by Donna Sealy

Veteran calypsonian John King will be singing a different tune this year, and its message is sure to resonate across the calypso arena.

The former Pic-O-De-Crop monarch told Barbados TODAY that it was high time the older performers took the youngsters under their wings and trained them so they could improve their craft.

“I think there are some things we need to get straightened out. I think often times people see youngsters and decide ‘awright, you can sing so that is it’. For me, what you do off stage is so much more important than what you do on stage. How you deal with things outside of the stage is important.

“On stage you can be a super, super, super, superstar but we’ve seen so many tragic stories with the super, super, super, superstars, it is unbelievable.

“I think what we need to do, especially with a lot of the youngsters coming into the calypso arena, the older persons who have at least made some sort of a contribution, who’ve travelled and done things, we need to mould them and not only just talk about how good their songs are …

“We need to make them understand that every time they walk on that stage they are ambassadors, for themselves, their families, their communities, their tents, their country, the region, their race.

“It goes on and on and until a lot of the youngsters I think understand that, you will get all the off-stage drama that is not needed. I don’t deal with it. I know a lot of people get vex and say ‘who de hell I t’ink I is’ and all of them kind of things I will hear, but I think that it is incumbent on older people to lead.

“They must lead, they can’t shrug off the responsibility to lead and then throw their hands up in the air and quarrel about what people ain’t doing or what they’re doing. I think you have to lead,” he asserted.

He also said the young artists have to want to learn and put in the work to achieve optimal results.

King, who is sitting out another season because of health matters, will be mentoring at least one young calypso and getting her ready for the Crop-Over 2014. He will also be managing De Big Show.

He, like other tent managers, said that getting businesses to contribute to the running of the tent was tough this year.

“Sponsorship is down, down, down but you know what, I believe that I’m going to reach my target before the tent opens [June 23] or even after it shortly opens. I am not giving up. I will be out there still behind people. Like I always say, Crop-Over has given so much to this country, business wise and otherwise and I believe that people have an obligation to get involved.

“I’m not saying that people have to take up $50,000 and $60,000 and give it to me but when you look at our cast — Red Plastic Bag, Gabby, myself, TC, Biggie Irie — who can really pay us for what we have done for Barbados and calypso over the years? Who could really pay we; not even the government can’t pay we.

“I feel that people should see it within themselves, as part and parcel of saying ‘why thank you, here I gine support’ at some business level because Crop-Over has put money in all businesses’ pockets over the years. It might be down now but what about all the other years when everybody was raking in the cash like it was a cash cow. Good God, you must have some sort of a conscience. You can’t just let the calypsonians be at the bottom all the time.

“All we’re asking for is help to get through a season for six weeks, it’s not like we’re coming asking for money every day and they

will still get back something from the sponsorship. It’s not like its a handout,” King said.

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