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Chalkdust: 75 can?t go into 14

During the Calypso Fiesta competition held last week Saturday, social media was abuzz with one line in particular. That line was ?75 can?t go into 14?.

It was a line that featured in the calypso of veteran Calypsonian Dr Hollis Liverpool better known by his sobriquet Chalkdust entitled Learn from Arithmetic, which addressed the issue of child marriage in this country.

This year, ?Chalkie? celebrates his 50th year as a calypsonian.

It has been a long and successful career for ?Chalkie? who is currently tied with Slinger Francisco also known as the ?Mighty Sparrow? for the most Calypso Monarch wins in this country.

Both Chalkdust and Sparrow have eight wins each.

Liverpool is carded to again take the Big Stage at the Calypso Monarch final on Dimanche Gras night tonight in search of a record breaking ninth win.

Earlier this week, Sunday Guardian sat down with Liverpool.

Q: How did you get involved in Calypso?

A: Well first as a boy I used to hear calypso on the airwaves from in the parlours and cafés in Belmont and I just liked the calypso.

And then I was a school boy in St Mary?s (College), where I am now a distinguished son, but in those days you could not sing calypso in school etcetera but I used to compose little calypsoes for Intercol so that is how I began.

And then I went to (Teachers) Training College where I officially began to sing calypsoes

So when you actually attended Training College that is where you came up with the sobriquet Chalkdust to go with the concept of teaching?

Correct, but not only that.

Chalkdust was also a book written by one of my lecturers, De Wilton Rogers. He taught us sociology and he was a very good teacher. He wrote a book called Chalkdust about the problems of teaching in a denominational school and I used the name because I identified with the book at the time

Calypso for me is the ability to take a difficult topic and deal with it in a creative manner and one of the perfect examples of that this year is your calypso Learn from Arithmetic.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

victorgillramirez.com
So how did the creation of that song come about?

Well, that came about because of the calypso tradition, which you rightly said is how we entertain people but at the same time let people see issues and understand important things in the country.

So all the calypsonians in the past, what they would do as the mouthpiece of the people is they would take issues and sing on them.

But you can?t sing on the issues like a journalist, you have to spin the ball, so you have to bowl off breaks and leg breaks and use satire and all the metaphors.

If you listen to early calypsoes that is what they did.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

dolarve.com
They used a lot of metaphoric language.

Like one fella was singing about George Weekes and sang ?two weeks, two weeks I ain?t get no food?.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

www.entornointeligente.com
So I simply copied them.

All the great calypsonians have done that. When Sparrow sang for example London Bridge is falling down, you understood that London is no longer the great power that she was in the 19th century.

This is the art form and what I am doing is simply following the art form.

You won your first Calypso Monarch title in 1976 and in 2017 you are still a strong contender for the title.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

www.google.co.ve
To what do you attribute your longevity and success?

In the art form what I have always found is that you get many calypsonians getting a tune and they rise and next four, five years you cannot hear them again.

The great calypsonians?Black Stalin, Valentino, Lord Relator?you sure to get a good calypso every year because they understand the art form and they go to the tent and sing a calypso and if it does not go down well, they go back and make another one or they will change the lines or the verses because they always have a good song.

Like Sparrow and Ras Shorty I always have a good song.

So what I do is I simply make songs, I may make four or five, sometimes I would call a friend and ask them ?what you think of this line??.

I don?t make a whole calypso, I make a verse and when you sing it you will know whether it is good or not.

I try to keep the standards.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

www.google.co.ve
Good calypsonians keep their standards.

My standard is that I have the most appearances in the Grand Stand (Calypso Monarch final) and I have the most appearances in the semifinal.

This is my 50th year and I have the most appearances and what I try to do is maintain the standard.

When you compose for yourself you are able to maintain the standard because when you don?t compose for yourself, you cannot maintain the standards because you are dependent on somebody else and singing somebody else?s values and you are singing what other people would like to say.

History is going to be kind to people who write their own songs because they are leaving footprints on the sands of time.

