PHILIPSBURG—Morenika Charles-Arrindell, the first female and current Calypso Monarch of St. Maarten, will be representing the island at the 20th Annual Leeward Islands Calypso Monarch Competition in Anguilla on Saturday, August 6.
Charles-Arrindell, who sings under the name Shakiya, will be leaving St. Maarten for Anguilla on Wednesday, August 3, to meet up with the rest of the competitors from across the Leeward Islands. The Leeward Islands Calypso Competition pits the reigning Calypso Monarchs, from participating islands, across the northern Caribbean, against each other for two rounds.
“I am very excited and honored to be the first female Calypso Monarch to be representing St. Maarten at the Leeward Islands Calypso Competition and I am definitely doing all that I can to ensure that I have a great showing and maybe even return to St. Maarten with the crown,” Shakiya said.
St. Maarten has only won the esteemed competition once, when it was represented by King Beau Beau, though others representing the island have always had stellar performances and great feedback from the audiences.
“Right after I won the Calypso Monarch Competition here in April I was informed that I would have to represent St. Maarten in Anguilla, which I actually had heard about before, but had not really imagined myself performing in. So this information was met with both excitement and nerves. However, I am approaching it the same way I do with each competition; focused on what I bring to the table and open to the experience of performing with other people, who also have a love and appreciation for Calypso,” Shakiya said.
This year eight calypsonians, including Shakiya, have been confirmed by the Anguilla National Carnival Committee (ANCC) to compete in the twentieth staging of the competition. Competitors will come from Anguilla, USVI, Barbuda, Montserrat, Nevis, St. Kitts, Tortola and Antigua; the island which currently has the crown after Keithroy “De Bear” Morson took top honors last year. Shakiya will be the first female Monarch to represent St. Maarten, going head-to-head against the other calypso contenders in two rounds at the Landsome Bowl Cultural Center in The Valley.
“I’m really very excited about the whole thing. I cannot say it enough. I never lose sight of the fact that Calypso is bigger than me. That I am very much still a student; humbled by and in awe of the people I get to compete with and against. Calypso is very Caribbean, it is the music and voice of Caribbean people and I am honored to do my part to ensure that it continues and there is room for newer generations to experience and be a part of,” Shakiya said.
Shakiya encourages all Calypso lovers from St. Maarten to come over to Anguilla on Saturday to show their support for St. Maarten Calypso, their St. Maarten Calypso Monarch and of course the other contenders. The competition starts at 8.30pm and can last into the night, so those traveling over to Anguilla should secure accommodations. Cost of tickets are $15 and can be bought at the gate.
President of the St. Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) Alston Lourens also encouraged all Calypso lovers to support St. Maarten’s Calypso Monarch in Anguilla. “We are proud of the fact that St. Maarten made history this year with its first female Calypso Monarch in the 47-year history of Carnival. Now we have to support as best we could so she can dominate in Anguilla. We wish Shakiya the best of luck. We know she will represent St. Maarten proudly,” Lourens said.