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i95.5fm listeners pledge assistance for Icons Tent

No State funding since 2011

By Michelle Loubon

Icons Tent manager/veteran calypsonian Weston “Cro Cro” Rawlins may operate a calypso tent this year with donations from calypso lovers who listen to “The Afternoon Drive” radio programme on i95.5 fm.

Callers to the programme pledged their money to get the tent going after hearing Rawlins say on the programme he had received no funding from the State or otherwise to operate his Icons Tent.

Known for his controversial lyrics, Rawlins was on the programme after giving his views on the issue involving calypsonian Roger Mohammed aka Bodyguard who was not accepted at the Kalypso Revue calypso tent with his calypso “False Papers” written by Gregory “GB” Ballantyne. Controversy has been centred around the fact that the lyrics were deemed to be racist by Revue tent manager Michael “Sugar Aloes” Osouna who in the past has sung calypsoes deemed to be racist in content. Osouna had explained in a previous interview on i95.5 that as a calypsonian/businessman he had to consider the feelings of his potential East Indian patrons. Rawlins has said he will accept Bodyguard if he is able to have a tent.

On Thursday afternoon business student Vaneisha Gardner and her spouse heard Rawlins’ lament and pledged $10 towards getting the tent off the ground. Gardner said she would spearhead the fundraising effort. Her pledge prompted other listeners to call and pledge their money to enable Rawlins’ tent. The callers all expressed outrage over Osouna’s refusal of Bodyguard and a determination for the tent to operate so “False Papers” can be heard.

During a telephone interview yesterday, Gardner said she and her spouse patronised Icons Tent. 

 “We have never met him before and every year we go to Icons. We like calypso and Icons. And we found they were out of business because of lack of funding. And we decided to set it up. We are hoping everybody will give $10 so we could raise $300,000.” 

Asked about the latest development, Osouna said: “I don’t care about that. Is it only both of them? That’s nice.”

Yesterday Ballantyne, speaking on Mohammed’s behalf said: “I am happy the calypso could be valued and appreciated by all. I think the song deserves to be heard. I am happy it has found a forum so the public could hear it. Bodyguard  is excited about the opportunity to perform with Icons.”

 Rawlins said: “I am confident the tent will open and Bodyguard will have a slot on Icons. He has an automatic place. He does not have to audition. The tent should cost about $500,000. I just went to i95 to do an interview on extempo. I did a little thing about Bodyguard.”  

 Asked how he felt about the proposed funding from well-wishers,  Rawlins said: “It has nothing to do with Aloes or Bodyguard and their business. People see some faction is trying to do wickedness to the artform. They fund everyone’s tent and not Icons. We have not been funded since 2011. They see Icons Tent being treated poorly  by the system. The caller (Gardner) said she wanted everyone to pledge $10 so we would have $100,000 to start the tent. I have gotten text messages and pledges from friends and well-wishers. TUCO did not say anything on behalf of Icons.” 

Asked if he felt people wanted to get back at Osouna, Rawlins said: “It is not to get back  at Aloes. People know the hurt I am going through because of the system in power. They are funding Aloes’ tent. I am not being funded. They want to help me.  They know I am a great calypsonian with hits like ‘Corruption in Common Entrance’ and ‘Political Dictionary’.” 

But Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) president Lutalo “Brother Resistance” Masimba said the Icons Tent  used to get funding from the government and TUCO was unaware about it.

He said: “I am not getting into bacchanal. We had no clue about the  kind of money they got. But we are glad our members were being taken care of. They want  TUCO to represent them but they have to make a clear case. We are supporting calypsonians.  We feel every calypsonian who is worth their salt should be employed. We will still stand in firm support of the Icons and all calypso tents.”  

But he said Rawlins never supported the idea of a national calypso tent which was spearheaded by former TUCO president Michael “Protector” Legerton. “He refused to be part of that,”  said Masimba.

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