Open Letter to my Calypso Association Executive by Jude ‘JayDee’ Delauney

15th February, 2024

Open Letter to my Calypso Association Executive

Good day Lady and Gents,

I could have written this letter spewing venom right off the bat like I think I’ve earned the right to but I fear that it may be taken in the wrong manner and the matters that need addressing may be overlooked and my tone will become the main subject. I could detail how, on entering calypso competition in the 2013/14 season, at the elimination show, radio announcers, upon receiving the list for quarter finals called my name first and after calling a few names the list was taken from them and I appeared on reserve when the new list was produced. Or how in 2019 judges #1 to #4 plus the two reserve judges placed me comfortably in the finals while judges #5, #6, and #7 placed me so low that I placed 10th and consequently I was out. Or in this year’s competition after placing 2nd and Mighty D placing 5th in quarter finals neither of us made the final when we made no mistake or did anything less than our quarter finals performance.

While all these are facts, they point to a serious problem that we calypsonians face. The first situation (2013/14) begs the question: Are the results altered after the judges make their decision? The second situation (2019) asks: Do judges confer with each other and score a calypsonian low just to get him out and get who they want in? The third situation (2024) asks: Are the judges’ opinions so far from each other that in one show you place 2nd and in the next round you cannot make the cut although you’ve performed better? I bring all these up because from my own personal account I see there is an obvious pattern of ‘mal-judging’ over the years not only with me but with many other calypsonians.

What have we as an association done about this? Workshops? LAUGHABLE! Regular workshops are definitely needed to fine tune the work of the judges who mean well but that does not punish a judge or judges who blatantly scores a calypsonian low for whatever reason or judge(s) who just cannot do the job. What is needed is regular review of judges and removal of those who cannot do the job and those who come with ulterior motives.

Now as a rebuttal to this point it is always said that the judges pool is very small and if we remove a judge, they will be hard to replace. NONESENSE! Firstly, if a mason builds a crooked wall would you rehire him to build your house?? Secondly, I will put it to you that there are people capable of judging who will not come forward and good judges who left the pool because of the mix of biased and incapable judges in the current pool.

We proudly boast that we are the only calypso association with its executive members being calypsonians and with no direct or apparent influence from the government so why do we keep feeding our calypsonians to the wolves? Judges cannot be so much bigger than us that we are afraid to remove those doing mischief. Madness! In fact, when we start doing right by calypso and removing those who don’t deserve to be there, we will see both former and new capable judges putting themselves up to serve. They stay away because of the bad rap.

We talk about the decline in the number of patrons attending the shows but do we ever make the correlation between that and bad judging? And what about the relation between bad judging and a number of great calypsonians leaving the artform? Black diamond and family being the latest case. If we look at the finals this year, aside from those placed and one or two others, there were a number of calypsonians that were not even expecting to be there. It was evident if you check the lack of quality of the second songs (second releases) of some competitors and some their lack of presentation. It was a two-man race if you ask anybody. Bad judging in the semis can give you a boring final show. After Dice and Trilla G there was no bacchanal. Thank goodness they were last because I would be sorry for the competitors coming after. If we want to maximize patronage, the public needs to feel that they’re coming to a show and results will be fair at the end.

In 2019, after reviewing my scores and realizing that there was more than likely a plot amongst three judges to keep me from advancing to the finals, I wrote the then executive detailing why I came to this conclusion. It has been 5 years since (I was promised a meeting which has never taken place) with no response, written or otherwise and more importantly no effort in ensuring that this type of action is spotted and appropriate action meted out to the culprit or culprits. It is for this reason I have chosen the form of an open letter. It did not have to come to this but sometimes we as humans only act when put under the microscope.

Finally, I would have you know that many top tier calypsonians are talking about bad judging over the years. Many of whom have called or met me and expressed disbelief in me not making the finals this year. The fact that this executive (with Mr. Davidson Victor at the helm and Narrin Murphy as treasurer) has exercised prudence in handling our funds over a past few years is commendable and because of this you have had my support but if you cannot heed the cries of your many members and take more drastic action against those who have our fate in their hands but have no love for the people’s artform we the members will be forced to find an executive who can.

Remember what calypso stands for. It is the voice of the voiceless and defender of the masses and so we must, as a calypso association, always be held to a standard of fairness and equity for all. The show will go on!


Jude ‘JayDee’ Delauney

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