Opinion: The Voice delivers wake-up call to rivals as he defends Montserrat calypso crown

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Keithroy "The Voice" Morson won his fifth Montserrat calypso monarch title and defended his crown.

He received a rude awakening in the first round . . . then left his defeated opponents in his wake.

Keithroy “The Voice” Morson fended off a valiant challenge from Roland “King Kenzie” Johnson on Wednesday, December 29, 2021, to retain his Montserrat calypso crown and secure bragging rights in a much-hyped rivalry.

Unlike last year when the show was a virtual affair due to COVID-19, the Montserrat Cultural Center featured an audience this time, albeit with social distancing. And the crowd was treated to one of the most entertaining Finals in years.

The Voice, who earned $10,500 for the win, accomplished two major milestones:

▪ He is the first to repeat as Montserrat calypso monarch since Anderson “King Andy” Kirnon in 2005.

▪ He captured his fifth overall crown in Montserrat, tying Everton “Reality” Weekes for second-most all time behind Justin “Hero” Cassell’s 10 titles.

The Voice garnered 1,395 points – 26 more than three-time monarch Kenzie, who earned $7,500. Newcomer Kimani “Proklaimer” Kirnon was third, followed by Steve “Iceman” Weekes and Herman “Cupid” Francis.

“Kenzie raised the fire in me,” Morson told Radio Montserrat the morning after his victory. “Not since Antigua have I felt this type of anxiety and pressure.”

The “anxiety” came in the first round when Kenzie, in his first Finals since 2012 and singing at position No. 5, delivered his first song Come Back And Sing. It was a routine performance until Kenzie threw in an extra verse aimed directly at The Voice. It was met with resounding applause.

The Voice came next and capably rendered his song Let Us Rebuild but it was virtually unanimous on social media that Kenzie had won the first round. Whether coincidence or by design, the fact The Voice and Kenzie appeared back-to-back added spice to the competition.

In the second round Kenzie – perhaps sensing he was ahead on points and not wanting to commit any unforced errors – delivered a fairly straightforward rendition of Crazy World. Other than video clips, Kenzie did not utilize any props during his two performances. The Voice followed with his 2021 signature song Don’t Wake The Bear and reclaimed the advantage, adding an extra verse that whipped up the crowd. It surely benefited The Voice that he performed after Kenzie in the second round and got the final word in their back-and-forth stage banter.

By that time it was clear that the 12 other calypsonians would be battling for third place. There were some credible performances but some of the performers may have been burdened by the lofty standard established by the two front-runners.

King Kenzie, a three-time Montserrat calypso monarch, returned with a bang but fell just short of his fourth title.

REST OF THE TOP 5

3. Kimani “Proklaimer” Kirnon ($5,500): He easily won the Best Newcomer award. The son of former monarch King Andy performed with confidence and has a bright future.

4. Steve “Iceman” Weekes ($4,000): The two-time monarch is a terrific storyteller. For the third year in a row his topics were focused on his personal plight, particularly his well-penned Left For Dead. He could have perhaps mentioned others undergoing similar struggles in order to garner wider appeal.

5. Herman “Cupid” Francis ($3,000): The veteran utilized word play once again for his song Branding and earned Most Creative Song, an award he has dominated. His second song Mental Health featured an excellent presentation.

THE OTHERS (All received $2,000)

Maggie “Maggie D” Destouche: She has a wonderful voice and received two well-written songs from Everton “Reality” Weekes. But amid a competitive field she got lost in the shuffle.

Trevon “Trevvle” Pollard: The reigning Groovy Soca monarch is a good showman but like last year his songs featured mediocre lyrics propped up by flowery melodies. If he collaborates with a seasoned writer he could be a force.

Kenneth “Yogi Laser” Greenaway: He won Best Agricultural Song for Gimme Back Me Land but couldn’t duplicate last year’s Top 5 finish.

Kelvin “Tabu” Duberry: Tabu said in a recent interview that he cares more about getting his message out rather than winning the crown. He again addressed climate change, an important topic but one that has not resonated with the populace.

Silvina “Khandie” Malone: Her second song I Hate Cancer was a personal one and she seemed to get emotional and had a few mishaps. She won Best Environmental Song for Be Part of the Solution Not The Pollution.

Franklyn “Algie” Greaves: His rendition of Ruler I’m Sorry was excellent but he had a few stumbles with his second song Virtual Fete, which won Best Festive Song nonetheless.

Shane “Lord Caesar” Caesar: The Power Soca Monarch winner had a credible calypso Finals debut and has a decent voice. He seems to love the art form and yearns to go further.

Ozie “Ozie Blue” Carty: Ozie, who has a large following on social media, had a fair debut despite some hiccups. He should be commended for urging veteran calypsonians to return to the stage in order to raise the standard. It worked.

Joseph “Pops” Morris: The 2002 calypso monarch opened the batting but struggled to get off the mark.

ODDS AND ENDS

▪ Yes, the show was entertaining. But at a whopping seven hours it was way too long. Some measures could have been taken to condense the show such as curtailing the stage time for guest artists and placing a time limit in between performances.

▪ I don’t agree with the decision to award $2,000 to all calypsonians who finished from sixth to 14th place. In that group some were clearly much better than others.

▪ Leading up to the finals there was chatter about a boycott by some calypsonians who wanted the show to be held outdoors. But in the end money talks.

▪ Backup singing has been inconsistent over the years but Ronel White and Adena Johnson performed well, especially considering they had to learn 28 songs for the Finals.

▪ In closing, it is quite amazing – and refreshing – that The Voice (De Bear) and Kenzie are still at the top of their game almost 35 years after making their debuts in the competition.

MY AWARDS

Best performance (tie): “Don’t Wake The Bear” by The Voice and “Come Back and Sing” by Kenzie.

Best written song: “Left For Dead” by Iceman.

Best presentation: “Mental Health” by Cupid.

Favorite song of Carnival: “Come Back and Sing” by Kenzie.


OTHER AWARDS

Crowd Favorite: Come Back And Sing, Kenzie, $250

Creative Calypso: Branding, Cupid, $500

Most Improved: Sakawinki, What Should I Do, $500

Social Commentary: Left for Dead, Ice Man, $1,000

Festive Song: Virtual Fete, Algie, $500

Agriculture Song: Gimme Back Mi Land, Yogi Laser, $500

Environmental Song: Be Part of the Solution Not the Pollution, Khandie, $1000

Melodious Song: Come Back And Sing, Kenzie, $500

Newcomer: Proklaima, $250

Best Arranged Song: Left for Dead, Ice Man

Best Written Song: Don’t Wake De Bear, The Voice, $500

Best Health Song: Mental Health, Cupid, $500

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

Click here to see complete list of Montserrat Calypso Monarchs.

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