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By Raffique Shah

Trinidad Express

CALYPSO, the unique art form that defined Trinidad and Tobago for a hundred years, that clever, creative combination of lyrics with rhyme and melody to haunt the living and awaken the dead, is dead. Gone to a great cultural mausoleum that exists somewhere between the Bassman's Hell and cyberspace. Thirteen years into a new century, a new millennium, I cannot write, "Long live calypso!"

After you would have cussed me for daring to challenge the cultural status quo, more so on the day after forty calypsonians sang at the semi-finals in Skinner Park, six of them former monarchs, twenty of them women, answer me a few questions. When last have you heard an original calypso (not vintage) that grabbed you by the ears, forced you to listen to its lyrics, to hum to its sweet melody and, overwhelmed, you cried out, "Kaiso, boy!" When last?

Look, I do not mean to belittle or disrespect the bards of today and some giants of yesterday who, against immense odds, are trying to keep calypso alive, albeit on life support systems. Calypsonians like Mudada, Chalkdust, Sandra, Aloes, Pink Panther and De Fosto deserve plaudits for their tenacity, for having survived for decades in the gayelle even as the past masters retired, many of them hurt, and their contemporaries fell by the wayside.

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Too political, absolutely no melody, I agree, its something of the past.

CALYPSO IS CONTROL BY 2 MEN WHO COMPOSE ALL THE CALYPSOES FOR THE SINGERS THAT HAVE TO PAY THEM HALF OF THE PRICE MONEY, AND ALL THE MELODIES SOUND ALIKE.... CALYPSO IS VERY BORING... IF YOU CANNOT SLEEP. GO TO A CALYPSO TENT... CALYPSO IS DEAD DEAD DEAD, AND THE JUDGES IS PICKING FOOLISHLY.. I STOP GOING CALYPSO TENTS... THEY ARE ALL DEAD

Truly said, you preach my brother, the true art form of calypso is certainly dead. I make no apologies to the many young men and women who are calling themselves calypsonians and are not. I congratulate you for citing some of the bards who keeps the fuel burning. But it is sad to see these days not even the steel bands who go hand in hand with calypso is still performing the art of calypso. So you can safely say that panorama is certainly dead also, and this is very sad to comprehend. The birdie the mighty sparrow and shadow, and others like chalkdust is still around but Kitchener, and the others are gone never to return. So I join with you brother Raffique shah,to say that calypso and panorama is certainly dead. I rest my case. Amen. (So Be It)

Somebody is always predicting the death of Calypso. No doubt that there is a shortage of good composers. No doubt that Cro Cro and Aloes took the racism in song too far and Calypso lost a big part of its audience. But Calypso is too entrenched in the cultural blood of Trinidadians to die. We just need a few singers and composers to broaden their lyrical content and Calypso could touch the world AGAIN. 

Claude I don't always share your point of view but this rounds I agree with most of what you said. Calypso will not die but it is definitely in a deep COMA .Yes Cro Cro and Aloes and others do take the race thing too far and the political attacks as well but who are responsible for carrying them to the finals year after year(thank God not this year).The judges have a big part in the art form being in the sad state it is in. Composers and singers have gone in the direction they have gone because they see the compositions chosen by the judges year after year and have just followed in that vein. Yes we just need a few singers and composers to broaden their lyrical content and Calypso  will rise again and this can be achieved without all the clutter and confusion brought on stage by each and every contestant each year. No Raffique. Calypso is not DEAD.

Calypso is dead. Period. Example, the majority of the women singing calypso, singing the same crap, holding their belly and bawling, screaming, as though their mother died. The men, absolutely terrible voices, bad lyrics, in other words, many will sing against the PP government just to show that this is a caribbean african ting. Very few play an instrument, no wonder they have to buy and copy the template of old calypsoes.

