Bajan Kaiso Queen 2014 to Highlight Women Calypsonians


Barbados’ Nation News reports that women calypsonians will be in the spotlight through a new competition entitled Bajan Kaiso Queen 2014. Singer Queen Rita (shown above) is expected to crown the winner.

The show, which will feature current female artistes and pay homage to their predecessors, will be done via submission of recorded material leading up to a grand kaiso final of ten contestants on May 24 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. “For more than 33 years continuously, women have been involved in the many events featuring calypso in Barbados. And yet even as we go into 2014 with TC doing 20 years in competition, women have only been able to get near the winners’ row in calypso,” said co-organizer Roy Byer, noting the sole exception was 1988 monarch, Rita.

Byer, whose committee includes Barbadian calypso legend Singing Francine, who is based in Trinidad, stressed that this country’s women calypsonians needed “a leg up”. “So let’s start by having a show for them to put them in good stead,” Byer said, noting that the rivalry among the women would eventually sharpen their skills.

Asked whether the current crop of women were enthusiastic about the competition, he said, “We don’t know if they are keen, but we’re going to see whether they will come forward and be counted.” Each woman may submit one song which they consider to have been their best over the years; and entry forms and rules will be available by February 5.

The show will also feature an all-female band, and a top prize of $10 000 will be at stake. However, Byer expressed concern about the high costs of venues for such a show. “If we’re talking about cultural industries, where is the venue for entertainment? What about the price you have to pay for renting them, thereby driving up the admission fees for patrons? We are producing good musicians from Community College and so on, but to play where?” asked Byer, who is also the founder of the Super Gladiators calypso tent.

The most recent effort to bring female kaisowomen together was in 2004 when promoter and stage manager Merle Niles took a group of kaiso women into the Calypso Dome tent. The line-up included the all-girls’ band Black Gold, then junior monarch Jamie Jade Depeiza and three female emcees.

“We did that because Froggy had said in 1982 in a song called Woman’s Kadooment that there should be all women performing and being on the road, with Singing Francine being their queen and all that,” Byer recalled. Niles is also expected to be part of the upcoming show.

Queen Rita is expected to crown the winner on May 24, and among the names of those to be given honourable mention will be Lady Anne, Nikki V, Marcee, Miss B, TC, Kathy, Carol-Ann Scantlebury and the late Carolyn Tassa Forde.

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