Rock-A-Fella crowned ‘King of the Tents’

Basseterre, St. Kitts-They came in their thousands, including the Prime Minister of the country, the Right Honourable Dr. Denzil Douglas, not allowing the rainy conditions of the night to deny them of the opportunity to witness what they knew would be one of the most exciting and competitive calypso competitions ever staged in St. Kitts & Nevis.

It was perhaps also the most unique calypso contest ever hosted anywhere in the world and it was clear from last night night’s (Wednesday 21st December, 2011), King of the Tents Calypso Competition, that it could grow to become one of the most looked forward to carnival events in the country.

From as early as 7:00pm the crowds started to pack the venue, reserving a space that would provide the best vantage point to see the 10 calypsonians that were scheduled to appear, for the 9:00pm start. The promotional build-up to the event was such that fans were anticipating a huge audience; in the end, estimates put the crowd size to as much as 4,500 people. No doubt partly due to the fact that it was a free show, but also because the competitors all had powerful and popular songs that have been receiving much air play here and overseas.

The tone was set when Singing Jennifer opened the competition with her crowd pleasing calypso, simply known as “Uh Hum” followed by a most amazing presentation by De Unexpected with his very popular song called “Gi Dem De Dougie”. He was at his greatest. It was a performance that only De Unexpected could deliver. He added new lines, attacking other calypsonians especially Rock-a-Fella.

However, of all the calypsonians it was he who really caused the audience to come alive, joining in the singing and jumping all over the arena, filling with laughter, as Unexpected thrilled the audience.

His was followed by other hard hitting presentations by Honesty, Hot Rod, Fantastic Tunda, Lil Willy, Lala and Aba Lively. The 10th calypsonian, Neglector, like last year, failed to appear. But just when everyone thought it was all over, in came Rock-a-Fella, dressed as a prisoner, shackled at the hands and feet, and led on stage by a prison officer, who gave him “permission to perform”. This “make believe” drama was actually a presentation that reflected the recent real life legal struggles of the calypsonian who has been arrested twice in the past month, and was released only days before the competition.

Rock-a-Fella therefore decided to make fun at his own expense and use his unfortunate circumstances to enhance his performance in a song too that was written from jail, relating the problems he has been facing.

It was calypso magnificence at its best and an inspiring performance from the popular and controversial calypsonian, who has been singing since the 1960s; a fact not known by many.

It was truly a night of laughter, fun and comedy, but when it was all settled, it was the Rock-A-Fella, with his popular tune, “Stay in You Lane”, that captured the crown, after being chosen by the fans, who were allowed to vote for the winners via text and online polling. He scored a total of 340 votes beating his closest rival Honesty by 9 votes, 331.

The other position went to last year’s winner, De Unexpected who captured the Second Runner-up spot with 227 votes.

This was a show that had no formal judges, the public served in that capacity. It was the public that determined the winners.

The king was crowned by the reigning Carnival Queen, Iantavian Queeley.

In an interview with after the competition Rock-A-Fella stated, “I am very grateful and thankful for a competition like this and God bless for giving us the opportunity to perform in this competition.”

Rock-A-Fella continued, “I would like to thank all the fans who voted for me and may the Lord bless them so that they can vote for me once again.”

Rock-A-Fella concluded by saying that his goal for carnival next year is to sing in the finals of the Senior Calypso Monarch Competition as a competitor not as a guest artist.

Rock-A-Fella also expressed his desire to keep this crown for the next 3 years.

The 2011 King of the Tents is in its second edition, after it was won in 2010 by the De Unexpected. According to the creator and producer of the competition, Mr. Val Henry, owner of, he stated that he was generally happy about the huge crowd attendance and the high quality of the show. Henry said that it would go down in history as perhaps the best calypso competition St. Kitts & Nevis has ever seen, in any format.

He was however, disappointed that the corporate sector in St. Kitts did not provide the type of support that was needed for a production like this and expressed the hope that now this year’s event was such a hit, companies would see the wisdom in throwing their sponsorship support behind next year’s competition. He therefore expressed thanks to LIME, TDC, Vallie”s Tent Rental, Demerara Distillers St. Kitts-Nevis Ltd, Taste Kittitian, Ashburry’s, and National Bank, for the “in kind” support provided. Some of these companies donated prizes for the giveaways and raffle while others donated services and products needed to stage the contest.

The owner also expressed thanks to ZIZ, Fat Tuesday, Grand Masters Proud Sounds Tent, Legends Calypso Band/Tent, S&L Stage Lighting, Public Works, National Carnival Committee, the reigning National Carnival Queen, Iantavian Queeley, commentators, Troy Biff Mills, John Samuels, Conse Edwards and Carlton Dupont, Halva Henry, and eCaribbean.

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