Some familiar faces are missing from this year’s Kaiso 365 calypso monarch final.
Structure (Bryan Thornhill), Redman (Michael Thomas) and Dennis James, who have combined to win nine titles since 2000, are not in the line-up for the Organization of Calypso Performing Artists’ (OCPA) 33rd annual competition on July 26 at the Chinese Cultural Centre, 5183 Sheppard Ave. E.
Redman and Structure are taking a hiatus while James – a three-time winner – is in his native St. Lucia competing in that country’s carnival calypso competition for the first time. He’s in the July 19 final.
Structure, who along with defending champion Macomere Fifi (Eulith Tara Woods) and Beginner (Michael Moore) are the only five-time winners, has been in the final every year since finishing second in his first competition in 2002 just months after migrating from Barbados.
“After 12 years on the trot, I think it’s time to sit back and watch,” said Structure, who is unsure if he will be back next year. “This is the first time since I have been in Canada that I was not judged and it felt odd. Calypso is something I love and I want to be involved in, but I just feel jaded and worn down.”
This is not the first time that Redman is taking a pause from the competition.
After an eight-year rest, he made a triumphant return six years ago to clinch The People’s Choice Award and his first and only crown in 2009.
“I need a rest after being in the last six finals,” he said. “I will sit out this year and assess where I am going musically before making a decision about my future.”
Returning to the competition in 2012 after a five-year break, James – who finished second and fifth in the last two years, said he had to make some modifications in his first competition in St. Lucia.
“The standard is very high here, but I find there are lots of creole in the songs and they are very much political,” said James, who came to Canada in 1972 and retired two years ago shortly after celebrating his 65th birthday. “It took me a while to process what was going on, but I made the adjustments in time for the semifinals. The other thing that was new to me was that songs I did which I thought would go over well in Canada did not elicit the same kind of reaction here. The people would just sit there and look at me.”
The eight finalists who will join Macomere Fifi in this year’s Kaiso 365 competition emerged after the judging of three tents – Kaiso Forum, Professionals and Tropical Rhythms – took place from July 4-6 at two venues in the city.
They are Beginner, Web (Hamilton Alexander), 1995 winner King Cosmos (Henry Gomez), Guney (Guney Cedeno) who won the title in 2000, DeCarra (Leslie Carrabon), Susan G. (Susan Grogan), Yellows (Carlos Morgan) and two-time winner, Panman Pat (Pat McNeilly), who finished fourth last year despite abruptly pulling the plug on his performance midway through his second presentation, “Get off the Fence”.
Connector (Joel Davis) is the alternate.
The top four will share $10,000, while each contestant will receive a $300 appearance fee.
The final starts at 7 p.m. and the price of admission is $40 in advance and $45 at the door.
By RON FANFAIR