TUCO/WESCU Karaoke Competition 2014
The NU Pub, formerly the Mas Camp Pub, was alight with excitement on November 14th 2014, for the TUCO/WESCU first National Karaoke Competition. The audience comprised friends and family of contestants, members and supporters of Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Association (TUCO) and members of TUCO’s executive. Among these were Lutalo ‘Brother Resistance’ Masimba, Rudolph Ottley and Wayne Mc Donald, Tuco executive member. The new club was transformed from its usual dance club atmosphere to include seating for close to one hundred and forty patrons. Before the show commenced, DJ Karaoke Nikki entertained the audience with popular soca music and master of ceremonies Godfrey Pierre in true ‘Trini’ fashion entertained the crowd with his witticisms.
The evening’s event took part in three segments: the pre-show which included the drawing of positions, the main event and the fun segment. Contestants for the karaoke competition were chosen from not only Trinidad but also from Tobago. The Tobago contestants registered in Tobago and took part in preliminary competitions to secure their spots in the finals. Contestants from Trinidad were chosen from across the island. In the finals, Tobago contestants secured three positions overall. Prior to the start of the competition contestants took to the stage to randomly draw for their starting positions. All twenty-one finalists however did not show up for the competition. Neisha Julia Guy who also appeared on Digicel Rising Stars opted out of the competition due to vocal challenges. This and the fact that four of the twenty-one contestants showed up late for the number drawing segment of the pre-show put no damper on the evening’s event.
The programme commenced with the singing of the national anthem of Trinidad and Tobago. Following this, the guest performer for the evening Roderick Gordon or ‘Chucky’ as he is otherwise known got the audience’s attention with his showmanship and vocal capabilities singing Sparrow’s “That is All”.
The show started with a karaoke rendition of Destra’s “First Time”, a groovy soca performed by Cavel Gordon. However, it was not until Leno Forde’s performance of Shadow’s “Dingolay” at position number five that the crowd started to show enthusiasm.
Forde, in true Shadow style, was fully clothed in black with Shadow’s signature coat and hat. His performance was however interrupted by technical difficulties and had to be re-started which may have been to his disadvantage. Other crowd pleasers for the night included Dilena Flemmings singing Destra’s “Independent Ladies” at position number eight, Anthony Douglas with the Mighty Sparrow’s “Mae Mae” at position number eleven.
This karaoke competition was a unique one: although the lyrics to each song appeared on a screen, contestants had to memorise their song selection as well as work out a stage presentation before competition night. The criteria for judging were as follows: vocals sixty points, stage presentation twenty points and overall entertainment twenty points. The esteemed judges for the night were Gillian Moore, Anthony Johnson, Marva Newton, Muhammed Muwakil of the duo Free Towne Collective, news personality C News reporter Samantha John, musician and educator Joseph ‘Joey’ Rivers, and calypsonian Leslie-Ann ‘Lady Africa’ Bristow.
The overall favourites of the night were Shashie Gosine, Moricia Cagan and Natifah Phillips. Shasie Gosine with Baron’s “Sweet Soca Man” had the females in the audience swooning and howling. Gosine mimicked Baron’s style almost perfectly with his rendition. Although dressed sharply in a suit, Gosine’s stage presentation was not as impressive as the other aforementioned.
Natifah Phillips entered the stage dressed in a sailor suit, fitting for her rendition of Square One’s “Carnival Baby” accompanied by back-up dancers. Phillips produced a solid performance.
Moricia Cagan dressed in all-white sang and danced to Ella Andall’s “Bring Back the Power”. Moricia along with her stage dancer seemed to have captivated the audience with their bélé dance performance of the song. Her vocal ability also aided in making her performance a delightful ensuring her victory of the evening’s competition.
Moricia went on to win the Karaoke competition followed closely by Shashie Gosine. Coming in third was Natifah Phillips. The final contestant for the night was Nigel Sammerson with Lord Nelson’s “King Liar”. His performance got moderate approval from the crowd.
After a short break, the results were in. The first place winner was to receive $25,000, second place $10,000 and third place $5,000. Persons placing fourth to tenth were to receive $1,000, while contestants placing eleventh to twentieth were to receive $500. The prize-giving ceremony was to be held a few days later on the 11th December, 2014.
Following the announcement of placements for the giving of prizes members of the audience were asked about their thoughts on the first TUCO Karaoke competition and who they thought should have won. The consensus was a toss-up between Shasie Gosine or Moricia Cagan. Asked about their overall thoughts on the TUCO’s Karaoke competition, members of the audience explained they appreciated that the song selections were strictly calypso and soca.
To close the show, Brother Resistance, Rudolf Ottley and Duane O’Connor, the main persons responsible for the concept of the competition, were asked on stage. Lutalo ‘Brother Resistance’ Masimba, informed the audience this competition was part of TUCO’s commemorating one hundred years of calypso. Sponsors for the event included main sponsors WESCU, Standards, TSTT and Empower Guard.