‘De Voice’ can’t be silenced, captures third Montserrat calypso crown in a row and sixth overall

3
1491
Keithroy "De Voice" Morson is crowned by reigning Miss Montserrat Nia St. Claire early Friday, December 30, 2022.

The “rivalry” is officially over.

Keithroy “De Voice” Morson captured the Montserrat calypso crown for the third year in a row early Friday, December 30, 2022 at Festival Village in Little Bay. In the process he vanquished his duel with Roland “Kenzie” Johnson and took home the EC $10,000 top prize.

“I think I’ve finally put the rivalry to rest as far as who is better than who,” Morson said as he celebrated with supporters after the show. “But I hope the rivalry continues as far as me and Kenzie continuing to put out good calypsos.”

Morson – who is best known as “De Bear” but has used the nickname “De Voice” in Montserrat since 2020 – added to his already impressive calypso portfolio. He won his sixth Festival/Carnival crown in Montserrat, putting him in second place all-time behind Justin “Hero” Cassell’s 10 titles. He is also just the third calypsonian to win three in a row in Montserrat, following Alphonsus “Arrow” Cassell (1974, 1975, 1976) and Everton “Reality” Weekes (1978, 1979, 1980). No Montserrat calypsonian has won four in a row.

“I’m not surprised at the results,” said Morson, who also won the William “Ruler” Murrain Crowd Favorite award, Most Creative Song (Hard Like A Diamond), Best Vocalized Song (Hard Like A Diamond) and Best Stage Presentation (Ah Shoulda). “I’m glad that these guys came out and pushed me.”

Keithroy “De Voice” Morson performs Hard Like A Diamond in Round 1.

Morson and Johnson, who both hail from the East of Montserrat, have been competing in the calypso show since the late 1980s and forged a rivalry of sorts in the early 1990s. The volcanic crisis eventually led to both men migrating – Morson to Antigua and Kenzie to the UK. The rivalry was rekindled last year when Kenzie competed in the Finals for the first time since 2012. The two penned songs aimed at each other and created intense hype for the Finals, which was won by De Voice, with Kenzie first runner-up.

Kenzie returned to the competition this year and released You Little Short Fella, a tune squarely aimed at De Voice. But on Finals night, he was plagued by technical issues that saw him have to restart both his songs. He finished in fourth place and earned $4,000.

De Voice performed in the final position (10) in both rounds, giving him a headliner-type aura, and he didn’t disappoint. His first entry, Hard Like A Diamond, was well-rendered with a solid presentation that featured two elderly people lamenting the cost of living.

De Voice then closed the curtain on the show with Ah Shoulda, which was gift-wrapped for Kenzie. Dressed as an undertaker, De Voice arrived with a coffin in tow. The crowd reaction gave early notice that De Voice likely would retain his crown.

For most of the year, De Voice had stated that he wouldn’t be defending his crown. But in the end he’s happy that he reneged.

“I really wasn’t planning on competing,” says De Voice, a six-time calypso champ in Antigua and three-time Leeward Islands monarch. “I’ve been competing for 22 years straight. I’ve never missed a finals. I was getting tired, my brain was getting tired. But I’m happy to know that I can maintain my standard and that I’m still good at my craft.”

As opposed to last year when the top two seemed a foregone conclusion, there were some other formidable entries this time. Veteran Garnett “Sylk” Thompson ($8,000) was first runner-up with two profound social commentaries, Cry of Injustice and No Confidence. Second-year performer and blooming star Kimani “Proklaima” Kirnon ($6,000) was excellent with No Regret and Jumbie Dance. Steve “Iceman” Weekes ($3,000) closed out the Top 5 behind Kenzie.

The remaining finalists all received $2,000. They were Herman “Cupid” Francis, Silvina “Khandie” Malone, Peter “Maddie” Sullivan, Kelvin “Tabu” Duberry and Baptiste Wallace.

Three-time calypso monarch Roland “Kenzie” Johnson finished fourth.

THIS AND THAT

▪ A show slated to start at 8 p.m. did not get underway until 9:30 p.m. That is inexcusable. Also, technical difficulties with the sound system during the show forced at least three performances to be restarted. Not a good look.

