How does an art form die? It dies when the people forget it purpose, when people perceptions of the rituals are lost, it dies as the older generation dies where there is no succession. It can also dye when it is transformed and consumed into another art form. It loses originality.
Does the art of composing and delivering calypso meet these criteria? A 2012 post suggested that the Carnival Spirit is dying, this year it's calypso itself, the source that fueled carnivals of yesteryear..
Judging from the commentaries voiced after 2013 semi-finals of the carnival calypso competition held last week. One of the competitors even sang a calypso about how calypso personified by an individual labeled “Calypso” took a plane to New York City. Thre reason, calypso is not appreciated here by the natives. It is disrespected by the radio stations and the authorities. He must have struck a nerve because the high fallout of comments after the show.
Calypso is not dead but dying. Soca, which is considered a mix of soul and calypso is the choice of the Trinbagonian youths. Frankly, it has more dance and sex appeal than calypso. Real calypso, the hard hitting satirical calypso with catchy rhythms did not show itself yet for 2013. That despite the presentation of 40 semi finalist last week.Admittedly some good lyrics but nothing that make you jump and say "Now da is Kiaso". It just didn't happen.
The old calypsonians are showing their ages, not much fire and lyrics from people like Chalkdust, Shadow or even the King Sparrow.
Yes calypso as it exists today does meet the criteria of a dying art form. But there is hope on the horizon. There are still a number of young calypsonians with the dream of making it big although this can be a false sign given the high prize money. People will do anything where there is a slight chance of landing a million dollars. Look at what happened last year where an absolute unknown won the first prize.
The real hope lies in the heart of the people who will not let calypso die. Calypso has impacted the social and political lives of too many Trinbagonians it has always been the voice of the people and outlet for their joys and pains. The Diasporas of Trinbagonians who long for the old time feeling of calypso will not let it die. Case in point
Last Sunday, 12th February, 2013 a new version of the classic documentary Calypso Dreams, was screened at the National Library POS, Directed by Geoffrey Dunn and Michael Horne, it was part of an initiative of the T&T Film festival (ttff) and sponsored by the Trinidad & Tobago Film Company.
View this trailer for Calypso Dreams, Ask yourself “Is Calypso Dead?