A veteran songwriter wants to see more original songs being performed at the annual Richard Stoute Teen Talent Contest.
Errol “Akola” Clarke agreed that while much original music does not come out of the competition, such a push would augur well not solely for the more than four decades old contest, but Barbados’ music as well.
His comments were made on Wednesday during an interview with THE NATION at the launch of 43rd edition of the teen contest at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, Garrison, St Michael, which is the new home of the show.
Clarke, the finance officer of the museum, contended that getting the children to write their own lyrics was not as difficult as it may seem.
He made reference to a past situation where Cultural Ambassador and ten-time Pic-O-D-Crop king Stedson Red Plastic Bag Wiltshire not only wrote for former Junior Monarch Teri Sparkle T Williams but he would also assist her to construct her own songs. Williams, who recently placed fifth in the senior calypso contest, now writes for other junior calypsonians.
“They need to be encouraged to write original songs and I don’t think that happens as much as it should. In the junior calypso monarch the best songwriters write free, they don’t charge the children a cent. I am sure Gabby, Plastic Bag, and all those people will write for those children. They would do it . . . . This [Teen Talent] could be the platform for that,” the singer/songwriter insisted.
Aspiring entertainer Tarique Griffith was the sole contestant in recent seasons of Teen Talent to sing his own compositions, for which he received rave reviews. During the 2019 Crop Over season Griffith was very popular for his original songs under the sobriquet “Riq-A”.
However, founder of Teen Talent, Richard Stoute while maintaining his show is not a “singing contest”, said that original music could not work on his platform.
“Original music is not easy. There was a year when I had one original song, a good song, and it was a total flop. Songwriting is not easy. You don’t want to bring people out on Sundays and hear a person singing a song that is mediocre.
“I think there is another forum for that . . . but not asking people to pay $20 to come to listen to people sing songs that have not competed. And who is going to write these songs? All those things we have to look at.
“What kind of standard are you going to get as far as songwriters are concerned?” Stoute asked.
“We do have a category for the most outstanding original song, we’ve had that for many years . . . . Teen Talent is not a singing contest. It is now an institution and has been an institution for a long time. I don’t want people to see this as a singing competition. If you behave well, you win prizes, we have an essay competition, a prize for the most attentive parent. So it is kind of a nation-building attitude that I have implemented into Teen Talent so many years ago,” he added.
The first preliminary will be staged on Sunday beginning at 7 p.m. (SDB Media)