COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of three major street parades for the summer in New York until at least September 30—the Dominican Day Parade in midtown Manhattan, the San Gennaro festival in Little Italy and the Labor Day parade in Brooklyn.
Despite impacting stakeholders in the Carnival industry financially, artistes have adapted to the ‘new normal’ coronavirus conditions and health and safety protocols and are taking part in virtual concerts whenever they get the opportunity to do so.
Guardian Media spoke yesterday to reigning Calypso Monarch Terri Lyons and 2020 Power Soca Monarch Neil Iwer George who usually are involved in the event to find out how much the pandemic has impacted the industry.
Terri Lyons said, “It hits hard because it hits your pocket just like everybody else. It hit our pockets more, even though some places have been able to reopen, but some artists are still considered kind of non-essential, we might have to remain that way for a while.
“I won the National Calypso Competition this year and would like to reign properly, but due to circumstances beyond our control, I would take human life over a plane ride and performing any day.
“Despite taking a hit, I’m still finding ways to keep myself active because I have the Terri Lyons Virtual Calypso Fest which I stream through WACK Radio.
“When people donate, we use that money for the calypsonians that perform they walk away with that money. We’re honouring Allrounder tonight. Let’s be real; you don’t see many companies using calypsonians as ambassadors.”
She said citizens usually watched the Skinner Park performances on television and they can do the same thing in the comfort of their homes with their cooler at a virtual concert.
Lyons said she was also working on a senior citizens home in San Fernando.
Yesterday was Iwer George’s birthday, he said COVID-19 will make entertainers get richer and refine their music because the whole world was being reset and restructured properly.
George said, however, a lot of the old ways had to change because of the size of the industry and the country’s population, the only way to succeed was through consolidation.
He said virtual concerts, the Netflix formula applied to radio, sports channels and clubs playing to empty stadiums and live streaming events, the digital world, social media and fan sharing were the new world.
George said he already did virtual concerts before, on June 20 his Social Distancing radio event attracted 16,000 people worldwide and there were over 40,000 people watching Soca Monarch on Pay-per-view worldwide.