After highly impressing the audience at the launch of Vincy Mas in Brooklyn last month, Fya Empress was at it again Saturday night, as she was, unequivocally, the crowd’s favorite during the preliminary judging of Vincentian calypsonians in the Big Apple.
The former St. Vincent and the Grenadines Calypso Monarch, whose real name is Lornette Yoland Nedd, was, clearly, “head and shoulders” above the 11 other contenders, based on the crowd’s reaction, in the judging of the Dynamite Calypso Tent, the sole Vincentian calypso tent in the United States and, perhaps, in North America, at Nazareth Hall in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.
Calypso and soca fans roared their superfluous approval during and after Fya Empress’s high-vaulted performance before five judges, who travelled to New York specially to adjudicate the first tent in the calypso competition for Vincy Mas. They were: Daniel Hall, Early Paynter, Ronny Dowers, Vin Stewart and Aubrey Gould.
Though there were other veterans in “the ring” — such as D Man Age, John ‘D Truth’ Dougan, Exposer and Dennis Bowman — it was patent that none matched Fya Empress’s rendition and stage performance.
Singing at no. 9, the 2017 Vincy Calypso Monarch belched out “Solidarity,” with remarkable aplomb, in, unmistakably, raising the bar for Vincentian calypsos in the US.
“Let’s show true love for humanity / If the good Lord loves you / Remember He loves St. Vincent and the Grenadines, too,” she sang to applause.
“The journey started with Ebenezer Joshua / He’s the first chief minister/Mitchell and Cato (James Mitchell and Milton Cato, former prime ministers) came after,” she added.
Afterwards, Master of Ceremonies Atiba Williams could not hold back his delight in remarking: “That’s one to watch for in 2019. I tell you, Dynamite (Calypso Tent) coming strong for 2019.”
Fya Empress — a former Ragga Soca Monarch and Road March Winner in Vincy Mas, and three-time Tobago Soca Monarch – is renowned for her signature hit “I am a Vincy”, as well as others in her repertoire, such as “Ah Catch It”; “No Money No Wuk”; “In Excess”; and “Rum Please”.
Besides her, D Man Age, John ‘D Truth’ Dougan, Exposer and Dennis Bowman, other contenders Friday night were: Hilford Hurst (Hilford); Kenroy Jack (Jakie); Allan Marshall (Field Marshall); Oscar James; Delahanty Isles (Delahanty, Exposer’s daughter); Michelle-Ann Hillocks (Hibiscus); and Ramos Diaz (Jose Juan).
Former Vincy Calypso Monarch D Man age, whose real name is Errol Rose, acclaimed for his biting social commentaries, provided a “Road Map,” telling patrons: “You can be all you can be / Just stay away from negativity / Just keep hope alive / Don’t ever give up the fight.”
John “D Truth” Dougan, president of the Dynamite Calypso Tent, “Let Them Know” the truth, stating that “So many bad things are happening / So please sing a calypso for me.”
Exposer, whose real name is Earl Isles, sang against “Rebellion,” urging the youth to reflect on their lives.
“Looking back how you put your life in misery / You looking for somebody else to blame / Life is no game / But put yo life straight,” he sang.
Bowman, a frequent contender in either the semifinal or final for the Calypso Monarchy in Vincy Mas, was deeply troubled by “The Truth.”
Singing at no. 12, he proclaimed, sarcastically, that “the truth don’t matter anymore,” adding: “They never agree with the airport/Creating confusion for everybody.”
Hilford, the first to grace the stage, urged “Let’s Do It,” singing: “If you really love me/stop behaving bad / let’s do it.”
Jakie, rated by many in the audience as the best dressed Vincentian calypsonian in New York, made it clear that “They Can’t Stop Me.”
Donning military fatigue, Field Marshall wanted to get rid of the “Demons”: “Demons running here (in St. Vincent and the Grenadines) /Time to get them out / They destroy the banana industry / To put the farmers in misery.”
James, co-founder of the defunct Vincentian band Affetuosos, in the 1970s, blasted the “Taxman,” stating that “Value-added tax too high /Too much tax on food and clothes/Listen to the poor man’s cry.”
Delahanty expressed concern about rampant gossip or “Commess”: “Anything people hear, they talking / Commess is a Caribbean thing.”
Hibiscus, a former Vincy New Song winner in New York, who trekked from Philadelphia, asked the audience, “Can You Hear Me Now?”
“Ah want you to hear what I have to say / The attendance at the park is embarrassing / Even in Trinidad and Tobago they suffering,” she sang.
And Jose Juan sang that, while “It (‘s) Hard,” doing the right thing “is the best thing to do.”