After 35 years of toiling in the wilderness of the entertainment field and the calypso circuit, Sandy Pointer Richie Buntin managed to secure the coveted title of Calypso King of St. Kitts and Nevis. And though there were many who rejoiced over his coronation, he equally had his detractors who argued and still are, and will forever claim that the crown belonged on the head of one of the other competitors.
Buntin won the crown with a score of 617 points, only 16 points ahead of the veteran Lord Kut, on 601 points, the First Runner-up. The Second Runner-up slot was given to Singing Jackie whom they awarded 586 points while allocating 570 points for Astro in the Third Runner-up position.
No place was found for King Socrates, Diva, Rudder and Alamoulu, the four other finalists.
For many, it was a competition not of the highest standards, and the poor turnout of fans for the show could give support to that belief. It was not the usual packed audience, with too many empty chairs visible on the grounds and in the permanent stands. While the Queen pageant would have attracted about 3,000 on Friday, only about half that number of spectators bothered to journey to the carnival Sugar Mill for the calypso bacchanal.
Most of the calypsonians had one song of reasonable quality but their second selection was paltry. It therefore meant that scoring high in the first round was very important and the presentation in the second round required consistency and extra antics to make a difference if they were to spread the distance between the other contenders.
Though the debate over Buntin’s victory will continue, no objective observer could claim that he was not superb in the opening round; delivering his rendition with the usual class, voice control, clarity, diction and a flow of well put together lyrics. Socrates was also pretty good in the first round and so too was Singing Jackie, Rudder and Lord Kut. Jackie was thought to have made a fierce challenge in the second round and so too did Astro, who decided to flip his selections to present his much stronger calypso in the second round.
By the time the competition was over, the buzz amongst the crowd favoured Singing Jackie and Astro, with others giving mention to Diva. But as it goes in calypso, the judges’ decision is final but not, it seems, for the fans of Astro and Jackie in particular.
Already the politics of the competition has come into play, with many claiming that Buntin was compensated for his pro-government song, in which he gave his reasons to have full confidence in the incumbent Administration.
Buntin’s song was the only such selection in the contest and weeks before in the calypso tents and elimination he was criticized and booed when he appeared on stage to present his pro government tune, at a time, they say, when there is so much anti-government sentiments and a call for the debate of a motion of no confidence that has now gone one year, since its filing on 11th December, 2012.
There were also charges of foul with the high placing of Lord Kut. After 41 years in the field, this is the very first time that he was able to gain a place in the top three positions. This has been a remarkable year for Kut, who is a former Junior Calypso King, and his success as First Runner-up has become a rewarding feat for a calypsonian who has brought so much joy and entertainment to fans over the past 4 decades.
Both Kut and Jackie started their careers around the same time, in 1973 when the Junior Calypso Competition was launched and like Kut, she too had been on the hunt for crown ever since, at the senior level. When she led the pack coming out of the Semi-finals, many thought that this would have been her year; but it was not to be. Her fans were very vocal, expressing their displeasure and asking, “What more must the woman do to win her crown. How much longer they gon continue to cheat her?”
But one other way in which many fans felt cheated last night was related to the lack of an MC. Yes there was an announcer on stage (Kevy Kev) who tried something different by playing music between the breaks, but not delivering the usual jokes and crowd interaction associated with a calypso competition, as would a Calypso Reggie, Sugar Bowl or Sandra.
This type of MC was indeed missing and as fans left the grounds they made known their dissatisfaction that that new approach made the show “boring”. And it did have those moments. This must be something to be examined by the Carnival Committee for next year. None of the MCs involved during the months of calypso tents were contracted. The Committee, instead of hiring one of these experienced MCs, they turned to DJ Kevy Kev. “Quite a mistake,” said one spectator!
Make no mistake however, the newly crowned Richie Buntin, will be maximizing his enjoyment as he begins his one year reign. It was on J’ouvert morning during a media interview when he predicted, “this will be my year”. And so it was.