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Regional competition for young calypsonians

For the first time, up and coming Caribbean soca stars will have the chance to compete against each other.

On Saturday July 13, the Kensington Oval will be the host of the Junior Soca Caribbean Competition. Organiser of the event Sylvester Maynard told Barbados TODAY that the show was three years in the making, and was conceptualised to hone and develop young calypsonians.

He believed the Junior Monarch contest, run by the National Cultural Foundation, was not adequately encouraging those coming through the ranks to join the seniors.

“You have a Junior Monarch who wins the trophy. What have you heard from [the winners] after that to improve them? And how many juniors have left and gone on to the seniors? It is Richard Stoute Teen Talent winners who go [to the seniors], but you can’t name more than two [Junior Monarch winners] who have gone forward,” he asserted.”

The idea is if you see entertainment at a young age as something you want to go into as your career, our role is to guide the youth as they go forward.

“So far, six Barbadian children have shown interest in competing. Maynard has also received favourable response from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago – two of the five Caribbean countries he has made contact with. The music and Crop-Over aficionado also believed the twin-island republic gave their young musicians a better example of how they could have a career in the arts.

“When you see Trinidad and the level of the youngsters …they are so excited. Trinidadian young children in terms of music [see it as a way] to make a living, but we are so lackadasical about our music… and we take everything for granted,” he said.

Junior Soca Caribbean Competition preliminaries begin on Saturday May 18 at The Village Gate. The Waterford, St. Michael venue will also be the location for the semifinals before the competition moves on to the Kensington Oval.

Maynard revealed plans of turning the cricket mecca into a “soca funland” for children and parents alike, featuring rides, games and items for sale starting at 10 a.m. Li’l Rick and the Hypa Kids will give a guest performance.

The competition, which will be feature soca and social commentary in one open category, begins at 6:30 p.m. Contestants will vie for a trip to London, a trophy and a challenge trophy and a recorded version of their song, but Maynard assured that each competitor will be a winner in their own right.

“…Those who did not make it from the preliminaries to the finals will still get a participation trophy to show they took part and a report will be given to show why they did not move forward. Therefore they will be…better for the next year. This is the whole idea to the programme,” he explained. Furthermore, workshops will be held with the contestants as a way to sharpen their skills.

Maynard is also hoping to include and expose the talents of the associate degree music programme students at the Barbados Community College.

“I hope to have BCC [music] students who write a song or arrange will get the kudos for it… and be recognised for their work.”

The organiser has already attracted sponsorship for the event, which he stressed was “separate and a part” from the NCF’s Junior Monarch. (LW)

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