Former St. Vincent and the Grenadines Calypso Monarch, Fya Empress brought the house down Saturday night during the launch of Vincy Mas in New York.
Fya Empress, whose real name is Lornette Reid, mesmerized the crowd at Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn, with several hits from her repertoire.
The 2017 Vincy Calypso Monarch had patrons jumping and whining to, among others, her signature “I am a Vincy;” “Ah Catch It;” “No Money No Wuk;” “In Excess;” and “Rum Please.”
Besides being an erstwhile Vincy Calypso Monarch, Fya Empress was Ragga Soca Monarch and Road March Winner, and three-time Tobago Soca Monarch.
Her performance Saturday night was preceded by performances by calypsonians from the Brooklyn-based Dynamite Calypso Tent, the lone Vincentian calypso tent in New York.
Ron Pompey, who is celebrating 40 years of calypso, rendered “Ruck De Party”; “Miss Ting Ting”; “Whine Maria”; “Banana Police”; “Shake”; “Sit Down, Sit Down”; “Ah Bussing It”; and “The Fireman”.
John “D Truth” Dougan, president of the Dynamite Calypso Tent, sang “So Glad I Waited”; Hibiscus, who trekked from Philadelphia, sang “Things Not So Bad Afterall”; Hilford Hurst was concerned about “Text Maniac” and urged patrons to “Let’s Do It”; Wise Guy told the crowd, “We’re Going to Have Some Fun”; Leon criticized “Dem Internet Crazies,” evoking boos from some opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) supporters; and Man Kemmy, a former Junior Calypo Monarch in Vincy Mas, proclaimed “Ah Feel to Soca.”
Man Kemmy also brought much poignancy to the event when he collaborated with 11-year-old Zacary James, of the Edmonton, Alberta-based Melisizwe Brothers, for an impromptu rendition of Machel Mantano’s “Too Young.”
Man Kemmy told patrons that he was at Zacary’s age when he began singing calypso, stating: “This is the next generation.”
The Melisizwe Brothers, with their Vincentian-born parents in tow, were surprise guests at the event. The other brothers are Marc James, 16, and Seth James, 13.
Mom Sherry McDowall-James, formerly of Argyle in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, told Caribbean Life that they were in town for another event, so they decided to drop by. Dad Mark James hails from Upper Fair Hall in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The almost day-long event also featured live steel pan music by Brooklyn’s Century Steel Orchestra, pannist Wayne Commissiong, costume displays and modeling. Popular Brooklyn-based Vincentian DJ Supa Eyes provided music.
In addition, food vendors, offering authentic Vincentian cuisine, and entrepreneurs with Vincy products, beauty products, fashion bags and books, were on hand.
Other displayers included the St. Vincent and the Grenadines New York Tourism Office and Caribbean Airlines.
A Kiddie Corner featured face-painting, games, arts and craft, photo booth, and costume mask-making for children.
The Brooklyn-based SVG Diaspora Committee of NY, Inc. and its affiliate, the Cultural Association of Vincentians in the USA (CAVUSA), in collaboration with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Carnival Development Corporation (CDC), hosted the event.
Sherrill-Ann Mason-Haywood, chairperson of the SVG Diaspora Committee of NY, Inc., told Caribbean Life that the launch “attracted scores of Vincentians and non-Vincentians alike.”
She said patrons experienced “a taste of Vincy Mas, the hottest carnival in the Caribbean”, urging them to continue supporting Vincy Mas, and cultural artistes and practitioners.
In her remarks, Mason-Haywood noted her group’s partnership with the CDC to host the launch of Vincy Mas in New York, saying that it is in its “embryonic stages and is poised to get bigger and better in years to come.”
She added that the Diaspora Committee is “committed to promoting all things positive about SVG,” stating that St. Vincent and the Grenadines “has some of the best cultural artistes, including musicians, pannists and costume-builders in the Caribbean, and are now among the leaders of the soca music industry.”
Mason-Haywood thanked performers and patrons in New York for “making the launch festive and enjoyable.”
St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ US Consul General Howie Prince, also a cultural figure in his own right, heralded Vincy Mas for its “exceptional
celebration of pan, kaiso and mas in the June-July sun,” urging patrons to visit St. Vincent and the Grenadines to participate in the festivities.