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Is the Calypso culture dying or dead in the VI?

- scant turnout for Calypso Monarch @ Rita Francis Festiville
The turnout was poor at the Virgin Islands Calypso Monarch held at Rita Francis Festiville in Road Town on July 27, 2016. Photo: VINO
There were, nevertheless, some die-hard calypso fans at the Virgin Islands Calypso Monarch on July 27, 2016. Photo: VINO
There were, nevertheless, some die-hard calypso fans at the Virgin Islands Calypso Monarch on July 27, 2016. Photo: VINO
The Facebook post expressing concern about the poor turnout at the calypso competition last evening, July 27, 2016. Photo: Facebook
The Facebook post expressing concern about the poor turnout at the calypso competition last evening, July 27, 2016. Photo: Facebook
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – Social media has been blowing up with concerns that calypso is dying or already dead in the Virgin Islands, following the poor turnout for the Virgin Islands Calypso Monarch at the Rita Francis Festiville in Road Town last night, July 27, 2016.

Last night was the staging of what many describe as being one of the events of Festival that drew the largest crowd in years gone by. However, with the scant attendance of last night many ponder whether persons have lost interest in the art form in the Virgin Islands or whether persons have chosen to boycott most of the events.

One aspect of the discussion has taken to social media, which suggests that the love for calypso is dying. A Facebook post by Nicki DrummerGirl Wheatly stated: “I went to the calypso show last night and I must say it was great! We should also appreciate the participants who take part every year. However, the crowd was not as much as I expected, is the art of Calypso Dying in the BVI? Or is it already dead... How can we revive and get our younger kids involved in what I consider one of the best events for the Festival Season? Can this be something implemented in our School Music Classes? Something's gotta happen fast, before it's dead altogether....Thoughts?”

Most persons who join in the conversation shared two opinions- that the art is dying if not dead and that it should be taught in schools.

Calypso hanging by a thread

According to Noel Jardine, calypso is hanging on by a thread. “Everyone here wants to rap now. Also, there is barely any young people doing it and you know to a younger audience that would make it look more appealing and relatable. Something like the history of calypso can be taught in music classes,” he said and also added, “To me...festival on a whole needs a revamp.”

Greg Adams shared like sentiments when he said, “Calypso is definitely dying..sad but true.”

He, however, feels that it’s because many depend on the government to keep the art alive. “Like most other things it has been dependent on government for years. Here is a lil secret people...Government can't do everything! With a bit of private assistance, a renewed interest can be generated. How about having calypso tents (not competitions) or reviews throughout the year? There are a number of excellent writers here, we can tap into their skill to write songs for junior performers. Even a summer music camp that would introduce students to calypso and fungi band music. With the right interest generated the art form can be revived.”

Spyce Pryncess thinks calypso is dying all over, noting that the art has fallen victim to soca and other genres which are proving more popular these days. “While calypso shows may be better organised and attended in other islands around the region, I'm sure the artistes would tell you there's declining support for the art form. I like Greg's idea, a summer camp or even at Easter because they need adequate time to prepare. Or maybe added to the music curriculum or offered as an extracurricular activity with a competition/showcase at the end.”

Some persons even challenged the orchestrator of the conversation to put out a call for persons who once excelled in calypso to return. One such person named was Mrs Arliene T. Penn, who is also a talented steel pan player.

Another concern, however, is that Wednesday night is not ideal for the show. Many calypsonians, including Queen Shereen, have called for the competition to be held on a weekend.


In other sections, many are contenting that Festival activities in East End and Carrot Bay are likely to draw a better support this year and predict that Friday’s (July 29, 2016) International Night is likely to be the best for the Rita Francis Festiville.

