If we continue to dismiss everything we own soon we will have nothing........
Whether or not you have an interest in Calypso one has to admit that this stalwart has made a significant contribution to the art form in Barbados as a performer, writer and mentor of our youth. This is why I must express disappointment with some of Mr. Bag's recent statements.
MR. BAG'S OPINIONS
It is Mr. Bag's submission that our Pic- O'- De- Crop Competition's music is parochial and does not have what it takes "to go beyond our shores". He further qualifies this by saying that “It is either we’re thinking competition or we’re thinking music for the world". For this reason his focus is no longer on the competition as he now has to think about "getting his music far and wide". This problem is further compounded by the fact that young people are not as interested in traditional social commentary as they are in the Sweet Soca and Party Monarch competitions and that social commentary as we know it is essentially lacking evolution. (see full article here)
POINT OF CONTENTION
These statements raise a number of puzzling issues for me. Mr. Bag has been a professional entertainer for longer than I have been alive. I personally find it strange that, ten Pic- O'- De- Crop titles later and after a successful career of dominating most competition platforms during the Crop Over Festival, he now realizes that he must look "beyond our shores".
More importantly I would like Mr. Bag or anyone else who subscribes to this idea about being "too parochial" and the need to sing music that is "international" or "for the world" to explain something to me.
What the hell does that mean?
Is the popular Rap music speaking about the Bronx and American ghetto issues not parochial? Is the Reggae song talking about life in Trench Town not Parochial? Yet these spaces have taken these issues and made their parochial songs music "for the world". We readily embrace this music as international. So much so that, in total, it is given more radio and promotion locally than our national music.
Mr. Bag has a right to want to make himself more marketable and I am not against the desire to go beyond the competition. I have my opinions about the competition and the impact it has on calypso also, but to say that it is too parochial and not international is a cop out.
The real problem we face is our lack of desire both consciously and subconsciously to embrace our own. Culture is not stagnant and it will never be. The expression of change and the desire to evolve by the youth, which Mr. Bag speaks about, is a necessary component of any society. In fact, if one looks back one will see that Mr. Bag himself was part of an example of one of the cycles of evolution of Calypso in Barbados.
The youth's lack of interest is a failure of this society. It is not as a result of our traditional or parochial music. It speaks to our lack of continuity. It is not only a problem in Calypso but in every aspect of the performing and creative arts.
The youth can't take an art form seriously that is only treated as important for three months a year. The music not going beyond our shores has less to do with its parochial nature and more to do with the fact that the national mentality (including the performers) is that it can go no further.
I agree that evolution is necessary and I think that one of the reasons we have a Sweet Soca and Party Monarch competition is because it is recognized that not every person is interested in traditional social commentary. There is nothing wrong with having a parochial competition. Instead of looking at it as a stagnant sore why not look at it as one of the unique elements of our cultural space. Something which we should be branding and packaging to the world as opposed to importing other people's drivel and then gift wrapping "sun, sea", exclusive hotels away from the natives, "and sand".
Mr. Bag's contribution to Calypso in Barbados is invaluable. It would be unfair of me to imply that he was coming from a malignant place. I, however, cannot support his line of thinking as it represents a wider societal problem which is largely responsible for the lack of recognition, appreciation and support of our culture and art forms.
What do you think?