Poonka for NCF kaiso contest changes

He may have been out of the competition arena for almost two decades, but calypsonian Wayne Poonka Willock is giving 100 per cent backing to the National Cultural Foundation’s (NCF) proposals of change to the major Crop Over competitions. But he’s also asking some questions about what is passing for calypso.

The NCF has been discussing the proposals with stakeholders –– a process that continued earlier tonight. The suggestions include preventing solo performers from also being a part of a group in the same competition and making artistes present different and original songs for each competition.

Wayne Poonka Willock
Wayne Poonka Willock

“I am not sure about the direction of what they are calling Pic-O-De-Crop right now, in terms of the whole judging, and what is a calypso and what isn’t. I think those areas need to be ironed out, because sometimes you hear a song, and because it is popular, it is assumed it is a calypso –– but I am not sure. The guidelines need to be clearer,” Poonka said as he shared his views on the annual festival with Bajan Vibes.

On the proposal to ensure one song, one competition, he added: “Like RPB [Stedson Wiltshire], I tend to agree. When you have all these people joining up together, it sort of takes away from the others and, in fact, you are competing against yourself.

“Then people will be saying, ‘But if it is only ten people performing on a show with 18 performances because of the collaborations, then you have a watered down presentation’. It is not that you are dismissing the fact that people are capable and that what they produce is not fine, but then other people lose opportunities because of that,” he added.

There is another matter of concern for Poonka. It has to do with the lack of opportunities for some businesses during the Crop Over Festival. Although lauding the NCF’s chief executive officer Cranston Browne for making very good efforts to “get things flowing properly”, Poonka said some companies were not being given a fair chance to provide their services.

“You have the issue of connections when it comes to certain events –– who gets to work, how are they chosen, how groups are chosen for performances, and things like that. So it is [not] spread around evenly; that is still an area of concern,” said Willock, himself a businessman –– owner of Ruk-A-Tuk Inc.

In relation to the quality of songs for the 2014 Crop Over Festival, Poonka said there was a lot of creativity.

“I think people spent a lot of time on melody and composition.”

It was after performing in the calypso arena for 12 years that Poonka decided to call his quits. His last competition song was De Scam in 1995. Besides being a semi-finalist nine times in the Pic-O-De-Crop competition, he made it to the final four times.

And while he may have “had enough” back then when he decided to move out of the calypso competition arena, Poonka is not ruling out the possibility of a return.

“I have thoughts of coming back, but when I listen to the types of songs that people keep noise about, sometimes you have to wonder about the content. You either criticizing somebody, or making fun of somebody . . . .

“But I haven’t dismissed the option of coming back into the calypso arena and that would, of course, have nothing to do with Ruk-A-Tuk; that would be Poonka,” he said, adding that he was still actively producing his music.


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