28 Responses to “Is the Calypso culture dying or dead in the VI?”

  • LADY G (28/07/2016, 17:26) Like (22) Dislike (5) Reply
    Calypso is not dying. They are keeping it the wrong night. It should be the Friday or Saturday night before August Monday. But nobody listens. That's the weekend you have people from all over coming in to enjoy what we have o offer. Something to thing about.
    • not only (29/07/2016, 09:36) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      Not only that. We are brokes and is waiting until payday today Friday to be able to have money to come out. During the week where there was a crowd was because it was free and most of that crowd was young people who that type of music attracted. Older folk want to come out and have money to spend and it's that time of the year when people want to dress and look good. It cannot be done until payday. From tonight you all will see the difference thanks to payday
  • leadership (28/07/2016, 17:51) Like (9) Dislike (1) Reply
    The interest, the inspiration, the motivation, the energy, the care must be channeled from the Top; if that’s not functioning right, everything involve becomes dysfunctional.
    • To Leadership (29/07/2016, 09:55) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
      Don't forget the Resources. These leaders need to provide the proper resources if they truly want to revive the Craft and VI Culture on the whole.
  • Concerned (28/07/2016, 18:33) Like (5) Dislike (5) Reply
    IMO calypso is not dying. Calypso was never a well supported event. Not sure how it was long ago but I have been here over 20 years and the complaints have always been the same. There was a junior calypso competition a few years but not well supported by the schools so as someone suggested it should be incorporated into the music programme.
  • dude (28/07/2016, 18:40) Like (37) Dislike (2) Reply
    Culture is dead period. When you have folks who don't respect the culture influencing the culture it was to be expected. BVI folks are dunce. They accept everyone else's culture and expects theirs to survive magically. Jamaicans Trini's Guyanese Phillipines Chinese everyone else keeps theirs sacred. But we're so dunce we don't think it's Important b/c we hate each other. We love our culture but not as much as we hate each other doing well,

