The Divas Calypso Cabaret International all-female calypso tent opened its doors to the public Wednesday night at the Mas Camp Pub in Woodbrook with songs that tell the story about the life of a woman with its many travails, triumphs and humorous moments. It is the first calypso tent to open its doors for the 2014 Carnival season.
The Divas tent which is celebrating its 10th year has a 16-member cast with a nicely balanced mix of veterans and newcomers singing under the theme “Celebrating Women in Kaiso from Yesteryear”. It means that in addition to their own compositions the calypsonians are performing songs from the repertoire of veterans like Calypso Rose, Singing Francine, Lady B, Denyse Plummer, Twiggy and Ella Andall.
On the cast are Karen Eccles, Stacy Sobers, Angela Ramoutar, Dilena Diamond, Tenaj Smith, Kerice Pascal, Crystal Charles, Vornique Benjamin, Lyncia Morris, Sharon Alexis, Sancha/Trini Barbie, Simply Heather, Calika Grayson, Estherlita Lomont, Lisa John and Karlita.
The tribute kicked off with Lisa John’s performance of Ella Andall’s “Bring down the Power” and she had members of the audience singing along with her.
Kerice Pascal was the hit of the night with her rendition of “Fix it and Hush” a ditty about the government delivering services throughout Trinidad and Tobago. She used a maxi taxi as an analogy. If Grande want ah oil change, change it. If Siparia brakes eh working, fix it.
Karen Eccles was dressed like an angel for her rendition of Larry Harewood’s composition “The Value of Life” and was well received. She changed outfits to do Twiggy’s “Up Under Meh” and at this point tent manager Rudy Ottley presented calypsonian Twiggy’s children, Lani and Neheelah with an award in her absence. Twiggy however came later.
Vornique Benjamin’s delivery of “Ah Putting Down Meh Foot”, a song about domestic violence received several encores. Master of Ceremonies Gillian Smith kept the show alive with her hilarious interaction with the audience. She also gave the audience a bit of history on each icon before their songs were performed. Estherlita Lomont’s rendition of Singing Francine’s “Runaway” was spot on.
Dilena Diamond did Calypso Rose’s “Tempo” while Stacy Sobers’ version of Lady B’s “Dollar Waste” had the audience cheering.
Sancha Samara aka Trini Barbie imitated Denyse Plummer with her every move as she performed “Woman is Boss” and Simply Heather had the place on fire with Calypso Rose’s “Fire Fire”.
In opening the tent, manager Rudy Ottley said Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had been asked and accepted its request to be patron of the Divas Calypso Cabaret International.
President of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) Lutalo Masimba aka Brother Resistance reminded the audience that when the tent opened ten years ago Ottley had been criticised for having an all-female tent. But he pointed out, “For too long women have been denied the space and seen only as background singers and winer girls. We have to acknowledge and understand the importance of their role. In the gayelle, women have made a very essential contribution to the art form and we should never take their contribution for granted. And it continues from strength to strength as we see with the Divas tent.”
Resistance also said all tent managers should come together and address the state as a unified body. “The state must understand the power of the calypso art form and not look at us and give political patronage. The tent is a part of calypso business and calypso is the soul that drives the entire industry,” he said.
The Divas tent can be seen at its home base at the Mas Camp Pub, corner French Street and Ariapita Avenue, Woodbrook, Port of Spain every Wednesday and Thursday at 8.30 p.m. Tomorrow the tent clashes with The Birds Calypso Tent at Dub’s Entertainment Complex, 712 Erin Road, Santa Flora.