Hail the prospective kings and queens

And then there were 18.

Few can have much argument with the choices made by the Pic-O-De-Crop judges very early Monday morning after the Stray Cats ended their tent’s presentation at the Crane Beach Hotel.

Those finding favour for the competition’s semi-final were: Adrian Clarke, Ian Webster, Adonijah, Chrystal Cummins-Beckles, Jamal Slocombe, TC (De Big Show); Ah-dee-Lah, Colin Spencer, Donella, Aziza (All Stars); Dre, Sammy G, Sir Ruel (House of Soca); Mr Blood, Smokey Burke (Headliners); Apache, Billboard (Experience); Julie (Super Gladiators).

The 18 semi-finalists in the Pic-O-De-Crop competition.
The 18 semi-finalists in the Pic-O-De-Crop competition.

Those not finding favour and perhaps having reason to question their omission are Hee Haw and Miguel. But truth be told, the judging panel has done an excellent job.

During the judging process there were some outstanding performances with the likes of Aziza, TC, Ah-dee-Lah and Jamal Slocombe leading the way. Aziza is an exciting talent and her selections this year One People, One Nation and Bring Back Respect must have garnered her significant points in all categories. The Ewatt Greene-penned  is one of the sweetest pieces of music for the season and on judging night, as she has been season-long, Aziza was riveting.

She is one of seven females who have made it into the semi-finals and several of them, with good performances, could make it to the next stage. Donella was excellent last year finishing second to calypso monarch Classic. This year on judging night she was terrific and many argued her material in Division, and especially, The Criteria, is even better than last year’s.

Newcomer to the semifinal Ah-dee-Lah was classy on All Stars’ judging night and thoroughly deserved her inclusion on the basis of her I Now Land and Barbados, Your Mother. The former junior monarch contestant told Barbados TODAY she was happy to make the semifinal of the Pic-O-De-Crop competition and that on Friday night she planned to bring “fire”.

Jamal Slocombe is as promising a young calypsonian as there is on the Barbadian landscape. A confident, charismatic performer, blessed with wonderful pipes, he appeared a certainty after two superb performances on Saturday night. Indeed, barring some unforeseen occurrence on Friday he seems destined for the Pic-O-De-Crop final.

“It is a very emotional morning.
I am grateful to God for allowing me to make it into the semi-finals of this year’s Pic-O-De-Crop. The feeling is overwhelming, without the support of my fans and well-wishers the jubilation would not be as great either,” he told Barbados TODAY this morning.

The youngster whose talent was obvious from his first notes in the junior monarch ranks, gave thanks to many of those who have helped him reach this far and promised he would be giving it his best effort in his quest to reach the final.

I wish to thank Red Plastic Bag, John King, Carl Greenidge, Chris Allman and most of all, Denis Cadogan. To my family, especially my grandmother who is the rock, for building a foundation so strong that has enabled me to be who I am today.

To be very honest, whether I win or I lose, it becomes an experience to add to my book. I’m just praying for the best to get through the finals, and I’m not going down without a fight. So let the battle begin!” said an excited Slocombe.

Of the veteran crew Adonijah and Smokey Burke merely had to perform on their respective judging nights to make the semifinal. They both always start with the distinct advantage of being among the best writers in the country. Adonijah’s calypsos are never long-winded, he has an understanding and appreciation for measurement and his lyrics always reflect this and make his songs easy on the ear. He is in that vein once again with That Is A Bajan and Bashment Commentary. He also often injects much humour into his work, which is a dying practice in Barbadian calypso.

No one turns a phrase like Burke and he always scores heavily on lyrics. He would have done that once again with King Kaiso and All De Way To De Bank.

Perhaps the only eyebrow that might have been raised might have been at the inclusion of Julie. Always an honest trier who gives nothing but 100 per cent, she rendered You Can Do Better and Barbados, Happy 50th on her tent’s judging night and performed creditably. However, she tended to shout some of the lyrics in her anniversary tribute that impacted her overall rendition. She had performed it better earlier in the season. However, no one can begrudge her this chance, and she is far from being a kaiso wild card entry. Congrats to her.

Of those not making the cut Hee Haw might feel somewhat peeved. He was very good on judging night, especially in rendition. He might now be questioning how he arrived at being the 19th best performer among those judged. But lyrically, his Despair and Disunity seemed to be thematic extensions of each other.

There has been much talk about a queen taking the crown in this the 50th year of the country’s Independence and many are pointing to TC once again. She has excellent material in That Golden Age and Tek Wuh Yuh Get. She is star quality and on her performances is deserving of being among the 18. She now has to make it to the final, but for the first time in memory, there is significant competition in numbers for that honour of being calypso queen of Barbados.

The semifinalists & order of appearance:

1 Jamal Slocombe – De Big Show

2. Billboard – The Experience Tent

3. Mr Blood – Headliners Tent

4. Ah-dee-lah – Cave Shepherd All Stars Calypso Tent

5. Adonijah – De Big Show

6. Donella – Cave Shepherd All Stars
Calypso Tent

7. Julie – Super Gladiators

8. TC – De Big Show

9. Apache – The Experience Tent

10. Sir Ruel – House Of Soca

11. Chrystal Cummins-Beckles – De Big show

12. Aziza – Cave Shepherd All Stars
Calypso Tent

13. Ian Iweb Webster – De Big Show

14. Amazing Dre – House of Soca

15. Adrian Clarke – De Big Show

16. Smokey Burke – Headliners Tent

17. Colin Spencer – Cave Shepherd All Stars Calypso Tent

18. Sammy G – House Of Soca

Reserve: Hee Haw – Cave Shepherd All Stars Calypso Tent

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