20 to compete at Banks Calypso Monarch tonight

Onikha Joseph won the 2018 Banks Calypso Monarch (Adrian Narine photo)

THE final 10 contestants to make it into the Banks Calypso Monarch Competition will be decided this weekend when the 20 semi-finalists take to the stage, at the Union Number 53 Village, Community Centre Ground, in Berbice tonight.

The top 10 making it into the finals will battle it out against reigning champion, Onikha Joseph, a school teacher, who ruled the competition on her first time out in the game last year. Being the defending champion Joseph has an automatic place in the finals.
This year, the onus is on the other newcomers to see if they can replicate Joseph’s feat.

Another school teacher like Joseph, Ingrid Harris, from Barima Waini (Region One), is hopeful that she has what it takes. Though this will be Harris’ first year at the competition, she is not entirely new to the calypso arena.

Matter of fact, within her region Harris is considered quite the leader in calypso. In her community she has won the Moruca Calypso Monarch competition for the past five years, and when the region started hosting the Barima Waini Regional Calypso Monarch, she also ruled the roost there.

However, trying her hand at the national level is something she has always yearned to do.
“I’ve been doing calypso for a number of years, but only at the regional level. Knowing that I’ve been doing that for a number of years, it’s actually a dream for me to enter this year, so I made it into a reality,” Harris said

Aside from performing, over the years Harris would also help in writing calypso for the children from her region who would participate in the National Children’s Mashramani Calypso competition.

With the stage name “Lady Devotee”, Harris is entering the competition with a number called “Me Horrific Story”, which speaks out against the domestic violence situation in the country.

Despite being well known for his singing skills, Kwasi “Ace” Edmondson is another newcomer to the Banks Calypso Monarch Competition. For him competing at the event is also something he’s always been longing to do.

“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do being a fan of calypsonians such as `Rebel’ ever since I was a little boy. If you listen to how I write, even when I write Soca it’s storytelling, so it’s all kind of a calypso influence. So the calypso monarch is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Edmondson shared.

Edmondson is entering the competition with a piece called “That Don’t Mek Sense” that has been very- well received, ever since he released it a few weeks ago.

In defense of her title, Joseph is coming with a piece called “Side Chick” that speaks of a new social trend of women who get into relationships with married men.
“I think it’s a fairly new topic, it’s what is going on in society today,” Joseph said of the song. Joseph hasn’t sized up all the competition in this year but from what she has heard, she thinks her fellow competitors have upped the ante of the competition.

“I haven’t really focused on anybody else from the competition but I think that the level of the competition has risen from previous years. I’m not underestimating anybody. I’ve heard some good songs out there. There’s some other newcomers and so on. But I feel that I have a fairly good chance. I know that I have a good song, but I know that it will depend on what we do on the final night of the competition,” Joseph said.

Coordinator of the Calypso competition Sean Bhola says that patrons can come out and expect the competitors to deliver, because they will.
“One can expect interesting music, very interesting music. It’s social commentary, wide variety of topics. This year will be interesting. We have great competition in terms of the music. The festival band will also be performing.

The highlight of the night will be intense competition between the 20 contestants. We can say that we’ve enjoyed improved standards this year in terms of the entry sent in. The calypsonians have definitely up the ante,” Bhola noted

The Banks Calypso Monarch Finals is set for the National Park on February 15. The winner will walk away with $1M, while $600,000 will go to second place awardee, with $400,000 and $200,000 going towards the third and fourth place winners, respectively.