First Citizens De Big Show was the third tent to be judged by the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) to select finalists to face defending monarch Mr Blood at the Pic-O-De-Crop competition on August 2.
The show had a full house of kaiso lovers and dignitaries such as Minister of Innovation, Science, and Technology Kay McConney, former Minister of Social Care Steve Blackett and his wife Eleanor Blackett, former Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, wife of the former Governor of the Central Bank Delisle Worrell, Monica Drayton-Worrell, representatives of the House of Soca Calypso Tent and Cave Shepherd All Stars Calypso Tent as well as veteran entertainer Smokey Burke.
The show began promptly at 8 p.m. and the first competitor to be judged was veteran entertainer Edwin Yearwood. Dressed in all red, Yearwood received applause before he sang the first line to his song Conversation. The ballad which is Yearwood’s conversation with the youth of Barbados tells them, “You got to rise up, make your momma proud.” Throughout the verses, Yearwood tackles topical issues such as bishops raping children, corruption and white colour crime. When he ended his song on a belted high note, the audience rose to their feet clapping and cheering and begging for more.
Veteran calypsonian Pompey was not before the judges with his uptempo song Your Kadooment Man. The catchy song describes how Pompey would like to become a Kadooment man for a female as he goes down The Mighty Grynner Highway. The audience enjoyed his offering.
Judging continued with newcomer Stiffy who showcased another side of his artistry as he performed Leh We Pray; it’s a passionate plea for people to pray for the island of Barbados.
There is no denying that J-Slo can sing and that he did as he performed Elephant in The Room before the judges. The song discusses how Barbadians blatantly ignore issues plaguing the society and try to sweep ‘the elephant in the room’ under the carpet. He explained that “socially, we are dying” because we have failed to set good examples to the youth. At one point of the song, the band went almost to a whisper so the audience could hear the powerful lyrics and his beautiful tone.
In the second half, J-Slo returned with his up-tempo song Alive which he will perform in the Soca Monarch competition. Members of the audience danced in their seats during his performance. There was also a moving moment as J-Slo rendered a song for Admiral Nelson in his mother’s memory. The two of them embraced along with the Master of Ceremonies Mac Fingall.
Veteran entertainer Ado also got the crowd moving as he performed Bumpa which was not for judging. The song says calypsonians have become too focused on singing about ‘bumpas’ and not about the issues.
Chrystal Cummins-Beckles delighted and thrilled patrons with One Song. It explains the benefits of the change in the Pic-O-De-Crop competition and argues that for years, calypsonians have won with one song since most of the time people can’t remember the two songs the calypsonians performed. She received a standing ovation, with patrons shouting “encore!”
Cummins-Beckles also treated the audience to There Is a God which calls on Barbadians to reflect on the times they have forgotten about God but only remember Him when they are facing challenges. The song was not judged but members of the audience nodded their heads in agreement with its message.
Soca Monarch finalist, AC, gave the audience a taste of what they can expect when he vies for the crown at the National Botanical Gardens as he performed I Like It. Patrons sang and danced along to the groovy soca song.
Skung Yung put down his guitar this year to debut in the Pic-O-De-Crop competition with his nation building song Barbados. The audience sang along with him as he examined how we must get Barbados back to a country where morals and values are respected.
In the second half, Skung Yung showed off his excellent guitar skills as he performed So Happy on the guitar with his mouth. He’ll be performing So Happy at the Soca Monarch competition.
Still revelling after the Spring Garden Highway was renamed as The Mighty Grynner Highway was The Mighty Grynner himself who performed Security. The audience enjoyed his renditions as he did all the antics he’s known for. This song was not judged.
Mistah Dale was next before the judges with Daddy which examined the impact that fathers’ neglect on their offspring. He passionately sang the line, “Daddy, please come back home, make this house a home.” In the second half, he performed his up-tempo song Millions.
Soca Monarch finalist Nathalee gave the audience a taste of what to expect as she views for the crown as she performed Why We Live and Spaces. Both songs were not judged. The audience enjoyed the up-tempo offerings as she showcased her dance moves on stage.
Classic received an encore with the audience going into a frenzy during his performance of One Song which was being judged.
Back in the competition this year is Biggie Irie whose up-tempo song Encore was judged. The song addresses Crop Over and repeats the refrain, “Encore, the people want more.”
Veteran entertainer TC delighted the audience with her performance of Iron Lady which was before the judges. Dressed in a beautiful, yellow gown she described herself as an Iron Lady who has walked through the fire and calls for her to retire, but she has risen higher.
Newcomer to the Pic-O-De-Crop is Marvay who performed his positive, up-tempo song Push And Guh Tru. It advises Barbadians that no matter what challenges they are facing, that they can push through them. The audience sang along with Marvay.
Another newcomer is Joaquin who was before the judges with Karen. Playing on the word ‘caring’, the song reflects on how we need to be a society that cares for its fellow man.
The final calypsonian to be judged was AC with Christmas In Crop Over. He speculated that a lot of gifts will be shared this Crop Over as the competition has changed to one song. The song contains a lot of picong directed at his fellow calypsonians. Closing the night was reigning Pic-O-De-Crop king Mr Blood who performed Head Turner. It speaks about his love for Caribbean women. Members of the audience stood and danced with him as the cast of the First Citizens De Big Show filtered into the crowd to thank the audience for their continued patronage. (LG)