Following my previous reviews, I believe that the virtual offerings from our soca artistes and certain calypsonians during the recent Carnival 2021 are still credible but only so much.
There is determination though enduring success still awaits. T&T should give them an “A” for effort. The problem is that more than effort is needed.
First of all, our artistes need to see themselves not only vying for a home-based feteing audience but as competitors in international show business. In other words, they have to think about events that will have as many elements of entertainment as possible.
Admittedly, many performers had to use the template of the Carnival fete with all its behaviour and language. However, our artistes need to explore wider possibilities for their virtual concerts. Their error is that they were coming into our homes with neither a notion about our diverse audiences (which included children) nor of their need for longevity.
Nadia Batson, who I adore, had her “Art Form 3 A – A Love Note to Carnival” jointly with her group SASS. She had support from Voice, Terry Lyons, Shal Marshall, Farmer Nappy and Lyrikal.
Nadia is a great composer and a good singer. So, whereas the show could have been very telegenic it lost some impact because there was not the sense of a studied production. Her stage setting was fair though the space could have been better used. Content and programming needed to be tighter.
My further disappointment was that several of the shows which followed, though initiated two or three years ago, had become clones of themselves. This meant that while the producers had some experience at their disposal, they had similar flaws.
I viewed Preedy’s, “Chance, the Origins”, Blaxx & D’ All Starz’s “HARMONY 3”, and Patrice Roberts’s “Strength of a Woman—Reflections”. Each had supporting acts drawn from the same pool. Too many of them were dressed almost identically, as though they were all coming from a succession of fetes and had to perform their gigs quickly before moving to the next event.
In essence, many contemporary soca artistes and calypsonians have not been concentrating on fulfilling themselves as international entertainers. If only the current artistes could study Sparrow, Black Stalin, Machel Montano and David Rudder in concert. If only they could allow themselves to be inspired by the late Aubrey Adams or Sprangalang, Jessel Murray, Andre Tanker, Eintou Springer and Rawle Gibbons. If they would only collaborate, research their art, audiences and their environment, they would be more successful.
There are many success stories in the T&T and Caribbean Diaspora from which our artistes may draw their inspiration. Billy Ocean (Leslie Sebastian Charles) is an exemplar.
If our performers are so inclined, they may study at The Department of Creative and Festival Arts at The University of the West Indies, St Augustine where there is a wealth of information and tuition. Or they could go to UTT and read for the degree of Fine Arts in the Performing Arts.
Perhaps, they may be able to raise their standards and perform better throughout the next few months with their goals set not only on Carnival 2022, but on making our local performing arts a fixture in world entertainment.