Out of the mouths of babes… hear the sweetest calypso and soca at The National Cultural Foundation’s (NCF) 2023 Scotiabank Junior Monarch Competition Semi-Finals on Sunday, July 2 at 6 p.m., at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.
Witness 26 up-an-coming artistes – 14 in the calypso category and 12 in soca – vie for their place in the final eight (per division) with songs that highlight societal issues and reflect the cultural zeitgeist.
Attendants of the recent Scotiabank Junior Monarch Tents got a taste of what’s to come as contestants fine-tuned their performances for the night. Gesturing, inflecting and expressing like their older counterparts as they shared their offerings; some tackling hot button topics in their stanzas and choruses.
Like bullying. Haylei Hailstorm Wise, with Both Sides, and Khalija Khaleesi Kellman, with De Bully gave multifaceted perspectives of the “tyrant” and how it affects the abused, the abuser, and provided suggestions for prevention.
Sakarah Sakarah Thomas cheekily tackled hyper-connectivity with Alexa (“It’s like yuh phone smarter than you/You asking it what to do”), and Eden Potent Murrell’s Can’t Lash We lays bare the cultural contrast, between Barbados and the United States, as he addressed corporal punishment.
Eden’s sister, Destiny Destiny Murrell, lamented the factors that cause children to inherit the adult problems in their adolescence with My Environment, while Kenaz The Mighty Bit Bit Walker warned of the repercussions from detrimental influences on Drugs and Disobedience.
Kadarius King K Allen expressed his anxieties surrounding violence on Dear God; Sabiah Sabiah Gaskin’s Your Creation turned the mirror back on adults who wonder “How de yout’s get so?” (“It is you who teach we to cuss/It is you who teach we to fuss,”); and Danesha Danika Davis conveyed the long-lasting effects of losing a loved one to cruelty with Dear John, a tribute to her father.
Relissa Re Re Mitcham also eulogised a loved one with My Granny, a deeply emotional reflection that brought tears to her eyes and to some of those in the crowd.
Reserve Joshua King Boy King shared his spiritual solution to the nation’s adversities with Give Thanks, and Alyssa Slay Harris revealled her aspiration to follow in the footsteps of powerful women like Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Rihanna on Just Like These Women.
Her namesake, Alyssa Queen A Cumberbatch, used The Black Reality to call for unity within the nation, and Kiara Mhizz Khibaba Drayton-Archer’s Unity is Strength echoed that cry, arguing that we should prioritise coming together for matters of importance
The soca artistes had, too, their say over a mix of pace, bashment and groovy rhythms.
Jazarie Zarie B Belgrave encouraged us to live a healthy lifestyle and combat poor eating habits, which can lead to non-communicable diseases, on Get Active (“Get yuh friends and yuh family/Let we start exercising daily”).
Kymani The Showman Devonish (We Doan Care and Ranesha Ranesha Stewart (Good Vibes) both proclaimed their relief of, and welcome to, the unconstrained return of the sweetest summer festival after the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Vivid depictions of the sights and sounds of our cultural spectacle were also delivered by Revenn YSR Moseley (Sweet Lime), Rimiya Majestic Miya Wilson (We Crop Ova), Thierry TiJay Belgrave (Ah Feeling), and Joshua Joshua B Blackman (Dis Sweet Festival)
On Jam Down, Rashad King Shad Applewaithe boasted how his impairment is not a hindrance (“My vision might be blurry/But dat int no worry”), and Sephon Lil’ Stathis Sealy and Rohjani Rohjani Shurland-Agard anticipated the ending of the school year with Fold In Half and Vacation respectively.
Joshua Joshox Oxley used his storytelling skills to outline a conundrum and his solution on Push de Truck, and Trinity Clarke’s I Love Soca shared her affection for the genre and its effects.
Markers have been laid and areas of improvement identified. Now it is on to the Semi-Finals, to see who takes their next step to the crown.
The 2023 Scotiabank Junior Monarch Competition Semi-Finals takes place on Sunday, July 2 at 6 p.m., at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.