    No Fish fry Fridays, we have jerk chicken on Friday now. No beef patte for lunch we have cheap Chinese food. No mauby we have red bull now. We are even upset that the spate villages have their own festival celebration when that is how it's always been from Village picnic days. Is there PEAS & RICE in the BVI now? Everywhere I go it's RICE & PEAS. BVI ppl never hand rolled dumplings for soup. WE have our own way but these foreign minded folks got confused.
    • one (29/07/2016, 09:44) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      Honest, @ dude, I wanted to come out but I did not have any money. I don't get paid until today so it was impossible for me even though the cost to get in wasn't much. I have 2 children that I also wanted to accompany me and take them to Coney Island but then that would be another cost too. I would have to buy them food and drinks or snacks, i'm sure they would want toys, and even me would want a drink or 2. I don't live in town so that would mean gas. And ofcourse money just in case of emergency. So the problem is more than just not having an interest. Atleast for me, I can honestly say that I did not have any money. From tonight because I was just paid, I will both me and my family will come out. Good points though
  • Its weak. (28/07/2016, 18:54) Like (5) Dislike (3) Reply
    They need better Calypsonians, they need mature Calypsonians and they need to write better Songs. Address the issues.. then people will come out, these men boys who sings got too much thin skin and they don't really love the art. Everything is a problem. Sing Calypso and stop worrying about other stuff. Things will work themselves out..
  • Socrates (28/07/2016, 18:58) Like (9) Dislike (2) Reply
    Is Wednesday nite the best time to put on a calypdo show? No. For maximum participation should it not be held on either Friday or Saturday? Are other genres posing serious competition for the art form? To create interest should it be introduce in schools? Does calyso need more exposure? Would village competition, school competition, and other events outside of Festival help? Is Calyso dying due to lack of interest, competition from other genres, poor organization, poor promotion, scant recognition.......etc?
  • Calypso Lover (28/07/2016, 19:50) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    It so true how can u have a calypso night when the bands playing or singing songs like WE LEAVING ON A JET PLANE a 1960 song when there so many songs around the Caribbean that can be played, how many songs have the BVI artist produce a year. what them should have is a DJ night with 4-6 DJ playing calypso if not from BVI from all the islands because the culture who love the calypso are not BVI lander. BVI people like the North America music cars sports and way of life that the problem.
  • Belonger With A Broader Perspective (28/07/2016, 23:33) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
  • from beyond the walls (29/07/2016, 00:25) Like (5) Dislike (3) Reply
    The minister killed the festival.
  • Peaches (29/07/2016, 02:51) Like (0) Dislike (7) Reply
    Bertrand why u look so boy? Smh!!
    • @PEACHES (29/07/2016, 09:43) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
      Is he a trouble to you? shake your head at yourself and at your own life. Das why I does stay home because people go out minding their own business and spending their own money and by morning their face all over the internet for people like you to scrutinize
    • To Peaches (29/07/2016, 09:51) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
      Leave the Bongo Dread alone. That's Pure Consciousness. Your Jesus would have looked like him if he was real.
  • The TRUTH (29/07/2016, 04:14) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    The festival committe has not payed some calypsonians since last year and yet they had another show. I could attest to that how then you expect it grow .I am not sure if the minister is aware of this will the committee chair giving people a whole set ah round around and hog wash. All u don't let people start here
  • B Real (29/07/2016, 08:25) Like (6) Dislike (3) Reply
    No real talented bands no more. Back in the days you use to anticipate the new riddim and song from bands. Jamband etc never let you down always a new riddim but these current band sound the same. I can't tell the difference between showtime vibe or small axe. Bands her popular cause friends support friends you could be suck but they will never tell you bunch of yes men and yes skets. BUT THE AUDIENCE DON'T LIE LOL THEY AINT WASTING THEIR MONEY ON UTTER RUBBISH BANDS & THAT IS A FACT. How I come to this? The PEOPLE.
    • too real (29/07/2016, 15:57) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
      Folk like you sicken my stomach with that Jam Band talk. Showtime Vibe and Small Axe are three totally different sounding groups. The Jam Band you trynna resurrect can't walk close to what these guys are producing. Had you known a thing or two about music you won't make a complete a$$ of yourself. Friends support friends in any stretch of this earth but cowards like you criticize everything and contribute absolutley nothing. The aforementioned groups can represent their respective countries anywhere for any carnival if you ask me. How I come to this? The PEOPLE
  • flow (29/07/2016, 09:08) Like (2) Dislike (4) Reply
    The last good calypso show is when "Captain Khaled" was in it.. We need him or other young people back. Joyce ain't ready, shereen worst..
  • Listen (29/07/2016, 09:12) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    The truth of the matter is plain and simple, people brokes! Payday for the majority is Today Friday which is the end of the pay month. The numbers that attended village during the week were young people and the events were free. Calypso was a charged event and so the more mature folks who who attend didn't have money for gas, entrance fee plus spending money. The people are simply put brokes!
    • You hit the nail (29/07/2016, 10:23) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      You are so right. You have to host this event the weekend of government payday. Take a page from Mark's book he only have sales on the 15&30.
  • HAHA (29/07/2016, 10:03) Like (8) Dislike (0) Reply
    all you have a point but none of those is the deep routed issue the issue is promotion and interaction---why would you go to a show and you don't even know one of the songs they singing the radio station a at fault big time they don't promote festival it festival season you turn on the radio you still hearing rap rnb festival committee are always late on the ball everything need to be rolled out 2mths ahead of time songs line up promoters activities everyone need to join forces and link up and make each event stronger the songs suppose to be playing on the air waves non stop every shop every corner every you can get into the mood and at lease have a favorite song it has become to routine to just come up with anything and every year they say the same thing you did a good job.. question is a good job compare to what???
    • @HAHA (29/07/2016, 11:00) Like (3) Dislike (0) Reply
      Thank you!
    • @HAHA (29/07/2016, 14:45) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
      In this world you can never please people enough!!! complaining about festival coming up and no radio stations playing festival music....probably the time you turn on your radio the dj switched up the music for a while because I been hearing local band music+Local calypso playing all the time from since late june....The time spend waiting on the radio station you can also use Soundcloud....the bands and other local artist put their work on there too.....stop waiting around to be spoon fed and get up and do something...
      • Really (30/07/2016, 08:01) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
        You are assuming everyone knows how to use modern technology and the latest media apps. The sounds dud come out late plus calypso is a dying art form cause it bare skirts the social issues, everyone singing the same thing just in different arrangements and there's no satire. Pull a page from other Caribbean islands; before you bash my head I don't mean to copy them. Look at how serious they take the craft the writing capabilities the musical arrangements. I remember when Queen Mackeisha went to Trinidad to hone her craft. Try different methods different promotional activities and you'll see the support
  • Eagle (31/07/2016, 14:07) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    @ B Real
    Please keep small axe out of this. Thank you.
  • W*F (01/08/2016, 08:32) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    CULTURE in the British Virgin Islands done dead. Everything belonging to others are held in high esteem except our own customs, traditions and values. We have lost it as a people. Fish and Fungi used to be our territorial dish, now it is Curry and Jerk. How f**** up is that? Platpole, Pope Night, dead. Halloween and Thanksgiving Day much alive. Who the hell are we? We are everybody else, except ourselves. Sad.
  • Freedom od speech (03/08/2016, 18:41) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Festival is bands, troupes, Calypso. Togetherness, Fun and laughter...Too much DJs. Raga is fun and laughter, raga is the Best. Raga is Raga. Like him or not he gave me my money worth and a belly full of laugh at the Calypso show..

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