St Lucia’s newly crowned Calypso Queen Menelle has a simple request: she would like to meet Taiwanese ambassador Tom Chou. The calypsonian was crowned on Sunday as the island’s 2011 calypso champ with a song that centers on the ambassador.
This is the second time 31-year-old Menelle Delice from Dugard in Micoud has won the title. She won in 2007 with the songs ‘Pass It On’ and ‘Compy Still Holding On’. The songs that skyrocketed her to the top this year are “Rebellious Youth” and “The Two Toms.” The latter song creates a link between the long lasting nature of Hurricane Tomas which struck the island last October and Tom Chou, St Lucia’s Taiwanese ambassador, who despite several attempts to have him removed is still very much on the job. Menelle also plays on the meaning of Tomas in Creole and also the Creole meaning of Chou.
Among the lines that stand out: “Tomas in patois, nous tout sav c’est tom chou. Tomas fait twaka, chou pou wanje ban nous. Ho-to-to millions King ask for the repair but Lucia politicians pou yo Chou say bo pere. Tom Chou last Christmas gave Lucian children toys, some relief from Tomas but none for de Labour boys.”
The clever lyrics clearly highlight the rift between the Labour Party and the Taiwanese Ambassador as well as the ambassador’s seeming oblivious attitude towards calls for his resignation or for his country to recall him from his post.
Menelle performed both songs excellently and by all accounts was deserving of the crown. The queen knows that he song about the ambassador had garnered her attention during the season and she said she had attempted to meet with the him to no avail.
She explains that her song is not meant to be negative at all but a play on words at its best.
“In Taiwan and China there are a lot of people named Chou. Some people might say I am cursing in the song but it’s not so. It’s just the different meanings of the word, in our culture, and in the Taiwanese culture. I had fun with the song.
“I actually went to see Mr Tom Chou one time but he was not in. I have not yet spoken to him but I would love to meet Mr Chou so we can talk about the song. I would have loved to do it before the show but it didn’t happen.”
Menelle says she is still coming to terms with her win.
“I was really surprised when I won,” she admits, “but the truth is we worked really hard and we knew the competition would be tough. It was well worth it. It was a lot of pressure leading up to the competition in terms of rehearsals, recordings and so on.”
Menelle says despite the fact that the calypso arena is still male dominated, women have made their presence felt. Among the women she looks up to are Lady Leen and Singing Sandra. She also added that she missed the presence of young women like Jany Williams who won the crown in 2004. Williams died in a car accident on the west coast road that same year.
“She is missed. It is good to have these type of women on stage, young women who embrace the artform,” said Menelle.
The singer, who aside from calypso also performs at local hotels, knows that her voice is one of her strengths.
“I always try to work on my voice and practice. In calypso you really have to project because you have an entire stadium audience and also the judges need to hear you clearly. It’s not easy to balance it all.”
The new queen also reflected on the difficult year it has been for the calypso artform and carnival overall.
Said Menelle: “In this type of business there will always be financial problems but this year there was just so much confusion, with one side saying yes to something and then the other side saying no. We all have to get together, someway, somehow, and put things in place. We need to have clear leaders. In the end it turned out okay but the confusion was unnecessary. I hope that it is ironed out and everyone ends up happy.”
As for next year Menelle says she already has some ideas but she is looking forward to the upcoming general elections to provide even more fodder for creative songs.