April 17, 2002 – The future of calypso music in the Virgin Islands found itself in good hands Tuesday night at the 2002 Junior Calypso Competition as 15 young performers sang, danced and found a hundred different ways to use the word "roogoodoo."
Junior calypsonians perform songs of their own creation, developed with the help of adults who visit them in the schools to encourage their interest in this art form. At showtime, they brought social commentaries, rollicking jams and salutes to Carnival's 50th anniversary.
A large contingent of fans from Joseph Gomez Elementary School sprouted little flags as their favorite, Princess Lyrics, strutted across the stage in an energetic performance of her song, "Three Cheers for 50 Years." Toward the end of the number, she reached into the top of her white boot, whipped out a flag of her own, and waved back.
Lord T in the Secondary Division was a class act, dressed in a white suit and derby, performing the "Roogoodoo Jam." Makeba Leonard introduced a new dance as part of her song, "Do the Roogoodoo." Former Junior Calypso King Kysa Callwood pranced across the stage in a gold lame suit and brought two back-up singers of his own age to punch up his chorus, "If you want to survive, you have to keep our culture alive."
Many of the tunes caught on with the crowd. A grandmotherly fan in a straw hat thrust her hands in the air and bounced to the music while two giggling girls tried over and over to form a conga line.
But there were also messages of a sober nature from the younger generation for Carnival season, such as the one sung by 12-year-old Kychelle Clark about child molesters: "You wan' touch me here, You wan' touch me there … Don' touch me no more."
Kychelle, whose stage name is Lady Clarkie, went on to win the Intermediate Division. She said she wrote the song with the help of famed songwriter Nick "Daddy" Friday, "because every day you open the newspaper and read someone got raped."
At the end of the night, the judges named Lady Fyah the winner in the Secondary Division for her dance tune,"Fyah," and Lady Makeba the winner in the Primary Division.
Nearly a thousand people turned out to cheer their favorite contestants. Teachers, parents, brothers, sisters and friends filled the seats in front of the Lionel Roberts Stadium stage. The show also attracted families visiting from off-island.
Juliette Joseph and her son Kareem Douglas cued up at a fried chicken van during intermission. They came from California for Carnival and decided to take in the free night of calypso. "They're great," Joseph said. "I can't believe it. They really have a lot of nerve to get up on the stage. It's something I can't do, but they're really talented."
Among those taking photographs of the performers was one of the territory's top calypsonians of recent years, Louis Ible Jr., the three-peat V.I. monarch in 1996-98. His camera was focused on Lady L, who placed second in the Intermediate Division. Her real name is Lyenn Ible, and yes, there was a father's pride in seeing a tradition carried on.
(Ible said last year that he might consider coming out of retirement after St. Clair DeSilva — "Whadablee" — also became a three-peat king. But he decided not to challenge Whadablee, who will seek his fourth crown on April 25. At one of the calypso tents this year, Ible said he had mixed feelings watching the competitors. "It's kind of hard, because when I'm standing
there, there are people coming up to me, asking me if I'm performing," he said.)
Tuesday night, few seemed as pleased as Carlito Kean, head of the Youth Promotion Division of the Department of Human Services. He leaned on the pillar of a camera platform with a big grin, applauding every act. "We've been sponsoring them for about five years, I guess," he said of the youngsters, explaining that Human Services provides the costumes for the young calypsonians. "This has been some of the best money I've spent. It works because of the volunteers in the Carnival Committee and the musicians."
Kean said the show also succeeds because of the number of youngsters who come to the stadium to watch the young singers and the number of parents who come to be with their kids. And that, he said, is something you don't see everyday.
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