing since age three and is the owner of Diva’s Beauty Salon. “She’s my number one supporter.”
Bandleader Dexter Seusahai of Tribal Knights captured the King of the Bands award for his portrayal of King Scarecrow which formed part of his band’s theme, Birds of Paradise. Last year’s winner Martin Scott-Pascall of Toronto Revellers was second while Anton Saldenah of Louis Saldenah’s Mas K-Club was third.
Mista Meggy of the Toronto Revellers clinched the Male Individual of the Year title ahead of Shane Mugal of Tribal Kings and Micah Akal of Mas Toronto and Ron Belfon of Carnival Nationz both of whom shared third place.