‘Honoured to be a queen’
The first Barbadian female and youngest person to ever win the Pic-O-De-Crop calypso crown, Aziza Clarke, says she is feeling sweet to be a queen.
About 2 a.m. last Sunday, 21-year-old Aziza who hails from Britton’s Hill, St Michael was crowned at Kensington Oval after emcee Mac Fingall announced that she had been awarded 114 points for a solid delivery of her songs, Bring Back Respect and One People, One Nation, written by Ewatt Viper Greene.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY at Restoration Ministries where she attends church, Aziza said she was humbled and thankful for the win that she worked hard to achieve.
“God has done this for me and I know it. I heard him all the way saying ‘you can do it’. It is an honour to be a queen. I have always seen this moment coming but I did not know it would be at such a historic moment. I am very proud of myself and those who supported me,” she said.
Aziza said that surreal feeling that overpowered her on stage that morning will forever be etched in her memory.
And the moment when veteran calypsonians she always admired, embraced and congratulated her for a job well done, is one that she will forever cherish.
“And it was wonderful hearing all of these people out there cheering for me. I have watched those stalwarts and it was a pleasure to be up there amongst them. It felt very wonderful, I am very proud of myself. I have always wanted to be on that big stage,” the reserved calypsonian recalled.
The rewarding feeling of victory is nothing new to this young Bajan gem. Aziza won the Scotiabank Junior Monarch Calypso Monarch title in the eight to 12 category in 2007. In 2010, she walked away with the trophy in the 13 to 18 category in that same competition.
She made it clear, though, that her singing abilities do not end at rendering calypso. The diversity of her voice makes it possible for her to sing different genres, her favourite being R&B and gospel.
But calypso pulls at the heart strings of the former Princess Margaret Memorial School student who became the second woman to have won the crown, following Rita in 1988.
“I just find that I love social commentary. Social commentary is where my heart is. I can relate to and pour it out more than other genres,” Aziza said.
For her deserving victory, the young lady received the main prize of a Mazda 3 valued at $83, 000, among other prizes. However, Aziza declared that while she was contented with and grateful for her rewards, she could not put a price on the joy she felt that Sunday morning.
“I don’t know as yet what I would be doing with the car or stuff like that, because when I went on stage Saturday night to sing I wasn’t thinking about the car or money. I just wanted to enjoy that moment. And I am blessed because I got that moment,” she said.
It was also a blessing to have her one-year-old daughter, Aria Blessed Clarke, who she sees as her greatest prize in life, witness her being crowned.
“We have a special bond. From the time I was pregnant I heard the voice of God and he told me to name her Blessed. And then when she was born, I saw that she was truly one. From the time she was born to now, I mean so many good things have come my way and I think it is because of her,” said Aziza as she spoke affectionately of a child she described as very intelligent, happy and fun-loving.
She knows she will have to defend her crown, but she has not started thinking about that just yet.
First, she must fulfill the national duties that come along with being named a Pic-O-De-Crop winner.
Her first public appearance following her win will be at the annual Crop Over reception hosted by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart at Ilaro Court, scheduled to take place tonight, August 4.
“I don’t mind singing all the time though, because I have always had a passion for singing. I have been singing from six years old. My first competition was at Vauxhall Primary School and I came second,” she recalled.
In recent months, the Brittons Hill community where Aziza lives has received negative publicity due to a number of unsavory activities taking place there.
But she sees herself as a shining example that “good things can come out of Brittons Hill.”
In fact, right in her humble home, Aziza delivers voice training to some of the children in her community who admire her singing capabilities and aspire to walk in her footsteps.
“I am happy to show people that Brittons Hill still has a light that can be shone. I love to see people doing better and not worse. I want to see the young people being positive and not negative. I want to see them giving their lives to God,” she said.
One of Aziza’s biggest supporters is her mother, Carol Clarke, who was present during the Barbados TODAY interview, watching her offspring with a proud smile on her face.
Carol said while all of her children are blessings, when Aziza was born she knew she would be a special child.
She said her family has faced difficult times over the years, but Aziza, whom she ensures remain grounded, continues to walk a positive road and share her talent.
“And that makes me smile. From Junior Monarch it wasn’t an easy road and she knew it, but she kept saying ‘I am not giving up.’ She keeps making me proud. She is making the family proud and Brittons Hill proud,” the mother said.
Meanwhile, Aziza’s pastor, Senator David Durant, said it was impossible to contain the excitement when he woke up on Sunday morning to the news that the young member of his congregation had created history. Durant said he did not attend the competition on finals night, but listened keenly on the radio, praying for Aziza to successfully execute her performance.
The pastor commended the clean lyrics and sound messages embedded in the winning songs.
“Brittons Hill has talent. And we have had all the negative public statements from Brittons Hill in the past months, with all the shootings and so forth and the blackness of Brittons Hill. But look at the light that is coming out now,” said Durant who works closely with the residents of that community.