MONARCH IS QUEEN: Nathalee accepted her trophy from CEO
of the National Cultural Foundation Ian Estwick.
by ROY MORRIS and RICKY JORDAN
NATHALEE BRIGHTENED an otherwise dour and overcast day with her Colours,
copping a well-deserved Party Monarch win at the Calypso Bowl yesterday.
Her win, only the second by a woman in the competition's ten years, was
one of few sparks of excitement on a day when extremely large crowds,
the usual upbeat mood and the high-tech performance accessories were missing.
The party that made the day for those who went to the Ermie Bourne Highway
was the post-Party Monarch show that kicked off after De Hawk, the final
competitor, had thrown his utmost into Man Don't Say Nothing At All.
Some attributed the less-than-overflowing audience to the not-so-inviting
weather, while others were adamant that the overcast conditions and not-so-exciting
mood of the competition were due to the absence of some of the most popular
artistes of the season.
It was a view with which former Party Monarch, Li'l Rick, who did not
compete this year, fully agreed.
"This would've been a much bigger day if people like Peter Ram, Captain
Sawyer, Keann and Rameses Brown were here. And you see De Doc? People
love De Doc! . . . This crowd could have been three times bigger,"
Li'l Rick added that while himself and Peter Ram were guest performers,
people preferred to see them in competition since "they know competition
brings out the best in you".
But if the old saying "size doesn't really matter" is true,
then the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) can deem the day a success.
An hour before the competition ended, police estimated the crowd at between
6 000 and 7 000 – well short of the 25 000 to 30 000 officials boasted
of in recent years.
Transport Board operations manager Desmond Sabir told the DAILY NATION
that around 2 p.m. a number of buses were parked in the Princess Alice
and Speightstown terminals waiting to make the St Andrew trip, but there
were few party-seekers waiting to ride.
Later in the day his colleague, marketing manager Lynda Holder, reported
a steady flow of buses, but none running full.
The respectable crowd brought some noticeable positives, though: public
transportation to the venue was more than adequate; traffic congestion
along the highway was virtually non-existent; unruly acts, usually spurred
by the crush of bodies, never raised their ugly head; and despite the
sticky brown mud and wet grass which left many walking and "wukking"
gingerly, and just about everything on four wheels skidding, no one complained.
The competition, meanwhile, never reached boiling point. In fact, its
start flattered to deceive.
The "old dawg" and seven-time Tune of the Crop winner, Grynner,
started the competition with such an energetic performance of Repeat that
the response of the crowd eclipsed many opening acts of previous years.
But it was not until seven acts later, when Kimberley Inniss took the
stage for a sensational performance of Free, that the audience displayed
any semblance of the usual Party Monarch spirit.
Two songs later, Nathalee whipped the crowd into a near-frenzy with Colours,
even though her East Coast performance seemed not to be as effective as
some of her earlier journeys to the stage this season.
But it was enoughto win her the trophy and $20 000.
Last year's winner, Edwin, who placed second [$12 000], and who can be
classified as a commander in Calypso Bowl wars, gave a masterful performance
with Yardie Graduate, but still could not get his customary crowd response.
He later complained of not getting his equipment in place for the performance.
Even third-placed Mr Dale, with One Hand, did not deliver the level of
performance or provoke the degree of crowd response to confirm a position
among the crème de la crème of party music this year.
It was only after the results were announced around 6:15 p.m. that the
atmosphere – and crowd – bore a much more striking resemblance
to the real Party Monarch Sunday. Visiting Trini artiste Ronnie McIntosh
had started the crowd dancing, and Electrik and the DJs had capitalised
The stage had beenset for what the crowd really wanted – to be commanded
by Peter Ram, Li'l Rick and krosfyah.