With clearly less controversy that had bedeviled the inaugural New York Vincy Independence Calypso Competition last year, Dennis Bowman, perennial finalist in the national calypso competition in Vincy Mas, Friday night re-captured the New York Vincy Independence Calypso crown.
The veteran calypsonian won the crown in a field of five other contenders at Café Omar on Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn-based Dynamite Calypso Tent, the lone Vincentian calypso tent in North America, organized the event.
Singing “Take Care of SVG,” Bowman garnered 270 points — eight points ahead of his closest challenger, John “D Truth” Dougan (“For a Brighter Future”). Delano “Detector” Crawford (“Welcome”) placed third, with 244 points.
Other contenders were: Kenroy “Jakie” Jack (“One Day”); Vincent “Groovy D” Kennedy (“We Different”); and Francis “Stryker” Brown (“How Independent Are We?”).
Earl “Exposer” Isles and Gregory “Brother Don” Oliver were listed to compete but did not appear. Meryn “Bob MC” Bobb gave the opening prayer but also did not compete.
“It’s always a great feeling to come out on top in any competition,” Bowman, who tied for the third spot with Shenell McKenzie in the National Calypso Monarch Competition in Vincy Mas 2015, told Caribbean Life afterwards.
“I knew I had a powerful song,” he added. “It was just a matter of going up and making a great presentation on stage, and that I did.”
In “Take Care of SVG,” Bowman urges that “every man, every woman, every child must work together as one to make a better St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
He also appealed to local politicians to “come together and stop the fussing and fighting.”
Bowman’s feat this year was a far cry from the inaugural competition in which he was declared the winner, with “Not Giving Up,” in a field of 11 contenders, amid much controversy.
Last year, some elements of the audience, at the same venue, did not hesitate in withholding their displeasure by booing when the top three spots were announced, by co-Master of Ceremony Hailes Castello.
Castello was again this year’s co-Master of Ceremony, along with Bennett Straker, but did not announce the results. Radio Personality Lady M, an associate of the Dynamite Calypso Tent, did so.
In the augural competition, Franklyn “Supadex” Richards, who rendered “All Ah We Ah Vincy, and Brother Don, who sang “Bring Back Vincy to We,” had placed second and third, respectively.
But Ainsley Primus, president of the Dynamite Calypso Tent, had told Caribbean Life afterwards that the auditor apparently erred in tabulating the results.
Primus said then that, while Bowman was the clear winner, based on the judges’ score, Richards and Brother Don should have placed lower down the order. The judges were Monty Constant, Samuel “Kala” Gordon and Cauldric Forbes.
This year’s judges were veteran calypsonian, cultural ambassador and ex-St. Vincent and the Grenadines diplomat Cyril N. “Scorcher” Thomas; Vincent “Vince” Harry, a member of the leading defunct Vincentian band Asterisk; and Phil Nichols, the Guyanese-born keyboardist with the popular Grenadian-owned band in New York, Lambert and the Matadors.
Without disclosing the respective position of John Dougan (“Our Independence”) and Exposer (“Fight Back”), Primus said last year that they should have placed higher in the competition, based on the judges’ tabulation.
But, this year, apart from dissention from a handful of fans – as could be expected in any competition – most patrons appeared very satisfied with the results.
Bowman, the now two-time Vincy New York Independence Calypso Monarch, also warmed the hearts of patrons on Sunday, performing before a sell-out audience during St. Vincent and the Grenadines 36th Anniversary Independence Gala Luncheon at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn.
Primus said Bowman’s appearance, as winner of the Independence Calypso Competition, was “negotiated” with the Brooklyn-based umbrella Vincentian group, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Organizations, U.S.A., Inc. (COSAGO), which organized the event in collaboration with the New York Consulate General.