By Demion McTair. Updated 6:30 a.m., Wednesday, July 8, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).
Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – Four artistes who participated in the finals of the recently held virtual Ragga soca, Soca, and Calypso Monarch competitions shared their views about the events with One News SVG in an exclusive on July 7.
One News SVG met up with winners of the Calypso competition – Shena Collis and Chewalee Johnson, along with Lance ‘Da Vinci’ Chapman, and Theron ‘TwiXx’ London. Here are their views in response to questions asked:
How do you feel being part of such an historic event?
Da Vincy: “I thought it was terrific actually. Quite happy to have been in it event though the others ran pass me. It was a wonderful experience, I learned a lot, even at this time in my life, I’m still learning”
Shena: “The show was a very great show, a good initiative to get artistes to display talent despite the pandemic. Good move, good show”.
Chewalee: “I was in two categories, the ragga soca and the calypso, it’s always a pleasure to perform for the masses. The was the main reason for me entering the competitions. I love performing and it was an opportunity to once again display my abilities as an entertainer”.
TwiXx: I saw this as an opportunity to experience something new. I mean, the virtual soca monarch was something new, so I got lucky to be part of it and lucky to experience something the first of its kind, so it was a great experience for me. I learned a lot of new things, it was just great performing for everybody else despite what’s going on right now”.
Carnival 2020 was cancelled. Did this help to fill a void?
Chewalee: For me, no. The reason being because I am so heavily involved in Carnival and when I say carnival, I speak about all components: mass, pan, calypso, soca. It was another opportunity for me to perform for the Vincentian public – those here in St. Vincent, in the region, or in the diaspora, but I don’t know… today is Carnival Tuesday and this morning I cried because carnival Tuesday is probably my favorite day of the year. I don’t think anything could really replace carnival”.
TwiXx: “I think it did fill a void, not much but at least…. a lot of people were at home and frustrated that there’s no carnival and this helped them in a way to at least still get to experience something that a lot of Vincentians like which is the annual soca monarch. So, it just gave them a little feel of what’s going on, even though it was virtual and they couldn’t be there to experience it in person.
Shena: “Like TwiXx said, I think it did. I might not have filled much but it filled some because it’s like it’s better to do something than to do nothing at all, so we did get a feel and the people, the viewers, everybody else in the diaspora got a feel of some music despite they didn’t come out, but virtually, yes it was good”.
Da Vincy: “I don’t know that it filled a void for me but I know it filled a void for the public because they were the ones in the most important part of this exercise for me”.
Do you see this being a prototype of sorts for St. Vincent?
Da Vincy: “Virtual is where things are going now and we just need to build on this ground work”.
Chewalee: “Technically, carnival events have already been virtual whether accessed by pay-per-view, STv online or online streaming. But, what this does is that it that it encourages persons who can’t come to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, it gives them the comfort that they don’t have to come. They could still appreciate the art forms and support it online and maybe we could start monetizing certain things so that they could make their contributions”.
How would you compare the virtual show to the in-person one?
Da Vincy: “Well, the difference with this was that the final product was more luxurious because you could control the sound quality. I was really surprised because I looked at my performance just yesterday and when I was doing it, I wasn’t sure about the sound quality but when I played it back in packaged form, the sound quality was a lot better than I’m accustom hearing on Sunday night. This augurs well for future shows like this”.
TwiXx: “I would say it was well organized, better organized. The show ran basically more smoothly than it would normally run and sometimes in park, so it’s a win for the experiment”.
Your fans weren’t in front of you to motivate you, what ran through your mind when you were performing about connecting with your fans?
TwiXx: “Well, based on experience, I’ve been on stage a few times. I’ve performed for friends at home, so when I was up there, I just pretended that they were in front of me and just… it’s like they were actually right there. To be honest, I didn’t have a hard time doing it. I didn’t find anything difficult at all, I just sang and pretended that people were there who I was signing to”.
Shena: “Like the national competition, it would be nerve-wreaking, I mean this competition was shorter, you had to a more condensed situation than the national competition . We had little preparation time and on the night of the show, I was nervous despite there weren’t supporters but I know how people on social media could be. But, while I was signing, I was just imagining those flames (emojis) coming in, so it was like people were actually there in front of me visualizing those fire emojis coming in.
Chewalee: “I don’t know, I perform for empty venues, I’ve performed for packed venues, I’ve performed for persons who don’t know my music and to me, being an entertainer is being able to adapt to whatever the situation is and that is what I always strive for. I strive to be the best entertainer possible. For some people, being there with nobody watching might work for them better because you don’t have to worry about them not moving to what I’m saying or whatever, you don’t have that pressure. But, for me I didn’t have to visualize anybody really, my only thing was making sure I executed what was rehearsed and I did it withing the time period. That is the only thing I was looking at – the clock. Entertainment is just fun. Singing is just fun.
Da Vincy: “For me, when I’m singing it’s another place. The audience really whether they’re there or not doesn’t really matter because what I’m trying to get across is basically something that I see. So, that picture is always in front of me, rather than the people. The picture that I see that I’m trying…. It’s like I’m painting something. People will see it later or now, it doesn’t matter, i’ll continue painting regardless to who is inside the room”.
Chewalee: “Something else too: I hardly remember what happened on stage. Very very rare I’d be able to tell you if I saw someone outside because actually… I don’t think I actually see persons when I am performing although I might be looking but I don’t necessarily see”.
TwiXx: “That is true”.
Chewalee: “and the actual performance itself, it takes me a while to remember what happens. It might just come back while listening to a song or while relaxing, or it just happens. Unless it’s something drastic like I forget lyrics or something happens with the song.
Are there any recommendations for the organizers of the event?
Da Vincy: “Might just add a little more time”.
The Virtual Soca and Ragga Soca Monarch competitions, and the Virtual Calypso Monarch competition were organized by STV Online, Ignite, and Envy, with Steve Wallace, Candace Sealey, and Lester Iroha being the engineers of the historic online events.
The events were held on July 4 and 5, respectively, the same dates on which Carnival Monday and Tuesday activities were scheduled to be held.
The COVID-19 pandemic let to the cancellation of Vincy Mas 2020.