It’s Carnival time all around the world, with lavish annual celebrations in New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro and Port of Spain, Trinidad and elsewhere, culminating this year on Feb. 28. The Beat covered the music of the 1993 Carnival in Trinidad with two eyewitness accounts by our correspondents Steven Seftel and Gene Scaramuzzo. And although the reportage is some 24 years old, each carnival has its own long-standing traditions–masquerade, parades, contests–components that repeat each year even as the songs and the singers change.
As Steve remarks, Trinis are serious about their fun. “When it comes to Carnival they’ve got a competition for everything: There’s the calypso queen and young king, monarch, junior king, costume king and queen, masquerade band of the year, road march king, extempo, Panorama, small band, and junior Panorama.” It is a season-long event—preparations and festivities take place for up to two months before Fat Tuesday. Steve wrote a detailed report on the Panorama steel band competition, won by the Amoco Renegades; hit the streets playing in a carnival “mas” band on Dimanche Gras and J’ouvert morning; and attended the Calypso Monarch competition.
Gene’s account focuses on the high stakes and drama surrounding the Calypso Monarch contest. This was the year when soca singer David Rudder was at the top of his popularity with his massive hit song “Dus’ in Deh Face,” while the great Mighty Sparrow conceded the Calypso Monarch title to Chalkdust, who won the crown with his song “Misconceptions.” Gene also contributed a brief introductory overview of T&T carnival.
MORE FROM BEST OF THE BEAT: Carnival in French Guiana
LISTEN TO AFROPOP PROGRAM, CARNIVAL JUMP AROUND.