Harry Belafonte and Maya Angelou headline that list and the celebrity line-up also includes Slinger Francisco aka The Mighty Sparrow, along with Trinidad and Tobago’s R&B stars Billy Ocean and Tony Wilson, the latter a foundation member of British group Hot Chocolate, which had a number of hits in the 1970s.
Sparrow is also expected to perform during the show.
The theme of Dimanche Gras— “100 years since the first vocal recording of Calypso: from Julian Whiterose to now”— focuses on an important piece of calypso history. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the first vocal calypso recording by Henry Julian, who sang as Julian Whiterose and also The Iron Duke.
This project was launched during a function held by the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO) on Thursday evening at Jaffa Restaurant at the Queen’s Park Oval, which was attended by members of the calypso fraternity, TUCO officials and National Carnival Commission (NCC) chairman Allison Demas and other NCC officials.
The show is regarded as a fitting tribute to the Calypso Monarch competition, which returns to Dimanche Gras after last year’s version which removed the competition from the show.
It was felt that show was poorer with this omission and as such was heavily criticised.
This year the show reverts to the format of previous years and will see a return of the 12 Calypso Monarch finalists, including the defending Monarch, performing two songs. Each contestant will have a maximum of eight minutes on stage.
Dimanche Gras begins with a pre-show at 6 p.m., with the official start taking place an hour later.
The pre-show will feature pan round the neck, and there will be drummers and traditional mas characters such as moko jumbies, Dame Lorraine, blue devils, midnight robbers and pierrot grenades entertaining patrons throughout the venue. Rapso, dancers, a choir and an Extempo war will also be a part of the show.
Performances will also come from the Extempo champion, who will perform a verse on the theme of the event and introduce the masters of ceremonies.
There will also be performances from the International Soca Monarch, Junior Calypso Monarch, Chutney Soca Monarch and other top calypsonians.
Also expected are appearances from the King and Queen of Carnival and well-known steel pan soloists.
There will also be tributes to calypsonians like the late Lord Kitchener, Sparrow, and also old-time calypsonians such as Railway Douglas, Roaring Lion, Atilla de Hun, King Radio, Growling Tiger and others.
Also planned are tributes to calypsonians who have made the breakthrough on the international charts, along with tributes to women in calypso, from the days of Lady Trinidad up to the present time.
A souvenir booklet on the Centenary of Vocal Recording will also be available on the night of the show.
After hoping for, but not securing, the services of celebrated masman Peter Minshall to produce the show, it is understood that Carl “Beaver” Henderson and Gregory McGuire have been approached as producers.
A line-up of celebrity MCs is planned and the now traditional display of fireworks to end the entire event at midnight.