Written by Val Henry Posted On: Monday, 25 June 2012 Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 June 2012
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Basseterre, St. Kitts, (Monday 25th June, 2012)-After over six months of planning and research, a new commemorative magazine on the development of calypso in St. Kitts was launched here on Sunday 24th June, 2012, during a ceremony held at Cloud 9, Port Zante, in front of scores of avid calypso fans.
The 60 page publication traces the growth of the art form in the island, providing vital statistics about past winners and leading exponents of calypso, mainly from 1971, but with some insight before that period.
The magazine is being touted as the most comprehensive document that captures the true essence of Kittitian/Nevisian calypso music. It looks at how calypso is judged; the controversies that have emerged over the years; the administration of calypso; history of the Junior Calypso Competition; ratings of the finalists from 1971-2011; full list of finalists and winners, with their songs, since 1971; all road march titles and winners over the past 40 years, and more.
In order to bring life to the volumes of calypso data, the publishers recruited the services of top writers and experts with knowledge of local calypso, including Ashton Leader, Constantine ‘Lord Black’ Edwards, Creighton Pencheon, Gene Thomas, Linkon Maynard, Clement O’Garro, Adrian Lam, Rudy Morton, Clement ‘Bouncin’ Williams, Dr. Ian Jacobs, and Val Henry.
The launch turned out to be an evening that evoked many fond memories of battles past; with audience members reflecting on their own experiences at the competitions and tents. They also spoke much about calypsonians whom they felt really made outstanding contributions.
In the 40 years of National Carnival (1971-2011) only 13 persons have ever won the calypso crown. All have been men. Not one female has had the pleasure, though some would argue that both Singing Jackie and Anastasia were denied their rightful place in history. Ellie Matt remains the leader with 10 wins, followed by both Socrates and Konris with 5 each. Ayatollah, Pung Wa and Phonsie won on 3 occasions; Entertainer, Starshield, Mallet and Pat twice; with Lord De Maths Too Hard, Marc 1 and Sweeney with only 1 crown each.
Entertainer, (Levi Weeks of Cayon), was the first National Carnival King, (1971 and 1972). However, he was not the first calypso king of the country; just the first one after the festival was nationalized by government in 1971. The honour of being the very first calypso king, before 1971, goes to the Lord Kush, who was crowned king in the very first contest held in 1957, at the famed Apollo Theatre on the Bay Road. The event was organized by one Basil Henderson.
The magazine was officially unveiled by the Minister of Culture, Ms. Marcella Liburd, who paid tribute to all calypsonians while also praising the publishers of the magazine.
“Let us not confuse the nationalization of carnival with the origins of the festival, which began in 1957 when Vincent ‘Kush’ Barker was crowned the first king of St. Kitts,” said Liburd.
She congratulated all who helped to make the magazine possible, including sponsors, writers, designers; recognizing how difficult it is to produce such documents.
One of the problems we have in the country said Liburd, is that we tend not to document our history, and we allow our traditions and the stories of our past to die with our elders, instead of trying to extract the information and have it recorded for posterity.
“We therefore need a new trend where we ensure that efforts are made to capture our country’s activities, milestones and events for historic purposes,” challenged the Culture Minister.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the Carnival Calypso Sub-Committee, Sylvester Anthony said his committee facilitated the production as best they could; providing access to the records of the committee and providing stats on past competitions and winners.
Executive Publisher, calypsonian Linkon ‘Contenda’ Maynard, explained that “The reason why we are here is to launch something that has never been done in St. Kitts before, that is a calypso magazine. Sometimes they have a carnival magazine, Music Festival Magazine, and others; so we decided that we have been around, as far as National Carnival calypso is concerned, since 1971 and we don’t have a magazine to call we own. So I started to talk to people who understand calypso, such as the kings, and other knowledgeable individuals like Lord Black and Creighton Pencheon. It was very challenging to get the information which w
e needed to do this project, but we persevered.”
The magazine was unveiled by the Minister of Culture and went on sale immediately at the function.
Maynard thanked his major sponsors that included the Port Authority, SL Horsford’s, Carib, LIME, Bottling Company and National Bank.
Though not all former kings were able to attend, the audience appreciated the presence of Ayatollah, Entertainer, Starshield, Konris, Marc 1, Socrates and Pungwa.
There were live performances by Contenda, (who paid tribute to the late Mighty Bath Towel), Konris, Socrates, Entertainer, Jackie and a special guest appearance by King Meeko.
Part proceeds from sale of the magazines will go towards the purchase of a dialysis machine for the local hospital, recognizing the problem being faced by many nationals including former King, Ellie Matt.
Speaking on the issue at the launch, local doctor, Garfield Alexander explained that the country not only needs the machine but a whole infrastructure has to be created with a special ward with health providers specifically trained in the area.
Amongst those in the audience was Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas.
Kidney failure, said Alexander, mostly has resulted from problems caused by diabetes. He said, through the magazine they are also trying to create a greater awareness about the issue of diabetes in the country, spreading the word about preventative measures needed by the populace.
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