Controversy at Calypso Monarch show as Montano wins the crown

The 2024 Calypso Monarch competition held at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Trinidad last Sunday night, stirred up both excitement and controversy as the judges of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonian Organisation (TUCO) announced their decision.

Machel Montano

The competition showcased 12 calypsonians, each vying for the prestigious Calypso King title.

In a surprising turn of events, Machel Montano, known primarily for his soca prowess, emerged victorious with his rendition of “Soul of Calypso” verses, rooted in the historical evolutionof music, propelled him to the top as the modern-day king of soca and thus deserving of the calypso crown.

His compelling performance captivated the judges, leading to his triumph despite his temporary hiatus from the soca scene for academic pursuits.

Karene Asche
Helon Francis

Runner-up Karene Asche expressed a different opinion, suggesting that Montano’s win was influenced by his fame rather than the quality of his song.

Asche, a former monarch herself, delivered a thought-provoking composition titled “No Excuses”, which focussed on social  problems such as poverty and crime.

Roderick “Chucky” Gordon claimed the third position with his poignant calypso, Charlsie,which called on King Charles for reparations from Britain to its former colonies. Despite its powerful message, some critics felt that the delayed clarification on the theme overshadowed its impact.

Kurt Allen

The remaining competitors, including Mical Teja, Helon Francis, and Stacey Sobers-Abraham, showcased their talents with diverse themes ranging from cultural identity to social justice.

 However, controversy arose with the placement of Dillon Thomas, the Tobago monarch, who finished last despite TUCO’s decision to bypass the Calypso Fiesta to ensure Tobago representation.

Notably, Winston “Gypsy” Peters,unconventional critique of societal issues failed to resonate with the judges. Brian London’s composition, “Hell,” also sparked discussion as it criticized TUCOs support policies, raising questions about fairness and transparency in the judging process.

 Apart from the judging, the Calypso Monarch show serves as a platform for artists to engage with Trinidad and Tobago’s cultural landscape. The event provokes thought and reflection on societal issues, showcasing the multifaceted nature of calypso as a medium for social commentary.

As speculation looms regarding Montano’s potential return to the calypso monarch competition in 2025, the competition itself   underscores the enduring significance of calypso in Trinidad and Tobago’s cultural identity.