Hollis ‘Chalkdust’ Liverpool

A new rule enforced by the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO) which disallows calypsonians from singing a new rendition in the finals of the Calypso Monarch competition is not sitting well with four veteran calypsonians who see the move as a way to “muzzle and stifle” their freedom of speech and force the old heads out of the industry.

Yesterday, calypsonians Hollis “Chalkdust” Liverpool, Eric “Pink Panther” Taylor, Carlos “Skatie” James and Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osuna were up in arms with TUCO’s 2020 directive that calypsonians who advanced to the finals of the competition on Dimanche Gras night must not deviate from the songs they sang in the preliminary round at various tents earlier this month.

This meant that calypsonians would not be allowed to deliver a new calypso on the big stage, as was done in the past.

This led to Aloes, Skatie and Pink Panther of Kalypso Revue not offering themselves to be judged this year.

Angered by the move, Aloes called on all calypsonians to boycott the Calypso Monarch.

Chalkdust believes the new ruling was an orchestrated plot to get the “old heads out” of the industry.

“They (TUCO) are saying that calypsonians can come with a new song that might be too libellous and can be a courthouse matter and they could be in trouble because they could be charged because they run the show. That is their excuse for it,” Chalkdust said.

He said a good composer would be able to detect libel so TUCO’s argument was baseless.

“I think it is a way to muzzle calypsonians. That is destroying the creativity of calypsonians. That is the art form where people can come out late and hear a new song. They are throwing out the baby with the bathwater.”

The nine-time Calypso Monarch champ wondered who in “TUCO came up with that foolish idea. The entire Caribbean is laughing at us.”

Customary for delivering new songs in the finals, Chalkdust said if he wanted to sing about a breaking development on stage he could not.

“If something new happens with the coronavirus or we wanted to sing about the murders we cant sing it. I feel chained because this is the first time this has happened in the 53 years I have been singing. I am disappointed.”

Pink Panther said TUCO’s decision was taken at a meeting last year among its members.

“The membership decided that but I don’t have to agree with it. I just don’t like their rules. That is against the spirit of calypso.”

He too agreed that calypsonians were being muzzled and stifled.

“It is not a way to muzzle…it muzzling you because you cannot be contemporary. If something major happens before the finals you cannot sing about it. The way they moved there they have some plan afoot. I am watching with an eagle eye. What drives you to say that calypsonians must not sing a new song in the final?”

A furious Aloes said TUCO was doing everything to silence their freedom of speech.

“I hope calypsonians would have the gumption to leave this blasted competition alone. I hope these calypsonians boycott the competition. The whole flipping system corrupt,” Aloes said.

Skatie said TUCO has to get its act together.

He said the results of the competition has always been shrouded in secrecy.

Contacted yesterday, TUCO’s president Lutalo “Brother Resistance,” Masimba said TUCO had not received an official complaint from calypsonians on the matter.

“Registration for the competition opened since December and as far as I know everything is stated clearly in the rules and everybody who competed in the preliminary round would have signed an agreement as having read and understood the rules,” Masimba said.