Saint Lucia
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Calypso Artform Still Alive, CMMC Chairman

Chairman of the Carnival Music Management Committee (CMMC) Claude “Popie” Paul
Chairman of the Carnival Music Management Committee (CMMC) Claude “Popie” Paul

With jazz out of the way, all eyes are now on the upcoming calypso season and carnival, plans for both already said to be at an advanced stage.

Attention, however, is centered on the calypso season which, THE VOICE has learned, may come with some warm surprises, despite the absence of a calypso association to agitate on behalf of calypsonians.

Chairman of the Carnival Music Management Committee (CMMC) Claude “Popie” Paul, Wednesday said he has the interest of the artistes at heart and will endeavour to help develop the art form.

Paul, who spoke at the press launch of the amalgamated TOT and Soca Village Calypso Tents, speculated about the possibility of increasing the prize money for the winners, while stating that another winner-category will be included in this year’s challenge.

He noted that government’s annual subvention to the CMMC has assisted in allowing for the further development and upliftment of the art form.

“That contribution has been very significant in that an average of $250,000 is put into calypso by the government,” declared Paul.

Paul said the allocation is to ensure that “calypso stays alive”, despite the many disenchantments that have previously plagued the calypso fraternity. With this development, he said, the CMMC has been able to provide better management with artistes getting paid on time, backup bands, sound system, security personnel and other factors all properly dealt with.

However, he voiced strong concern about the absence of a calypso association on island, stating that the CMMC has had to pick up a lot of pieces to set matters on a level footing.

“The absence of a calypso association is something that needs to be addressed or rectified,” stressed Paul.

He said tent leaders play a different role to that of the artistes and their primary function would be to represent the interest of the artistes.

“I believe there is an urgency for the tents to consider reviving that calypso association so that the interest of calypsonians can be taken care of,” noted Paul.

He also spoke about the recent formation of a Judging Association, which is intended to help improve “the whole judging of calypso and soca, as well.”

The CMMC head said tent leaders have been contacted and new regulations circulated to get feedback from the stakeholders.

Paul says he anticipates that it will be a “bumper season” for calypso, while reiterating that “calypso is not dead, it is well alive and will go from strength to strength …but we must find a way to get that representative body for the calypsonians so that the art form can survive into the next 150 years and beyond.”