By Keino Swamber Tuesday, March 4 2014
Roderick Gordon, known in the soca arena as “Chucky” is the 2014 National Calypso Monarch. Singing “Wha Yuh Think” and “Wedding of De Century”, Gordon emerged ahead of a field of mostly veterans to take home the $1 million prize at the Queen’s Park Savannah on Sunday night.
At 26, in his third outing to “The Big Yard”, he is one of the youngest calypso monarchs in the history of the competition. Others who preceded him were Karene Asche (2011) and Duane O’Connor (2012). Defending monarch, Eric “Pink Panther” Taylor, singing in position number one, finished in 11th position with his compositions “De Richest Man” and “Not Tonight”. Bringing up the rear in 12th position was Roger “Bodyguard” Mohammed whose 2014 season was mired in controversy when his song “False Papers” was deemed unacceptable by former National Calypso Monarch Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osuana who is the manager of the Calypso Revue tent. Mohammed’s other song “The Aloes Vendor” threw jabs at Osuana accusing him of being a “sell out”. Placing second was former monarch Kurt Allen with “Sweet Sizzling Summer”, a song which many may have underestimated at the semi-final round at Skinner Park on February 22, and “The Lost Psalm of King David”. Coming in third was Selvon Noel, singing under the sobriquet Mistah Shak, who went into the finals as a crowd favourite with his popular composition “Bois”. He also delivered “Crime Round De Clock”. Shortly after being announced the winner at about 1 am, Gordon, who was crowned Independence Calypso Monarch in 2012, described the victory as a “bittersweet” moment because his father Roland Gordon was not present to share in his success. Roland, an arranger, cultural activist, and calypso judge, passed away in January, 2010. “I worked hard for this in his memory and I tried to execute everything he taught me over the years,” Gordon said.
He told reporters he believes it was his mix of political commentary in “Wha Yuh Think”, written by Larry Harewood, and social commentary in “Wedding of De Century,” written by Ray Holman, Fazad “Uncle Joe” Shageer and himself, is what propelled him to the top of the pack. The first calypso touched on the pressures brought to bear on this country’s first female prime minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar who, since May 2010, has struggled to keep a five-party coalition Government intact. With all that she has had to go through, Gordon reasoned what is wrong with her “taking a sip” to ease the tension of political life. The lyrics were cradled in a very melodic and infectious musical arrangement and enhanced by Gordon’s clear diction and delivery. The second song celebrated the marriage between Chutney music and Soca in an elaborate production featuring tassa, pan, East Indian and African dancers in the wedding procession.
The rendition was warmly appreciated by the audience in the Grand Stand. Gordon plans, within the coming year, to establish his own music studio. He is a graduate of the University of the West Indies (UWI), St Augustine with a BSC in Social Work and is a student at the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School of Business, Mt hope reading for a MA in Human Resource Management. Gordon admitted the road to success has not always been an easy one and he is advising those following in his footsteps that nothing comes easy. “Trinidad and Tobago is a very unique place and you have to have the wherewithal to be able to function here as an entertainer.” His mother, Glenda Gordon, said she was elated by her son’s victory. She told Newsday her late husband would have been very happy to see what their son had achieved. “He’s looking down at him right now,” the proud mother said.
The show, which celebrated the 100th year since the first calypso was recorded, started promptly at 7 pm with an R&B style recorded rendition of the National Anthem. This was followed by a medley of calypso classics by the Lydians Choir featuring several soloists among whom two were children of calypso greats. They were Karen Francisco, daughter of Slinger Francisco “The Mighty Sparrow” who appeared as a guest artiste later in the show, and Krisson Joseph, son of the late Sedley Joseph “The Penguin”. Included in the medley were Gypsy’s “Sinking Ship”, Sniper’s “Portrait of Trinidad”, King Austin’s ‘Progress’, Valentino’s “Stay up Zimbabwe”, David Rudder’s “1990” and Duke’s “How Many More Must Die”. The chutney classics also featured prominently including Sundar Popo’s “Nani and Nana”.
Celebrity Masters of Ceremonies, four- time Olympic Winner Ato Boldon and Miss Universe 1977 Janelle Penny Commissiong-Chow, made way for host Errol Fabian who introduced all 12 contestants in both rounds of the competition. In fine form in the first half were Mistah Shak, Victoria Cooper (Political Love Affair), Alana Sinette-Khan (Sea Lots), Chucky and Kurt Allen who sang in position number 12. In the second round, Brian London (Call Them Out), Kurt Allen and Chucky were the ones who stood out. The competition ended at midnight and was followed by several guest artistes including 2014 National Schools’ Soca Chutney Monarch Aaron Duncan, Junior Calypso Monarch Ronaldo London, nephew of Brian London, Natasha Wilson and Sparrow who delved into his expansive repertoire and delivered “Jean and Dinah”, “Lizard”, “Melda” and “Drunk and Disorderly”. The crowd showed their love for the bard who, in September last year, was in a coma at a hospital in New York.
1. Roderick “Chucky” Gordon - Wha Yuh Think / Wedding of De Century
2. Kurt Allen - Sweet Sizzling Summer / The Lost Psalm of King David
3. Selvon “Mistah Shak” Noel - Bois / Crime Round De Clock
4. Dr Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool - Ah Miss De Bards / De Guest List
5. Brian London - The Heart of a Warrior / Call Dem Out
6. Victoria “Queen Victoria” Cooper - Political Love Affair / Congo Warrior
7. Alana Sinette-Khan - Sea Lots / And Calling It Rain
8. Weston “Cro Cro” Rawlins - Pious, Poor But Proud / Goodness Delayed
9. Carlos “Skatie” James - Calypso Woman / Jack and Jill
10. Myron “Myron B” Bruce - One More Sip / First Black Prime Minister
11. Eric “Pink Panther” Taylor - De Richest Man / Not Tonight
12. Roger “Bodyguard” Mohammed - The Aloes Vendor / False Papers.