April 21, 2004 – Virgin Islands calypso music found itself in the capable hands, hearts and voices of young performers Tuesday night at the 2004 Carnival Junior Calypso competition. Two veteran champions and a tiny newcomer won honors in their respective school divisions as they sang and danced their way across the stage at the Lionel Roberts Stadium.
Five-year-old Maurice Hansby was the primary division winner for his performance of "Play the Calypso," becoming the youngest contestant to capture that honor since Riise La Franque, the Mighty Chicken Wing, won in the mid 1990s.
Proud parents Camellia Williams and Gregory Hansby posed their little king for pictures after the show, adjusting the crown that slipped down around his eyes.
In deciding on Maurice's song, "we wanted to skip the politics," his father said after the event. "He's the youngest one. We wanted to focus on the fun side of carnival — play the calypso."
Williams said her son has been performing since he was 3 years old, singing for the last two years to back up his older sister, Queen Nubie.
Other young performers were ready to dive in to social commentary Tuesday night. In the intermediate division, Shamelle Farrington, a 12-year-old student at Addelita Cancryn Junior High School, won her third consecutive crown singing "I Am Ready." In her performing persona as Princess Lyrics, Shamelle said she is ready to jump up when teachers and firefighters and other government workers get the raises they deserve.
Offstage, Shamelle smiled shyly and spoke softly about her accomplishments. Asked if she likes performing as a calypsonian, she nodded. But as to whether she will keep doing it in the future, "I really don't know," she said.
The 2004 V.I. Carnival Prince, Hosea Ottley, a student at Leonard Dober Elementary School, won first runner-up in the primary division for a song called "While Dey Blaming We," about the fault-finding children find themselves subjected to by adults.
The second runner-up, Lockhart School pupil Symra Hendrickson, performing as Soca Symra, sang a song called "I'm Too Young." It was about the eagerness some children feel when carnival time approaches. "I might be too young for a lot," her lyrics went. "Too young to party, I'm not."
In the secondary division, there were just two competitors, but both were former winners. Kyza Callwood, 15, a former two-time intermediate champ, beat last year's winner, Lord T, with a song called "Keep It to Yourself." Kyza sang that he would sing about any subject, including politics, social ills and his own family, but was being warned to "put your song back on the shelf."
Both Kyza and Lord T attend Charlotte Amalie High School.
The young performers were judged on originality, composition, presentation, rendition and melody. About 400 people sat through the two and a half hour performance, many in the covered seat section, as light rains sprinkled throughout the night. A crop of umbrellas shielded a smattering of fans who kept to their seats near the stage.
Many who turned out Tuesday night said the junior calypso performances are of a better quality now than then the competition was begun some years ago.
This year, 14 performers took part. In addition to those listed above, they were King Yellowman and Lady Nique in the primary division; and Lady Key, Lady Peachie, Lady Nik, Lady Shatter, the Mighty Ali and Princess Ivorie in the intermediate division.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name, and the city and state/country or island where you reside.
Publisher's note : Like the St. Thomas Source now? Find out how you can love us twice as much — and show your support for the islands' free and independent news voice … click here.