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Leave one-song policy for semi-finals, NCF

William “Smokey” Burke

Leave one-song policy for semi-finals, NCF

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THE CALYPSO fraternity and calypso fans have been amazed recently at the suggestion that the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) is considering a one-song competition. The majority of calypsonians have come out against it (of course, off the record), while a few have said publicly that they had no problem with it.

As the alleged curator of the developmental aspect of our culture, the NCF has a mandate to ensure that it is pleased with the annual output at Crop Over  and it must be seen as satisfying the thirst or even encouraging it as far as the public is concerned. Yet, the satisfaction of the drivers of the festival, the calypsonians, always appears as an afterthought.

For instance, at an NCF produced stakeholders’ meeting some time ago the issue of deliberation was brought up. The calypsonians present were almost unanimously in favour of a return to this aspect of judging; one calypsonian abstained from a show of hands for this cultural football. Two Crop Overs have now passed and nary a word from the NCF.

Now we are faced with the prospect of a one-song contest. I am part of the group who is against 16 or 18 calypsonians taking part in the final as has been suggested; absolutely against it because I believe that it would cheapen the contest and cause an even lower turnout of patrons due to disinterest.

Yes, I agree that Barbados has more than its share of critics who usually offer no solution to that which they criticise. However, I believe that I do have one solution to the one-song situation that has descended upon us.

For many years now patrons and the NCF itself have complained about the length of the semi-finals. Those involved see it as a necessary evil; it has to be done in order to present a final of the best for each year; 36 songs starting at 7 p.m. on of all days of the week, a Friday. Now any slight delay for whatever reason will push this already lengthy process into the early morning of Saturday, especially when the long wait for the judges’ decision is included.

Here is my solution to this long drawn-out procedure: let the one-song aspect happen at semis. Patrons will listen to 18 songs with the added bonus of pre-entertainment (guest appearances preceding each half) by other popular songs of the day, including those that didn’t make it to the said semis. Now how do we get there? Fairly simple to me.

• Continue with two songs at the preliminary level.

• Give the points after the prelims so that each calypsonian can decide on his own which one song he will render at the semis.

• Change the semis to the Saturday afternoon (3 p.m?) – no rush before or after the event which could be over by 7 p.m.

• Patrons are now treated with presumably 18 popular songs in the contest.

• This stimulates more interest in the semis

• If this change clashes with another NCF major event, let that event take place on the previous and now available Friday evening.

• Another major event can now be scheduled after the semis as patrons are already out and looking for a fete.

• The NCF is still able to have the best at the final as we now revert to two songs with each participant still having the right to change one song if so desired.

I may be wrong and I usually am but am I on to something here?


William “Smokey” Burke