The presence of five former Scotiabank Junior Monarchs in tonight’s Courtesy Pic-O-De-Crop Finals is the starkest indicator yet of the remarkable success of the National Cultural Foundation’s (NCF) junior programme.
The Junior Monarch competition, sponsored by Scotiabank for more than two decades, represents a critical incubator for the senior calypso competitions.
As a result, this aspect of the NCF’s Crop Over Festival calendar, helps to preserve and calypso artform, contributing to its appeal and longevity.
This year, the junior calypso pipeline has produced nearly one-third of the 18 finalists competing for $100,000 in cash or a Nissan Leaf EV car, as well as the honour of wearing the coveted calypso crown.
NCF Chief Executive Officer Carol Roberts-Reifer has described this development as “an absolute vote of confidence in the Scotiabank Junior Monarch programme and the NCF’s continued investment in developing our young talent”.
The former junior monarchs in the finals lineup seeking to dethrone reigning Calypso King Classic are Quon, Raanan, and Doyenne from the C O Williams House of Soca; while Sammy G and Teri, hail from the Payce Digital/COB Credit Union All Stars Calypso Tent.
They will be coming up against Colin Spencer, De Announcer, Donella, John Yarde, Jude Clarke, and Rudifus from Payce Digital/COB Credit Union All Stars Calypso Tent; Crystal Cummins-Beckles, I-Web, Mr Blood, and TC from First Citizens/Digicel De Big Show; Billboard from C O Williams House of Soca; and Imara from Carter’s Shining Stars. The reserves are Faith from C O Williams House of Soca and Caribbean Queen from Super Gladiators Calypso Tent.
“When we look at the progress that previous juniors have made in taking that step or that leap towards the Pic-O-De-Crop competition, it goes without saying that the [Scotiabank] Junior Monarch Competition has played its role, and a vital role,” he stated.
Quon emphasised junior programme’s help in honing his skills and provided “an excellent [platform] in my progression as an artiste”.
The excited Pic-O-De-Crop finalists remarked: “I’m really enjoying it. I’m absolutely loving it, really looking forward to getting on to the big stage and putting on a show this year.”
“The Scotiabank workshops really assisted me in preparing for Junior Monarch, so I’ve taken the values and the preparations from Junior Monarch workshops, and the experience . . . into the Pic-O-De-Crop,” she explained.
She outlined: “The competition really prepares you for the bigger stage . . . . It wasn’t just coming to Junior Monarch, bringing a song, and just singing; there was actually a process where people helped you with areas such as diction and stage presence.”
After recently watching junior performances from 2014 onward, Teri said she observed remarkable improvements.
“Junior Monarch also allowed for networking. I was always impressed with how many seasoned calypsonians would come to the workshops. They were willing to assist the juniors, and so, I was able to create connections with people like Bag, Gabby, AJ, Blood, TC – mentors . . . who even now, I know I can call to assist me in any way possible,” she revealed.