ROSEAU, Dominica — The 2014 pre-Lenten carnival weekend was undoubtedly a memorable one for music from Grenada.
While Hollice “Mr Killa” Mapp was creating mayhem with his “Rolly Pollies”, and Wilt “Tallpree” Cambridge continued to establish a “Jab Jab nation” outside of Grenada from their temporary base in Trinidad, Finley “Scholar” Jeffrey had journeyed to “The Nature Isle” – Dominica – for carnival celebrations there.
In Dominica, traditional calypso music reigns supreme; and Scholar was in Dominica to share his genius in calypso composition and performance.
Finley “Scholar” Jeffrey
The seven-time Grenada Calypso Monarch was the guest of the Dominica Calypso Association that made arrangement for his visit in collaboration with Duncan Stowe, a prominent calypso analyst.
“Not surprisingly, the Grenadian calypsonian and schoolteacher did not disappoint in his guest appearance last Saturday at the final of Dominica’s calypso competition,” said lawyer Arley Gill, the former Grenada culture minister, who now works in Dominica.
In a tight and intense battle among the Dominican finalists, King Dice was crowned for the seventh time as the country’s Calypso Monarch.
Scholar sang two of his massive hits, “Love Life” and “Man Gone, Man Dey”.
“He wowed the crowd and earned the admiration of arguably the most passionate calypso audience in the Caribbean,” Gill said when asked to comment on Scholar’s performance.
“Love Life” was one of Scholar’s selections in the 2006 CARIFESTA competition in which he placed among the top five in a contest that included Trinidadians such as Cro Cro, Sugar Aloes, Singing Sandra and Luta.
Scholar teased the Dominicans with “Man Gone, Man Dey” – a rendition that tells the story of young men who are bent on being violent, and who end up in prison. When they go to jail, sings Scholar, other men will enjoy the company of their girlfriends.
The audience enjoyed the lyrics and music as they swayed with hails of laughter and joviality that belied the fact that they were hearing the song for the first time.
Scholar endeared himself to the women folk when he declared that, “Dominica is a nice woman factory”; he won their hearts. There were calls for “more”. But, Scholar eventually exited the stage to facilitate the second round of the Calypso Monarch competition.
“It was great entertainment in a tense competition and brought a welcome relief to the audience,” said Gill. “The audience could not get enough of Scholar’s short performance.”
Gill said Grenadian bards have established an outstanding track record of performances in Dominica, going back three decades with former Grenada Calypso Monarchs, Flying Turkey and Smokey.
“Many Dominicans reminisce of one Flying Turkey who competed in a sub-regional competition there in 1984 singing, “Writing on the Wall” and “Baron”. Turkey came second then, but there is the quiet concession that to the audience, he probably won after all,” Gill said.
“Whatever it is, Turkey left an indelible mark here in this calypso country, Dominica. Smokey competed the year after. Well, Scholar renewed that Grenada presence here. The general sentiment among Dominicans is, ‘That Mister bad”’.