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Still in the kaiso groove

Kiera Shepherd

Still in the kaiso groove

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There are some old faces in the Crop Over Festival’s major music competitions. And they are not necessarily going after crowns.
At least nine calypsonians over the age of 60 years are taking part in the musical side of Crop Over 2013, some for the sheer pleasure, and none of them see their age as a challenge.
Veteran calypsonian Adonijah, 62, who tasted Tune Of The Crop victory in his debut appearance of 1981 with Rock In Ethiopia, just loves the idea of communicating, having something to say and being able to say it.
The member of First Citizens Digicel De Big Show tent said he did not find it difficult to be in the business at his age nor did he think the younger competitors were a threat because of their youth.
“It is all about the work . . . . The only thing the youth can do that I can’t is jump up and down like it is the NIFCA Finals and that does not matter. It is all about the song,” he said.
But he has found that it is harder to please the crowd over the years.  
“The crowd who listens to calypso is the more informed crowd and once you have good material you can please the crowd. It always comes back to the song,” he said.
Naturally, he said, the younger artistes have their own crowd.
“I would hate to find myself performing at Party Monarch . . . . People have good songs but they are at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Adonijah said as he explained why an older singer would find it hard to compete against a younger one.
The festival had to be presented in a way that appealed to everyone and the music did just that, he said.
“It is all about the music,” he said while admitting to be a fan of Lil Rick.
For 60-year-old Trevor Gallon Chase, his age does not hinder his performance as he provides a supporting role in the upcoming Pic-O-De-Crop, Sweet Soca and Party Monarch competitions. He is confident that he can match the energy levels of his younger colleagues, some of whom are his motivation.
“I’m in the tent with all young people and it has me feeling like I’m 30 years old. I don’t feel like they are a threat to me. We’re all in it to win and if I get beat I’ll just write a stronger song for next year!”
His song this year is the awareness song The Big C.
 “I’m singing about The Big C, which is cancer, because people need to be aware about it . . . . But these young people singing about dropping the bumpa and the next day got The Big C,” Gallon said.
Although it is his first time with the House Of Soca, Gallon, who has been in the business over 20 years, explained age is not relevant if you have the right lyrics and melody.
“You can still have a song with a slower beat and be better than someone with a faster one; it’s all about pleasing the crowd with your material,” he said.
At 67, Clairmont Pompey Pilgrim, well known for jiggling his left leg when performing, still finds singing a very easy task. Pompey added that even after more than 30 years in the business it is still easy to please the 30-plus group he caters to.
Still, he admits, it would be challenging if he were to perform for events like Party Monarch – not because of his age, but the genre of his music.
“Our [Pic-O-De-Crop] music is slightly different; songs done for the youth is more for dancing and wining up,” he said.
However, The Big Show performer said he was still happy to see many young artistes entering the industry.
“If the youth were to appear as a challenge to me, I wouldn’t mind, neither would the older calypsonians; we welcome the challenge!” he declared.
Songwriter and performer William Smokey Burke believes he can relate to the youth since he was once their age.
“I was young once and remember the [robust] energy I had. I don’t hold the fact the other contestants are younger against them. I still come to the stage with the same [abundant] energy.”
The Cave Shepherd All Stars tent member who has made it to the semi-finals of the Pic-O-De-Crop believes he has “stuff” he can show the younger artistes.
 “I will . . . always love calypso, it is my first love,” he said after 40 years in the business.

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