Kurt Allen dethroned defending monarch Chalkdust on Dimanche Gras and became Trinidad & Tobago’s 2010 National Calypso Monarch. With his sharp-tongued political commentary “Dey too bright” he convinced the audience as well as
One of the longest running awards ceremony in the world that honors reggae and world beat music, the 2009 IRAWMA took place at the state-of-the-art York College Performing Arts Center in Queens, New York on Sunday, May 3, 2009. It was a star-studded affair, emceed by Copeland Forbes and Tony Rebel.
The audience was entertained all night with exciting performances from some of the top names in Caribbean music, including Tarrus Riley, Calypso Rose, Beenie Man, Machel Montano, Alison Hinds,Tony Rebel, D’Angel, Gramps Morgan, Duane Stephenson and Barbee, all backed by the Dean Fraser Band.
The awards presentation saw some funny moments as fans screamed their choices and awardees teased each other. Machel Montano walked away with two trophies (“Most Outstanding Stage Personality” and together with the HD Band: “Most Outstanding Show Band”), Calypso Rose was awarded “Most Consistent Entertainer” and Alison Hinds scored “Best Calypso/Soca Entertainer”!
A new documentary film features the legendary singer Calypso Rose. She made musical history by becoming the first female Calypso Monarch and winning the Road March, too, being the first person holding both titles.
The now 69 year old resident of New York was born in Tobago and spends every Carnival season in Trinidad. Not even cancer stopped her from performing regularly and worldwide. She was on stage with stars like Michael Jackson and Harry Belafonte and her song â€œFire in Me Wireâ€ became a calypso anthem around the World and was recorded in eight languages.
According to the “Soca News” magazine, the film entitled “Rose, Calypso Diva”, follows Rose through her narrative and her travels, telling the story of her life, its influences and impact. It is scheduled for submission to various film festivals.
Other important points to make are first of all the fight against music piracy and the lack of knowledge when it comes to marketing and promotion of the music. Successfull artists nowadays have not only to be professional musicans, but it is also a must:
– that they know about their rights – knowledge is power!
– that they read closely the contracts they sign or let them get checked by a lawyer
– that they seek assistance of a trustworthy, professional label that makes use of modern technologies for promotion and distribution
– to make their music available worldwide through the means of digital distribution (MP3 download shops, online stores etc).
These points might be more important for the success of Soca music than whether the beats are a bit faster or slower. Maybe it is easier to catch a wider non-Caribbean audience with a crossover of Soca and other musical styles – why not! Soca/Calypso was always open for all kinds of influences, be it Indian ones in Chutney, be it Spanish/Venezuelan ones in Parang, etc. This is what makes it such a beautiful representation of the Caribbean people and their culture.
However also “straightforward” Soca (not slowed down, not diluted with Pop melodies) can work fantastic anywhere in the world – we saw this very impressingly during the soccer World Cup in Germany, when thousands of people who had never heard of Soca before jumped and waved, danced and enjoyed themselves to the performances of Trinidadian top artists.
So not a change of music is necessary but a change in marketing and promotion methods as well as a change in the heads of listeners of Soca who far too often think it is a matter of course that music is for free and that there is no need to pay for the hard work the artist did…
After some rumours about the deterioration of his health, the sad news are now official: Byron Lee passed away on the 4th of November 2008. The founder of the immensely popular band “Byron Lee and the Dragonaires” was one of the most famous ambassadors of Caribbean music all over the world for more than 50 years! His interpretations of Ska-, Rocksteady-, Calypso-, Reggae- and Soca hits found a growing and glowing audience not only in his homeland of Jamaica but also internationally. Since the late 1960s Byron “the Dragon” Lee is the owner of the label Dynamic Sounds. The company became a pioneer in the field of distributing foreign records for the major North American and European labels. During the 70’s major international artists frequented the company, for example the Rolling Stones, Roberta Flack and Bob Marley and the Wailers.
Beside his musical achievements on stage he was also one of the leading figures behind the scenes when it came to the launching of the Jamaican Carnival. First organised in 1990 it has since grown to become one of the biggest events in Jamaica.
One of more than 150 awards the musician won during his career was the honouring by the Caribbean Brass Festival Organization for Byron Lee’s contribution to the music industry in Trinidad 2001.
May the “Dragon” rest in peace. His music will live on, that’s for sure.