PORT OF SPAIN – Calypsonian Cro Cro (Weston Rawlins) has been ordered by High Court Judge Frank Seepersad to pay (TT) $250,000 in damages to local businessman Inshan Ishmael for defamation.
The defamation took place when Rawlins, a former calypso monarch, performed one of his songs titled “Another Sat is Outside Again” on stage during a competition last February.
In his ruling on Monday last, Justice Seepersad said that the art form of calypso was a dying one, and this was possibly because members of the public were no longer willing to spend their hard-earned cash to attend calypso tents where they may feel insulted by lyrics.
“Unfortunately, and for far too long, divisive content and lyrics which fuel racial tensions or attack portions of the population have been performed at calypso tents and at national competitions. This has not augured well for the viability of the art form and, as a likely result, calypso tents are now virtually empty,” the judge added.
At the trial, Rawlins testified that he was singing of no one in particular but was simply pointing out some of the unlawful acts that were being committed by some businesspeople.
However, in his ruling, Justice Seepersad said while Rawlins did not make actual mention of the name “Inshan Ishmael” in the song he eventually admitted during a radio interview, after the claim was filed, that he was in fact singing about Ishmael and was able to cleverly disguise Ishmael’s name.
Ishmael claimed that because of the lyrics, he was being viewed as a criminal, a racist and a thief.