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Calypso Monarch champ: Art form still relevant
Roderick “Chucky” Gordon, who captured the 2014 Calypso Monarch title at Sunday’s Dimanche Gras show, defended the political nature of his songs, saying this is what has historically driven the calypso art form in T&T. “People say moving from the semifinals in Skinner Park to the Dimanche Gras is primarily political songs. Nine or ten of the 12 songs were political, including mine. That is where the art form stems from. The calypsonian has always been an emblem of resistance, against the established order,” he told the Guardian yesterday. Gordon said the calypso art form still remains “relevant” despite criticisms in some quarters that it may be dying. “I dealt with the issues in the songs, the challenges of the People’s Partnership, the instability of the Government, the fact that the Prime Minister travels a lot. She has difficult individuals to keep in control. The music is doing what it supposed to be doing as calypsonians remain the voice of the people,” he said.
He has a “serious issue” with how T&T’s society treats culture and he argues that young people are not aware enough to keep the culture and traditions alive. “Historically we have not considered adequately what it means to be Trinbagonian and all we do in this country is operate in vacuums and silos. There is lack of affiliation to each other and disconnectedness. So everything just happens. The young people are not aware of what is going on. There is no one saying this is how the art form is going to be transformed,” he said.
He described the competition on Sunday as “tough.” “I did not expect to win because of the stiff competition. I won the semifinals at Skinner Park but that is different from the Dimanche Gras as there is a different audience and atmosphere,” he said. He spoke about social media like Facebook and Twitter and the comments on his song Wedding of De Century, and said people are “unaware” because of their criticisms of his song. “People say it is a chutney song and I was singing for my supper. It is not that. This song was meant to show the melting pot that T&T is. It is a vibrant song that reflects kaiso and pan. Yes, it has elements of chutney but it is marriage of all that this country stands for,” he said.
Despite challenges, he said the entire production of the Dimanche Gras show was good. “To put on a show of that magnitude and skill in nearly impossible. Having to use the same venue as Panorama and set up the screen lighting and sound and run it efficiently is not easy. But they did that in one day and I consider it a miracle,” he said. He called on the Government and cultural leaders to come up with “strong policies” to educate people about the culture of the country and how to preserve and market it. “There must be more local content in our culture. Then there will be less ignorance as people will see their own culture and have pride in themselves,” he said.
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