I was very impressed yesterday to see how many women and young people participated in calypso fiesta. I have been talking to many young people who are very interested in calypso. I am sure on Monday you will also see more young people singing at the Juniors. you guys sound like you are wishing calypso will die. You are either getting too old and can't enjoy life any more. You all should listen the Trevor Wilkins show in NewYork if you want to enjoy listening to calypso. Let's embrace the young people who are trying to keep this culture alive. Don't let foreigners come and take it from us. So they all sound alike, so is jazz, hip hop, reggae, soca, R&B, chutney, and the list goes on. Mr. Shah I read, your column sometimes, you sound like you want to see calypso die. The large crowd I saw in the park yesterday tells me calypso is alive and kicking. "Long live calypso".

SAT-NAM...*"KAISO" IS 'ALIVE' & 'UN-DYING'.....LIKE OUR ANCE*STARS!!! SO WHETHER IN/ON SO-CALLED 'CYBER- SPACE'/'I-CLOUD'...OR WHEN SHARED/DISSEMINATED, LOCALLY & INTRNATIONALLY.BY SOME AH WE "OLE- GEEZERS" & YOUNG,SENSIBLE/INTELLIGENT "KAISO-LOVERS">>>I PROUDLY SHOUT:-"LONG LIVE KAISO!!!"

DID YOU SEE THE JOY/EXUBERANCE/SINCERE LOVE...DISPLAYED BY MACHEL,RIKKI,KARENE & DWAYNE,IN THE VIDEO 'RE-MAKE' OF *MAESTRO'S:-"GOLD"??? DAT'S HOW POWERFUL "KAISO" IS WHEN IT "MOUNTS' ANYONE... YOUNG,OLD....FAMILIAR OR "STRANGER"!!!

OF COURSE:- 'WE PEOPLE', AND 'WE MEDIA' HAVE TO 'PUSH'....NOT 'PUSH-OUT' KAISO!!!

*IN THE ATTACHED PHOTOS:-(1)PLAYIN' KAISO ON PAN IN OAKLAND,CALIFORNIA.*(2)TEACHIN' "KAISO-RIDDIM" TO "P.E'E.R.S." CLIENTS IN ALAMEDA COUNTY PROGRAM,CALIFORNIA; & *(3)SINGING A 'KWANZAA-KAISO'  {PUTTING NEW LYRICS TO KITCH'S:-'DRINK AH RUM' MELODY} TO STUDENTS & FACULTY @ CAL.UNIVERSITY, BERKELEY....WHERE I HAVE BEEN TEACHIN' ASPECTS OF WE-CULTURE,IN THEIR "CARIBBEAN MUSICS" PROGRAM...FOR THE PAST DECADE>>>&:-100-PLUS STUDENTS SIGN UP ANNUALLY FOR MY CLASSES!!!

***AGAIN:---"LONGGGGGGG LIVE KAISO!!!" ASE-O! ONE LOVE!

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Before some of allyuh "shoot the messenger", please answer the man's question:

"When last have you heard an original calypso (not vintage) that grabbed you by the ears, forced you to listen to its lyrics, to hum to its sweet melody and, overwhelmed, you cried out, "Kaiso, boy!" When last?"

Because I'd like to ask the same question.

(And listen to the original "Gold" by Maestro again)

Heather McIntosh – Old Man’s Lament

I'm watching kids singing calypso on TV and to me it looks like calypso is alive and well and in good hands.

No need to introduce race or politics into this discussion.

I think Raffique made many excellent points most of which I agree with.

I look back to the late 80's and 90's when synthesizers were just becoming affordable - the mixture of this along with the new Soca beat leads us to where we are today. Pelham Goddard practically controlled music then since he was competent with the synthesizer using a home based studio. Most music then sounded the same because we had one producer/arranger in control.

Now we have a generation of performers who are not songwriters and this waters down the music even more because of the limited writers available.

The government wrongly got too involved in promoting soca Monarch / Power soca / Groovy soca competitions etc. but I guess at the time money was flowing so it was not an issue then. The focus should have remained on traditional Calypso and let private promoters risk their capital on other competitions.

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