By Lincoln DePradine
Since the festival was brought to Canada by Caribbean nationals, residents and visitors that enjoy carnival in Toronto expect the Caribbean to be amply represented in the festival activities, such as at the grand street parade and steelbands’ competition.
This year, the Caribbean is being furher highlighted in a non-competitive show that brings together outstanding performers from various regional countries.
The show, dubbed “Calypso Extravaganza 2019’’, is being hosted by the Organization of Calypso Performing Artistes (OCPA).
Tara Woods, president of OCPA, is inviting broad public support for the event, which is Sunday, July 28.
“I want patrons to come out. Bring your flags, bring your rags. Represent your island,’’ she said in an interview.
The Extravaganza is a replacement for the Calypso Monarch competition that hasn’t being organized since 2016, when it was won by Connector.
Trinidad-born Connector is one of the artistes performing at Sunday’s Calypso Extravaganza. So, too, is Tobago-born Woods, whose stage name is Macomere Fifi.
The cast for the show also includes several other Canada-based calypsonians who migrated to Canada from countries such as Grenada, Saint Lucia and Barbados.
As well, there will be visiting artistes such as Helon Francis, 2018 Calypso Monarch of Trinidad and Tobago; and King Ajamu, former Road March winner and nine-time Grenada Calypso Monarch, who is “a big favourite around the Caribbean and North America’’, Woods said.
The performers will be accompanied by the band, Ossie Gurley & The Truth.
“The theme of the evening is, ‘One Caribbean Family’. And, that is why we have chosen calypsonians that represent different islands of the Caribbean,’’ Woods explained.
“You’ll expect to hear different accents; you’ll expect to hear people being proud of whichever island they come from. But, at the end of it all, we are one Caribbean family, one big ‘famalaylaylaylay’. That is how we’re going to end the evening by just showing pride in being Caribbean people, since this is a Toronto Caribbean carnival.’’
Sunday’s Calypso Extravaganza is from 5 pm at St Peter and St Paul Banquet Hall, 231 Milner Avenue, Scarborough.
Woods, who has been OCPA president for two years, said she is focused on recruiting new members to the organization.
“OCPA is membership-based organization. It has been around for over 40 years and it thrives on its membership,’’ she said. “If the membership is not there, if the membership is not participating, then OCPA is going to die.’’
Woods also would like to see OCPA returning to staging a Calypso Monarch competition.
“I myself love competition. I have won the title here six times. I would love to do it six more times,’’ said Woods.
Tickets are $40 in advance of the show and $45 at the door.