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Bacchanal, Controversy, Drama all Part of Carnival – Hilaire

Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire
Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire

The annual Carnival season always comes with its fair share of controversy, drama, revelry and rivalry which hypes up the festivities.

And as usual, the judging criteria is one of the major points of contention, particularly as it relates to adjudicating at the Kaiso and Soca Monarch competitions, respectively

Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire feels that the judges have shown a measure of stability and deserve the right to exercise their authority in that regard. He stated that, “You can’t have carnival if you don’t have Bacchanal, so that’s established …”

“It is the season for this …you cannot have carnival without some excitement and some bacchanal,” Dr. Hilaire told reporters recently, at a media briefing.

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“There are two times in our cultural life when we have the most contention and issues, is campaigns (political) and carnival. So, you take it as it is …and you deal with it and you move on,” he added.

Responding to the judging criteria involving the Kaiso and Soca competitions, he said, there was a time when the judging panel consisted of a musician and other like –minded persons in the music business and so on.

“We have evolved past that, there is a criterion and you have people that are trained to be judges and there are seven judges,” explained Hilaire. “The two extreme causes are removed to avoid any biases and (open to) subjectivity…and you trust the judges.”

He noted that the “live performances” stir up plenty of debate, but however, “the judges’ decision is final”, and people must learn to accept that despite their objections.

“The judges are the ones we chose to make the decisions, and we are free to criticize and to express our opinion …and that’s part of it. That’s the colour and the excitement of carnival,” declared Dr. Hilaire.

He said there’s a distinctive line that separates the “People’s Choice” awards from the judges’ decisions and that should be respected.

“People vote for their favourite calypso …but their favourite calypso might be a low-scoring calypso (judges’ decision), but it has a line that really piques everybody and everybody likes it,” he added. “But, in terms of the structure of the song …or whether the singer is in tune when (he/she) is singing, it might be totally off. But people might like the song.”

Said Hilaire: “We must enjoy the season and express our opinions …there is nothing wrong in disagreeing and expressing your opinion, you just don’t disrespect and offend people in doing so.”

Commenting on the inclusion of more young contenders into the Kaiso art form, noting especially that at least two (2) of the veteran artistes, namely Herb Black and TC Brown are in the lineup for the Kaiso Monarch, this year, he remarked: “We’re delighted to see younger persons and new comers…are now making it to the finals.

“We had the Junior Monarch – the school’s competition, which was really good and you’re encouraged to see that. So having more entrants in it and them moving forward, can be either of two things … some of the veterans are falling back, and so you are seeing a shift in generation as well.”

Dr. Hilaire asserted: “So it’s good to see your younger persons getting involved, and it’s also good to see the number of women that are involved.”

In an effort to further develop the art form, the minister recalled, last year he introduced a prize to recognize the writers of the different songs, “because you need to be able to sing and perform a song, but it has to be arranged and you need to have good lyrics.

“Because calypso is really about (the) construction of a story and how it’s put together, and how it is performed and it is arranged. So, it is not just one dimension , and we have to continue to encourage …in terms of the lyrical content of songs and song writing.”