You have mentioned Sparrow and the both of you are currently tied for Calypso Monarch wins.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

www.google.co.ve
What does a 9th Calypso Monarch win in your 50th year of Calypso mean to you?

Well, if the God Lord permits, it would be a milestone for me in my 50th year.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

www.google.co.ve
I didn?t want to break Sparrow?s record.

I told him so a few years ago because Sparrow has done so much.

But Sparrow told me don?t skylark boy, go and break the record.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

www.google.co.ve
So because of Sparrow?s urgings I said I would take part because I wanted to come out of it long time and pass the baton on to the youngsters.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

noticias-venezuela.com
Sometimes people tell me I am competing with children, I get hit both good and bad. But I sing what I sing because so many people tell me if I don?t sing they can?t enjoy the Carnival. They remind me that apart from being a professor that I am Chalkdust.

One of the issues that came up this year was the fact that you were the only representative from the Calypso Revue tent who was selected for Calypso Fiesta.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

inteven.net
What are your thoughts on that entire situation?

Well, one must understand that the judges need training.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

www.google.co.ve
I tired saying that and I will say it again. But the judges need training meaning we must take those judges and all those who want to judge and put them in the schools and teach them the art form.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

www.google.co.ve
Let me give you an example, I did a one-day workshop once in Tobago for the calypsonians and I showed them a basic rhythm pattern, basic…and they were laughing at one guy who could not make it, and I told them don?t laugh at the guy but they were still laughing and when I asked what they were laughing at the guy for, they said he was the chief judge and he could not make out what was C on the music sheet.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

news.google.fr
If I show you my music sheets, if you see the bad English, some of the judges cannot write English. How can you judge calypso? So the judges need training in literacy, in world affairs because calypsonians sing about world affairs.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

eldiscoduro.com
So the judges have to be literate, they have to know history. And how could a man judge calypso and he has not even done Caribbean Civilisation? So that the judges need to be taken and trained.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

www.google.co.ve
You don?t have to have a degree or a Masters but you should have a certain standard. So I don?t blame the judges because they are untrained. Unless you sit down in a classroom for four, five months, six months, you really can?t judge the art form and that is what is needed.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

laballesta.news
You can?t give a judge a one day or half way thing and tell them to judge calypso, you can?t do it, so I am sorry for the judges.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

www.google.co.ve
Judges need to know what is the difference between a simile, a metaphor, a hyperbole, they need to know these things.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

So I don?t blame them, the judges need training…

So with respect to the Revue, the Revue knows that out of an entire programme you can?t pick only one calypsonian.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

You can?t. So that is why the guys are angry but you can?t get vex with Tuco (Trinbago Unified Calypsonians? Organisation) you have to get vex with Tuco?s judges.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

And then what happens is that they (the judges) came by Revue first when some of the calypsonians were settled as yet, to gel.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

In the first case the calypsonians in Revue didn?t even know what song to sing for the judges because when you sing for the crowd after a week or two, you may say this song is better than that song or I am singing in the wrong key.

CALYPSO MONARCH ORDER OF PERFORMANCE

?1.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

Marsha ?Lady Adanna? Clifton 2. Kurt Allen 3. Devon Seale (Reining Monarch) 4. Miguella Simon 5. Anthony ?All Rounder? Hendrickson 6. Victoria ?Queen Victoria? Cooper-Rahim 7. Lornette ?Fya Empress? Nedd-Reid 8. Terri Lyons 9. Lynette ?Lady Gypsy? Steele 10. Winston ?Gypsy? Peters 11. Karene Asche 12. Roderick ?Chucky? Gordon 13. Rondell Donawa 14. Weston ?Cro Cro? Rawlins 15. Sasha Ann Moses 16. Heather Mac Intosh 17. Dr Hollis ?Chalkdust? Liverpool The Dimanche Gras, Kings & Queens of Carnival Finals starts at 7 pm at Queen?s Park Savannah.

.

© Jorge Plaza Marquez

© Jorge Marquez Plaza

© Jorge Plaza

© Jorge Marquez

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