True champions

Stories by Latoya Burnham

Monarchs Honesty (left) and Quinn P (right) with writer and arranger of their songs, calypsonian Chrystal Cummins-Beckles.

The tight embrace of young calypsonians Aziza and Honesty carried nationally to the households of Barbadians on Saturday at the Scotiabank Junior Calypso Monarch competition, probably touched a lot of people.

What they probably did not know though was that behind that embrace was a long history between the two-time monarch Aziza and first-time finalist and eventually 2013 queen Honesty that went back to secondary school.

In fact, Charice Honesty Waldron says it was because of Aziza that she got involved in the calypso art form in the first place.

“The female artist that I look up to the most is Chrystal [Cummins-Beckles], but the first person I looked up to as far as Junior Monarch is Aziza. We were best friends in secondary school and she encouraged me and brought the idea to me a time back as well to get into Junior Monarch,” said Honesty.

So this year the 18-year-old student of Electrical Engineering at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic gave into the call of music to get into the programme, for her fifth and last year.

Based on her mother’s own disabilities and her experiences as a child of someone who was challenged, Honesty said she took the concept of what she wanted to sing about to calypsonian, writer and arranger Cummins-Beckles, who then scripted and arranged her song Respect de Disable – something she is most grateful for.

The young woman said it gave her an outlet for all the things she wanted to say and was very happy with the end product that allowed her to clinch the crown from two former monarchs in Aziza, who came second and Sammy G, who came third.

“It was determination that led me to enter this year. I entered because I saw it as an opening and also with the audience that it gets every year, I thought it would get the message across because of the exposure it has already.

“I really wanted to get de message out and that was it,” said Honesty, who has entered the Richard Stoute Teen Talent contest before, though she did not make it beyond the preliminary rounds last year.

Making it beyond the preliminaries of the Juniors this year she said, felt “really good”, and beyond that her win was a good gauge to tell her her message was out.

“It didn’t come as a surprise to me… It was a very tough competition, especially the preparation and all that, that aspect of it was tight.

“In my area all I had to do was stay focused and take care of my voice, but beyond that everything was ok because I had help. It was tough in truth, everything I went through,” she said.

Preparations included long rehearsals, making sure she hit all her cues with the band, that her notes were steady but most importantly that her voice was protected as well for the tougher competition aspects.

For the last few years, the participants in the Junior Monarch Programme have had to perform in two junior tents, as well as the semifinals, then a lunch time concert, before the last night of competition.

“The song was inspired by my mom. What it means to me… it represents what I went through with that, and what my mom means to me and how I see other people with disabilities in society being treated. Otherwise, I wanted the message to be put across and it was written in such a way that I could do that.

“I gave [Chrystal] the concept, yes, and she wrote it and structured it to suit. I am really happy with the result,” said Honesty.

Asked how her mother, who was a part of her presentation on stage on finals night, feels about her success, the 18-year-old said it was a proud moment for the family.

“It was nice. It was deliberate that I wanted to include her in what I was doing,” she said of her presentation, when her mom took to the stage at the end of her song and Honesty embraced her with an almost tearful kiss.

Her age does not allow her the ability to participate in the programme next year and Honesty said she was not certain if she would want to take to the big stage like her comrades Aziza and Mandisa have this year.

While she admitted that she loves singing and even spends some of her spare moments doing just that – practicing tunes – she is not certain what her next step will be. For now she is taking it a day at a time, enjoying and celebrating her success and looking to hopefully complete her studies at SJPP in the coming future to following in the footsteps of other relatives in the electrical engineering field.

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