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A call for the Spicemas product to be taken more seriously

Scholar - has accepted blame for the ongoing saga over prize structure for national competitions

I believe that what has happened with Boyzie and all these guys this year, we are the cause of it, myself and Inspector, and so on because we have not left a proper legacy (or) framework for them to follow.

Those were the words of Grenada’s 10 times Calypso Monarch, Finley ‘Scholar’ Jeffrey, as he admitted to the failure of himself, and other longstanding artistes to establish a framework like an artiste association to inform the decisions of artistes desirous of participating in the national competition’s organised annually by the Spicemas Corporation (SMC), as part of the country’s premier Carnival event.

Scholar, who has competed for over 28 years, made the remark in an interview with reporters following his winning performance at this year’s Calypso finals, which was held at Progress Park in St. Andrew.

He expressed disappointment with the manner in which 5-times Power Soca Monarch Jalon ‘Boyzie’ Olive took to social media to announce his decision to not defend the 2019 title if the prize money was not increased to $100, 000.00 this year.

“That’s not the way to do it, but they wouldn’t know that you have to give a written proposal…and that’s not what was done, and I can’t blame them because we never show them the way, and so this is what I would like to do to take these younger fellas and see how I can groom them,” Scholar remarked.

After two (2) years of no carnival due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was a disappointing return to Spicemas for Power Soca and Groovy lovers, after the 2019 Monarchs, Boyzie, Dash, and V’ghn opted not to defend the title.

This was one of the issues Scholar touched on during an interview with Dr. Kellon Bubb during the Carnival Sunday edition of “The Bubb Report.”

“Grenada is so competition oriented that if you are not competing then people tend not to want to enjoy your music, which is a far cry from what happens in Trinidad and (elsewhere) and unless we get to that stage then people will always judge the standard of the music by the standard of the competition,” he said.

Also chiming in on the issue was the 2019 Calypso King, Sean ‘Sour Serpent’ Niles, who did not disappoint his fans and defended the title placing third in the competition this year.

The former Calypso King with 18 -years of experience in the business has cited a need for “greater effort to be made to ensure the cream rises to the top when it comes to our music, our culture.”

Speaking of there being people all around the world looking forward to the national shows like the Power Soca Monarch, and Calypso, Sour Serpent added that “going forward in 2023, we need to make a great effort to ensure that we put back ourselves in a place where we are supposed to be.”

Newly crowned Groovy King, Cryave is among those who feel that the impact of the “June 23 elections left little time (this year) for an artiste to create the performances that people (have grown to) expect” from the national competitions.

The first-time Groovy King expressed disappointment with the turnout at the Groovy competition this year, stating the locals should have come out to see those acts, which he believes “really deserved to be seen by everyone.”

“I feel like those who missed the Power, Groovy, and even the Calypso and the Panorama competitions, missed something special because it may not have been laced with the acts that you are accustomed to but the acts who were there deserved your attention,” he remarked.

However, he noted that the prize money conversation is “unavoidable at this point,” noting that “it is staring us in the face and we are feeling the effects of it.”

“I mean, this is my second time in the finals and winning the crown, and I feel like there is a big divide and a big separation, and a lot of us have ideas on how things could go and how things should be but we really need to come together as an artiste and have a union of sorts and really figure out what is the direction that we can go, how can we improve, so that at the end of the day someone like Boyzie who has won so many crowns should be at a position that’s much greater than what he is at this point.

“I mean, look at Machel Montano and the acts in other countries, when they win their crowns they don’t have to do it seven, eight (and) nine times before they can move forward, and that in itself will create a running cycle between artiste and help grow the artiste as well.”

“…I feel like that’s why places like Trinidad have so many artiste recording internationally and representing, we do have that…but I feel like we really need to sit together, and figure out what direction we want to go in, and come to a consensus so that we can all benefit…”

The 2022 Groovy King agrees that the prize structure needs to be upgraded, and is optimistic that this dilemma can be resolved “before the 2023 (season) so that we can see much larger turnouts and competitiveness between the artiste.”

In a statement before the climax of this year’s event, the Minister responsible for Culture, in the newly elected National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell, affirmed the “government’s policy to transform our culture is beyond the seasonal interest,” and acknowledged that “greater emphasis must be paid to developing our Spicemas product, particularly the quality and capacity of our artiste and producers.”

Minister Ron Redhead also committed to holding a “meeting with the minds of all stakeholders,” as early as this week to begin the process of transformation and change in the cultural artform.

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