Crystal’s rollercoaster year

2016 has been a rollercoaster year for calypsonian Crystal Cummins-Beckles.

She has experienced insurmountable highs, but she has also had to deal with some difficult lows that threatened to halt her participation in any Crop Over related activity.

She placed fourth in the Pic-O-De-Crop competition; she had a baby, got married and won the Queen of Queens regional calypso competition in Montserrat for the third time, in that order. But in the midst of all that, she lost her grandmother at the start of the year, and her grandfather in the latter half.

Here, Crystal, holding her son Kajae Holder, is congratulated by her family. In the back row from left are her husband R-James Holder, her assistant Jennifer Young and her friend Shelly Tender. Sitting with Crystal in the front row are her aunt Coral Cummins, her mom Cyrillene Cummins holding Crystal’s step-daughter Aria Holder and her cousin Donika Shepard.

“2016 was up and down. The year started off OK [but] I lost my grandmother in April. She basically raised me . . . and losing her was sudden.

“I was seriously contemplating not doing Crop Over while pregnant, but thank God I had a fantastic team who made sure I wasn’t stressed out. Going through the season pregnant was not easy at all, Kajae [her son] came on September 10th, a little earlier than expected, so that kind of shifted things for me. In November I lost my grandfather,” she explained.

“The day after my son was born I received Songwriter of the Year and that was a big achievement for me too. Then I got married on December 17th, then I left and went to Montserrat and won [the Queen of Queens title]. So it was a fantastic year for me.”

However, Cummins-Beckles said she was pleased the year was ending on a positive note.

“Overall it was great. I had the winning songs in [the] Junior Monarch [competition]. I feel really good about this year. It was up and down yes, but I am happy that it has ended on a fantastic note, and I could not have done it without my team,” she said.

With regards to winning the regional competition for the third time, Cummins-Beckles said she was shocked but over the moon.

“I feel very great, very shocked, but happy that I was able to go and defend for the second time. Winning the crown three times for Barbados is a great feeling for me since I’m the only person in Barbados to do it,” she said following an intimate welcome home ceremony at the Grace Adams Suite at Grantley Adams International Airport last night.

While winning three in a row was not easy, the talented calypsonian admitted it was exactly what she wanted, and she was willing to do whatever it took to bring the crown home again.

“Defending is never easy because people coming for you. The first time I did it I was like, ‘if I win or not it’s no big deal’, but when I won again I knew I really wanted the three-peat. I knew if I did that I would make a decision if I was going to go again. I’ve done something no other woman in the Caribbean has done before and I did it representing Barbados, so I feel good about that,” she said proudly.

Cummins-Beckles pulled off the treble with Wake Me Up, which she performed in last year’s Pic-O-Crop competition and Caribbean Unity, a new song which was completed last Saturday, just four days before the Wednesday December 28 contest at Festival Village in Montserrat.

“I was waiting on Gabby because I felt like he was the only one I wanted to touch the song Caribbean Unity. I had to wait until he was finished with all the overseas 50th anniversary celebrations . . . I spent an hour rehearsing the song. Everyone now calls me a perfectionist but I had to get it right,” she explained.

As to whether she plans to seek a fourth straight title, Cummins-Beckles was uncertain, saying she would decide sometime in the New Year.

She said she had learned lessons from her ups and downs in 2016, the biggest of which was not to allow stress to overcome her.

“Being less stressed is best. I realize now it’s best if I just let someone else take over,” she said.

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