She did it for her late aunt and grandmother.
Despite anxiety issues on stage that left her with chest pains, Quinn Quinn P Prescott walked away from the Scotiabank Junior Calypso Monarch competition with the title of Monarch in the 8 to 12 category.
Her second year in the finals and last in her category, as she will move up to the 13 to 18s next year, Quinn P said she just had the inkling of a feeling that she would win, but she still was not certain.
The polite, 12-year-old Alleyne School lass said it was a surprise to her when fellow competitor and last year’s monarch Jazz-Z’s name was called for second place, leaving her as this year’s winner.
“I was surprised, yes please, because I had a feeling I was going to win, but I did not actually think that I would. So when the results came back I was shocked.
“I felt good, really good about my song. Coming to the end of my song, I did not feel like I was doing the best I could because I was not feeling well. So I was just pushing, pushing to get off the stage; so I felt like I rushed the song and did not put as much feeling as I was supposed to into it,” said Quinn P in a rush.
“Last year because I was scared and I was now getting accustomed to the calypso arena, I just sang because I had the song and I felt it a little. But at finals when I got on stage I blanked out. I forgot everything because I had a dance routine with my dancers also. When I started to sing and it got to that part, I just blanked out and I forgot every dance move. Luckily I remembered the words, but this year I had more self-confidence and I came and performed and I’m proud,” said the young monarch.
Having just entered the competition last year and made it through to the finals then, Quinn P had been hoping that she would have been able to bring home the crown then, at least for her aunt who died just before the competition then.
This year, she had even more incentive, the loss of her grandmother in March, for whom she said she wanted to win.
“This year I was drilling myself, constantly drilling myself. I had sleepless nights, sometimes I wouldn’t even eat and that is not like me, so my mummy really knew I was into it this year because I knew I had to win for my grandmother who died in March, and I had to win for my auntie who died right before competition last year. So that was my aim and I told her if I got through to the finals that would have been my birthday present because my birthday was the day before semifinals,” she said.
Quinn P explained that Gabby and Chrystal Cummins-Beckles, who wrote and arranged her song Living With HIV, were the reasons she got into the Junior Monarch programme in the first place.
Usually the juniors would spend a portion of the holidays immersed in workshops, working on their stage presentation, mic techniques and in other developmental areas ahead of the preliminaries. Once they register to participate in the competition element of the programme, then the rehearsals get underway with numerous coaches, including musicians, vocalists, calypsonians and others.
“I entered because I look up to Gabby, Chrystal and because I always liked singing and my voice took more to calypso than R&B, so I told my mummy that either it was that I would do calypso or gospel, but calypso got to me first so I just went along with it.
“I love that you get to put yourself out there in song. Every year someone comes with a different song. You can talk to someone about yourself through calypso, talk to people about things you want to change in Barbados through calypso. That’s what I like about it.”
While she had tried her hand at writing, she laughed at her own efforts, saying that she preferred to leave that element of the creative process to “the professionals”.
“I will sing what they give me once I like it and I feel comfortable with it.”
Quinn P said while her drills helped considerably, as was evident by her success in the programme this year, she still had anxiety issues on the night.
“My chest started to attack. I suffer with chest problems. It doesn’t really bother me, but when I have a lot of things on my mind which I did on Saturday night I had so many things on my mind, I was like I hope I remember all my words, I hope I remember my lines in the skit, I pray that I remember the band cues, I was just studying everything. When I start to study things I go into panic attack and then my chest starts to hurt. It really doesn’t do anything but if I stress myself it would come on.”
Before her song began, there was a short school yard skit, where a group of four children refused to allow her into their games at play time because she had HIV – hence the basis of her song about stigma and discrimination.
This year too, she said the number of performances the junior had, two tent shows and the lunch time concert helped prepare her for the different kind of stages on which she could have to perform.
Since her win, she said she has been trying to take it easy.
“I’ve been relaxing and just talking to my friends. The competition sometimes it was difficult; at other times it was fun and it has been an adventure for me.” The young lass who wants to be a general practitioner because she believes it will brighten her life to be able to help people, said she was still getting used to being monarch.
“My phone was going crazy with messages. Everyone is still calling, my mom was in and out freaking out cause every time she sees the trophy she smiles. I’m just happy, really happy.” (LB)