A Brief history of Grenada Calypso Winners

Press Release
June 15th, 2013
By: Dexter Mitchell

As one would expect the passage of Hurricane Janet in September of 1955 affected every facet of Grenadian life including Carnival celebrations. The records suggest that the first Carnival to be celebrated after the passage of Hurricane Janet would be in 1958.

From that point on one can get a very clear picture of who dominated the various eras as the artform evolved over the years. The post-Janet calypso era was dominated by Melody and Papitette, who combined for a total of 6 Calypso Monarchs in the first 12 years immediately following the hurricane.

Other winners during that particular era included: Shadow, Stuffy, Splinto and Hurricane.

Hurricane who won the Calypso Monarch in 1968, generates more than a fair amount of interest for me, since we are both from the rural village of Clozier in St. John. Being able to document (on video, audio and in print) the brief but very eventful career of Hurricane, has been one of the most fulfilling experiences in anything I have done in culture, carnival and entertainment. His vivid recollection of the competitions, the $500 in prize money for winning the Calypso crown in 1968 and the satisfaction derived from those experiences which allowed him to retire from writing, singing and performing calypso after only 4 years, makes for a story that must be included in any documentation of Grenada’s culture and carnival.

A song that has transcended generational gaps, that has become part of the folklore of Grenadian culture, Brighter Out of Darkness, gave Dictator his only calypso title in 1969. Another iconic cultural figure, Saramouche ascended the throne of Calypso royalty in 1970, adding his name to the list of the select few Grenadians to be so exalted.
Unlucky, the Original Inspector and Lord Slim all won titles in the 70’s before having to make way for the young phenom from Laborie, Cecil Belfon, the Flying Turkey.

Victories in 1976, 77 and 78 gave Flying Turkey an unprecedented hat-trick of titles, before the 1979 revolution interrupted his momentum.

Survivor with  his win of the Calypso title in 1980 joined the Flying Turkey (1978) as the only Calypsonians to win titles in the month of May. With the move of Carnival to August in 1981 an enthusiastic, responsive and appreciative bevy of fans provided the fuel for an explosion of creativity on Dimanche Gras night.

Included in that movement was Lady Cinty the Island’s first female monarch,  Elimus Gilbert the Inspector who to date has 11 total titles, Ajamu and Scholar who like Turkey before them have each won 3 consecutive calypso titles. There are the Brothers, the late Timpo and Darius, winning titles in 1981 and 2000 respectively.

One cannot forget the Black Wizard and his 1989 award-winning universal hit, IMF. Wizard has won a total of 3 calypso titles.

The history of Grenada’s calypso winners offers an opportunity to relish the exploits of some of Grenada’s most creative minds and to appreciate the skill and talent of those who have evoked such a wide range of emotions. As further documenting takes place by yours truly, the promise is made here and now for a more in depth insight into calypso winners and all the other contributors to this great Grenadian cultural journey.