Men, women and that ‘Gillette’ ad*
January 26, 2019
More than a few good men
February 2, 2019

Duane Jnr out to defend Junior Calypso Monarch title*

By Lara Pickford-Gordon,

It was a joke shared at the launch of the 2019 TUCO/First Citizens National Junior Calypso Monarch Competition: the “son” had a better voice than his father, 2012 Calypso Monarch, Duane O’Connor.

Chair of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) Junior Calypso Committee Thora Best made the joke prior to introducing Duane Jr, a guest performer at the January 23 launch held at the VIP Lounge of the Queen’s Park Savannah (QPS).

The 16-year-old performed ‘Man of Integrity’ which earned him the 2018 Junior Calypso Monarch.  He will be defending the title in the finals on February 25, at the QPS.

Interviewed by Catholic News after the launch, the Form 5 student of St Mary’s College exuded calm confidence. He did not wish to disclose the title of his 2019 song composed by calypsonian Brian London as the competition has not started. However, he said the topic was strong. “So, I know I can take it again this year,” he said. The zonal preliminaries begin February 2.

This year will be his fourth year in the competition. He summed up his reason for participating, “I love calypso and I always wanted to sing calypso from very young…I don’t know, it just happened. I saw my father singing so I just wanted to follow along.”

You would think someone with this opinion would not be nervous on stage but O’Connor said he always is before a performance. This was not evident as he showed why ‘Man of Integrity’ placed him in top spot.

He has not overcome the pre-performance jitters but just tells himself “you have to do this” and walks to the stage and starts singing. “By the time [I get to] the second verse, I would just relax,” he said.

O’Connor said he isn’t into sports and just loves singing: “24-7, that’s all I do”. There was no issue of balancing studies and singing because it did not impact his schoolwork.  O’ Connor said, “Once I learnt the song, I could just go back to studying and just pick up after.” He can learn a new song in three days.

The young calypsonian intends to continue in the junior competition for as long as possible. The competition caters for students from primary to tertiary education. He also has his sights set on entering the adult competition. O’Connor is no doubt emboldened by the successes of other former Junior Calypso competitors who have gone on to win the national Calypso Monarch including 2018 Monarch Helon Francis. Indicating the time had come for more new blood to be in the competition, he said he looked forward to the challenge of defeating his seniors.

The 2019 song will soon be recorded in studio and the arranger will expand on the melody given by the composer along with adding various other elements to complete the production.

In a separate interview, the senior O’Connor explained both he and his wife are very supportive and he never pushed his son into singing calypso. Although urged by people “to let the boy sing”, his own view was to “let him take his time”. One day, the time was right and Duane Jr told his father, “I want to sing, Daddy”.

O’Connor is obviously proud of his son, describing him as “very dynamic personally in terms of presentation of the calypso and diction”. He is reminded of himself while at the same time recognising his son’s individuality, “He can do so many things.”

Highlighting that Duane Jr has not been competing for long, he remarked, “That talent, some people have it natural.”