Calypsonian Spicey (Tammico Moore) took Minister of Community Development, Culture and the Arts Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly to task over late Carifesta XIV artiste payments at the opening of Kaiso House calypso tent on Friday at the Queen’s Park Savannah in Port of Spain.
Spicey compared Gadsby-Dolly, who sat in the front row at stage front, to a “smiling Cheshire cat” during a drop-jaw performance of her Carnival 2020 National Calypso Monarch contender “My Honesty”.
The Marabella-born performer said the lack of communication between the ministry and artistes over the tardy payments brought out the “Ah-Soul in me”.
She noted that she was paid by the ministry in late December 2019, four months after her performance at Carifesta.
Just maybe I was AH-SOUL
Tuh work for Carifesta
I was proud to represent, time fuh payment
I get that late December
And not a call or an update from the Ministry
But Dolly smiling like ah Cheshire cat on my TV
But when ah hear de price of the cake
Right then is where mih honesty just awake.
Over the past two months several creatives have publicly voiced concern and frustration at the ongoing slow payments for their performances and work at last year’s Carifesta XIV.
The regional showcase was staged, for the fourth time, at venues across Trinidad and Tobago from August 16 to 25 in 2019.
The Ministry of Culture previously faced criticism over the purchase of a 32x40-inch $4,000 cake which it bought from Kiss Baking Company to celebrate the success of Carifesta.
A week ago, Trinidad Rio (Daniel Brown) attempted to voice his concern over the Culture Ministry’s handling of Carifesta payments directly to the minister in front of a packed audience at the opening of the Back2Basics calypso tent at Roslyn Hall, Auzonville Road, Tunapuna.
Rio has since been paid by the ministry.
Gadsby-Dolly subsequently told the Express she found Rio’s brief “intervention to be in poor taste”.
The veteran bard was stopped by former minister Anil Roberts from commenting further on the night.
The Culture Minister said with thousands of payments to process the going was initially slow and was eventually halted by the end of the financial year in September 2019.
“After the close of the financial year, which would have meant a mandatory one-month break for budget, we resumed payments. Any queries etc, would result in longer wait times for those so affected, and of course we paid as much as we could based on releases.
“Having paid hundreds of artistes, we are at the tail end of payments and working assiduously to tie up all still outstanding,” Gadsby-Dolly said then.
Spicey, however, called on Gadsby-Dolly to “show some respect” when dealing with the cultural practitioners of the land.
She advised the minister to pay calypsonians early to avoid being named in their songs.
Three months pass, I eh see no pay
Ah take mih honesty and I went down dey
Because in all honesty...Months, mih cheque eh ready
But Dolly dress up out dey, in she monthly salary
In all honesty...Ah know she can’t take picong
She shoulda pay mih early na yuh doh end up in mih song
In all honesty...Show some respect
It simple, I perform, just bless mih with mih cheque
Is when ah gih dem mih honesty
That’s when dey does see AH-SOUL in me
All that in calypso
Spicey, who blew a kiss at the Culture Minister after the performance, said a true calypsonian should place the responsibility of being the mouthpiece of the people above making favourable statements to win titles.
“For me, ah kaisonian is supposed to be fearless. Ah kaisonian is supposed to be the voice for the voiceless. We are supposed to reflect the cries, happiness, strength, power, hurt and pain of our people.
“We supposed to report, review and most importantly entertain because when we happy we should express that too you know,” Spicey told the Sunday Express via WhatsApp yesterday.
Spicey said while some calypso performers prioritise title ambitions over rocking the proverbial boat she has adopted a policy of honesty with her music.
“I know for a fact many artistes like me face a lot of pressure just trying to survive as a calypsonian, but not all of them really willing to stand and say when something is affecting them. Someone has to do it, I have always been this frank, people say brave, some say bold and I say I’m just being honest. Being honest keeps me mentally healthy,” Spicey said.
Hip hop act is calypso
Earlier, rapper Chromatics (Richard Raj-Kumar) shocked the audience with a rib-tickling, singalong ditty about infidelity that turned out to be the performance of the night.
Matics, as he is called in local hip hop circles, sent the tent into total disarray with his scandalous hook line on the comical double entendre “Outside Man”.
They sang along verbatim with the charismatic lyricist:
She say I is de outside ma, woi
Say she begging me for the ride
And she say ah cyah come inside
She say yuh cyah come inside
Yuh cyah come inside at all
Former national calypso monarchs Singing Sandra (Sandra Des Vignes-Millington) (2003), Karene Asche (2011), Duane O’Connor (2012) and Chuck Gordon (Roderick Gordon) (2014 & 2015) also impressed on opening night.
Sandra and Gordon called for love and peace to prevail in the face of a spiralling national crime rate with “One Day Without A Murder” and “Wrong War”, respectively.
Asche, meanwhile, preached the value of perseverance with “Winners Never Quit”, while O’Connor, dressed in Catholic priest robes, set about detailing what was acceptable and unacceptable inside of a church with the tongue-in-cheek “Not In Here”.
Soca/calypso teenage star Aaron Duncan also enjoyed a strong debut at the legendary tent with the existential question of “Why Are We Here”.
The young bard reasoned the true value of life lies in helping and uplifting each other.