▪ The Montserrat Arts Council needs to find a way to safeguard point totals from the Eliminations and Semifinals. Although points are not announced publicly, they are often leaked. Finding out one’s points and standing can have a psychological effect. For instance, a calypsonian who finds out he or she squeaked into the Finals knows it is virtually impossible to win with the same songs. 

▪ Backup singing has been vastly improved this year. It is an area I have complained about for years and it appears to have finally been addressed.

▪ It seems some veterans continue to reach the Finals based on reputation rather than merit. Calypso judging will always be subjective, but some decisions from the semifinals were simply mind-boggling to me.

▪ Recycled melodies continue to be an issue.

▪ ComeSeeTV provided excellent stream of the calypso shows and I didn’t experience much buffering like past years.

▪ Cancellation of the local female calypso show and Miss Montserrat queen show was disappointing and appeared to be the result of poor vetting.

▪ I cringe sometimes when calypsonians blare out “Lord!” for effect during performances. It feels superfluous and blasphemous, even though that is not the intent.

▪ It was great to see Everton “Reality” Weekes performing some of his classics before the show, including Woman Come To Jam and Struggle. The years have also been kind to him.

▪ Nia Golden must be commended for her documentary on the history of Montserrat calypso, titled Calypso, Love Nia.

The irrepressible Basil Chambers was once again Master of Ceremonies. He hosted his first Montserrat calypso finals in 1987.

MY AWARDS

Best Social Commentary: Land By The Sea, Ozie Blue

Humorous song: De Tool, Maddie

Best performance: Ah Shoulda, De Voice

Best presentation: Ah Shoulda, De Voice

Most Creative Song: Children of the Sixties, Cupid

Best Written Songs: Too Far Behind, Iceman, and No Confidence, Sylk

Favorite Song of Carnival: Iron and Parang, Warda

Surprise Hit of Carnival: Nice Groove, Lady Shay

Calypso crowns by De Bear (De Voice)

Year EventSongs
1985Montserrat Jr. CalypsoSlavery (one song)
1992Montserrat FestivalBack to Basics & Face The Truth
1993Montserrat PilgrimageCome Home (one song)
1993Montserrat FestivalThe Time Has Come & Show Respect
2002Antigua IndependenceMan Is Dust & Help
2007Antigua CarnivalI Say No & Support Party
2007Leeward Islands CompetitionI Say No & Man Is Dust
2010Antigua CarnivalLeopard Come Home & Don't Sing Bout de Judgment
2011Antigua CarnivalMelee For Sale & We Get The Change Ivena
2012Antigua CarnivalTime To Take Our Place & Freedom for Mandela
2012Leeward Islands CompetitionTime To Take Our Place & Freedom for Mandela
2014Montserrat FestivalDon't Forget Your Juliet & Got To Go
2015Antigua CarnivalCan't Stop The Bear & Sing A Different Song
2015Leeward Islands CompetitionCan't Stop The Bear & Sing A Different Song
2019Antigua CarnivalLet The Master Show You & On A Ray Of Hope
2020Montserrat CarnivalBy Faith & Call Daddy
2021Montserrat CarnivalLet Us Rebuild & Don't Wake The Bear
2022Montserrat CarnivalHard Like A Diamond & Ah Shoulda

3 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for the great commentary as usual Edwin. For persons like me who are unable to be at home, it is a blessing. Continue the great job. All the best!

  2. The judge’s decision is final but I’m happy to read your final awards on the overall calypso competition. It was sad to see for our 60th no Queen show and no women’s calypso competition. A lot of planning needs to be done as of 3/1/23. A lot can be said but would reserve a later date. I’m always impressed with your commentaries and with the importance of how much researching put into your article. It seems like I was right there back in the day growing up around Haycene, Alford and the Roman Catholic school yard. Nice job again, Edwin.

  3. There was no technical issue for Kenzie in the second round. He was beaten and he knew it, and as such he was rattled. Most people in the park would tell you that he faked the microphone issue. Don’t take my word for it, ask a few people, you are a good researcher. Kenzie was actually fortunate to place as high as 4th to be honest.
    I counted 18 crowns for Mr Keithroy “De Bear” “De Voice” Morson. Kenzie has no pedigree to claim to be in the same league. We should all encourage him to stop with the direct references to Mr Morson, and concentrate on trying to beat young Proclaimer and Silk.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here