Chrystal Cummins-Beckles has been called a songwriting machine, a melody machine, and a hit maker. She has got used to the names by now.
She is also a prolific semi-finalist and finalist in the premier competition Pic-O-De-Crop, put on by the National Cultural Foundation.
She has the dubious privilege of being one of two women in the competition being held on Frday. The other is Donella.
She made her first foray onto the calypso arena in 2006 as a member of De Experience Tent. She made it to the semi-finals that year and again in the 2008 semis, but in 2009 she did not make it out of the tent. However, from 2010 she has been straight to the finals, being the only female to do so in 2012.
That year, she didn’t win a crown locally but the then 28-year-old showed her mettle when she won the 2nd Euphony Vibes Regional Calypso Queen Competition in Montserrat.
In 2013 she was one of three women in the Pic O De Crop finals (TC and Azizia were the other two).
Her songs were self-penned – One Day and I Ain’t Giving It Up. She performed last but placed second behind king iWeb.
In 2014, a member of the Headliners Tent, she was again in another Pic O De Crop finals as the only woman, with the self-penned Enough Is Enough and a collaboration with David Weatherhead titled Another View. She placed third behind tentmates AC and iWeb who successfully defended his crown.
Back then she said: “I had to put myself into a different way that I don’t see myself in. Being the only woman in the competition, I felt I had to go out there and represent. I knew that the finals this year was a tricky one because of who was in it. It was not a finals where I could come and be Chrystal and sing . . . .”
She was also the only female in the Party Monarch finals that year with Pantuk, placing fifth on her first try.
It is now 2015 and once again she is into another finals, one of three women (along with Donella and Enobong). Pulling No.3 to peform Wake Me Up and Music To My Ears. And 2016 was no different – Chrystal with That’s What Barbados Means To Me and Hall Of Fame, performing at No.5, but this time she was in the De Big Show tent, after leaving Cave Shepherd All Stars. She tied for fourth place with Donella.
In that year she took on the momentous task of once again representing Barbados at the Queen Of Queens Regional Female Calypso Competition inMonsterrat. Having won the crown twice, she was defending her title. She would take the crown once again, creating history.
“I almost fainted. I was happy and shocked and could not hold back my tears,” she said, laughing.
“All I was thinking about was my country and my family,” she said in an interview after the competition. “I came third in the regional competition last year. They sent me a request to come back again this year, so more than likely I will be back. I’m also supposed to be helping with the Montserrat Junior Calypso Competition.
Last year she was back in the Pic O De Crop finals at No.2 and this year she is at No.3.
“Numbers to me don’t really matter,” she told EASY magazine. “I just go out and do my best.”
She has no magic formula why year after year she is a perennial finalist.
“I always try to keep within the judging criteria and render my songs as well as possible.”
She said Rise Again, which makes her emotional, is a tribute to the Caribbean people “who have been affected by disasters, even Barbados who is going through their own personal storm”.
She said Piece O De Rock is “her being Chrystal and having a blast on stage”.
“We all want a piece of this rock. It is not only the cane cutters’ cry. I don’t think Barbados should be available to people of plenty riches. Even if it’s a tiny piece all Bajans should own something. Even I want a Piece O De Rock.”
Chrystal, a teacher, mum and wife, said her and the team would be going to the drawing board and try to sort out both songs so that the presentations will be enjoyed.
The owner of the two-year-old Arie Creative Services Inc., a songwriting, mentoring, arranging, teaching (theory and practical music) company, she has been involved in the Scotiabank Junior Calypso Monarch programme for 14 years. (NS)