Calypso Competition Definitions
Who are the British Calypsonians?
The popular rise of calypso music had its beginning in the late forties and continues to exist in contemporary Britain through the efforts of the Association of British Calypsonians (ABC) an organisation that has kept the art alive for over 22 years.
Initially instrumental with promoting the music in Britain were Lord Kitchener, Roaring Lion and the Mighty Tiger. Tiger was a dedicated and committed calypsonian who leadhis UK based contemporaries in a campaign that established the formidable London Calypso Tent. The London Calypso Tent may not be the first, but it is definitely the longest surviving outlet that has positioned calypso music at the cutting edge of contemporary Black British culture.
The success of the ABC gaining Arts Council recognition and client status has further contributed to raising the profile of the music. Additional assistance from the Trinidad and Tobago government and Carnival Village (London) has allowed ABC to pass on this musical tradition, the first music of the Caribbean, to a new generation of British youth. Read more about us here.
Welcome to the website of the Association for British Calypsonians. Our registered company name is Association of Calypsonians UK.
The Association of Calypsonians UK is a membership led charitable organisation with the aim of advancing and sharing the Caribbean art-form of Calypso in the UK and Europe. The genre’s modern off-shoot “soca” is also fast growing on the world music scene.
We are always seeking new members. Whether you sing, spoken word, compose or play an instrument and want to explore the exciting sound of calypso, soca or fusion we would love to hear from you. If you are not musically inclined but want to learn about the culture there are other aspects such as carnival administration and event management you can support us with.
Join ABC, learn the music, perform, travel, make new friends, have fun and develop your character!
The Calypso Monarch competition is the prime contest in the Calypso Tent. It is given to the calypsonian with the best song for the season. The competition is overseen by three judges and among the prime considerations are lyrical content; melody; topicality/subject matter; presentation (props or additional performers) and overall impact.
The first calypso King contest in Trinidad was held in 1911, when the Jubilee Establishment offered a prize for “the most original song on a local topic”. Originally a male dominated domain, the contest was won in 1978 by Calypso Rose, prompting the organisers to crown her ‘Calypso Monarch’, the gender-neutral title remaining from that day.
In 1957 the Mighty Terror was named “Calypso King of Great Britain” at a charity concert staged by Claudia Jones. This could be said to be the first calypso monarch competition in the UK. However, since the 1970s the term “Monarch” has been adopted for all competitions involving Calypso and Soca music.
LCT exchange programme
There was an exceedingly close relationship between the London Calypso Tent (LCT) and the Organization of Calypso Performing Artistes (OCPA) of Toronto, Canada. This affiliation flourished for several years under the leadership of Tiger Moore in the UK and Colin Benjamin in Canada.
Exchange visits of Monarchs between London and Toronto took place annually with tremendous benefits to all concerned, participants managers and calypso lovers.
Both Tents were honoured to have Monarchs such as Akima Paul, Sheldon Skeete and Alexander D Great exchange international visits with Redman, Macomere Fifi, Connector and Structure. This worked so well that we established a challengeTrophy. The Trophy is currently housed at LCT pending additional funding.
The Groovy Soca Monarch competition was started in 2007, when the ABC/ACUK voted to expand the opportunities available to members of the London Calypso Tent.
The Junior Calypso Monarch contest was started in 1993. and the Black History Month Junior Calypso monarch competition ran from 2005 until 2011 and was developed alongside the Junior Calypso Monarch competition, See all our Monarch timeline and gallery with the links below.
Junior Calypso Monarch
Black History Month Junior Calypso Monarch