Junior Calypso Monarch urges revival of the genre

- entered competition because she had a message to share

It is difficult to believe that the shy, soft-spoken Niossi Alsopp who sat down with The Scene this week, is the same one who took stormed the stage and won the Junior Calypso Monarchy with her rendition of Bonny Alves’ “Drama School”.

But as Niossi revealed, she did not do it for the fame and the glory or even the chance of getting into the National Calypso Championship—which she has—but because she had a message she was keen on sending out.

The lyrics, according to Niossi, deal with the provocative behaviours of teenagers in secondary school, who believe they are too “big for their age”.
In the song, Niossi describes it as more of a drama show than reality; thus the title: “Drama School”.

Niossi felt close to the lyrics because they speak to something in society that she wishes would change. “Bad manners must be stamped out of schools,” she said. “I wanted to send out two messages to the students who are currently in school: Stop the lewdness in life, the time it takes for you to be irresponsible you can be constructive; [and] be involved in Calypso to the extent of reviving it.”

Niossi Alsopp
Niossi Alsopp

The evening of January 26 was a typical night for most people, but for Niossi it was the night of the Junior Calypso Monarch Final and she was a nervous wreck. With no formal training, no previous experience, just two rehearsal sessions and being the only contestant who did not perform in a costume or with stage props, she was shocked when she heard her name being announced as the winner. “I really didn’t think I was going to win, I knew my diction was clear but I really did not dress up like the other contestants. The most I did was borrow a few children to dance behind me. When I heard my name I was in disbelief. I ran to my family and they were trying to assure me that I won but I just couldn’t believe. Overall, I enjoyed the competition, the competitors and the organisers were very friendly.”

Niossi was born to Carlton Alsopp and Shirma February at the Mackenzie Hospital on November 14, 1995. She spent her entire life in Linden, migrating internally from Half Mile to One Mile Extension where she still resides.

She is the middle child and grew up with her two siblings: 15-year old sister, Niomi and 19-year-old brother, Nially.  She described herself as very school oriented, with a passion for knowledge since she always gained top marks in her class. She excelled all through her school life and graduated with honours from the Mackenzie High School after passing her CSEC Examinations with 5 Grade Ones, 6 Grade Twos and 2 Grade Threes. But academics was not all she loved in secondary school; she served as House Captain in her senior year and competed in many sporting events such as long jump, cricket and basketball. “I was never dedicated to sport, but I was committed,” she said.

Always an awardee at school Prize Giving ceremonies, she also sang in the choir. Niossi is now in Sixth Form at Mackenzie High and is well respected as the unofficial de facto Head Prefect.

20130209scenefrontHer grandmother always said that even before Niossi could talk, she could’ve sung. As a young child, Niossi would be sitting in front of the television set singing and mimicking the vocals of the characters. At the age of four she started to play the keyboard with musical training from her father and Mr Mason, a known music teacher in Linden. She sang in Bethuel Gospel Chapel in her early teens.

Niossi feels her talent is genetic because of her father’s musical interest. And her mother has always support her and her sister who is talented in drama. Her parents, particularly her father always encouraged her musical interests saying, “You can have any career you want [along with music]… a doctor or something else, because music never dies.”

Besides her parents and the church, Niossi is inspired and motivated by local artistes Tennecia DeFreitas, Diana Chapman and Tiny Duggan
Niossi’s taste in music is eclectic. She listens to and sings everything, particularly gospel and contemporary. Her interest in singing Calypso is simply to make a statement that the younger generation has the talent to bring it back. “Calypso is lyrically beautiful. It tells stories and sends out messages. It does not have to be anything too provocative but sadly Calypso is dying,” Niossi said. “When young people come with it now we can call it a new face [and] I consider myself to be like a role model for the young; show them what they can do and how they can bring back Calypso.”

She would like to see something more done to motivate young people to be interested in the genre. “They broadcast Soca live on TV, advertise it like nothing else,” she commented. “Why can’t the same be done for Calypso? They should make the same commitment to Calypso.”

Niossi said she loved the experience; she plans on competing at the event every year until she is too old for the Junior crown and by then she will be experienced enough for the Senior Monarchy.

She is pursuing a seven-year programme to become a Child Development Mental Psychologist. She said that probably after her years of studying she will take up music as a part-time career but for sure she will compete for the Junior Crown until the age of 21.

Niossi, who is gearing up to perform tonight at the Semi Finals of the National Calypso Competition at the Mackenzie Sports Club in Linden, expressed thanks to Tiny Duggin and her mother, the Mingles Sound Machine, Ronnel Gonsalves, Lequita Price and her team for supporting her all the way.

Latest in The Scene

20160625Royden Sealey2

Royden Sealey expresses himself through his art

Royden Sealey has always had a passion for art and as a child had expressed this in ways which landed him in hot water.

Lystra Adams and friends at the Royal Ascot

The value of craftsmanship

Those who know me well are aware of my deep appreciation for millinery and the craftsmanship that surrounds it. I think this interest stems from being completely fascinated by the women I admire and find interesting.

20160625Fit

Fit closes Spectrum 12

Painting the Spectrum 12, SASOD’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) film festival comes to a close next week with Spectrum Night, screening of Fit and the customary painting the spectrum.

20160625Rukatuks

Rukatuks for Rodney at NCC tonight

Rukatuks, billed as a benefit show for actor, poet, comedian and folklorist, Henry Rodney, will blasty off this evening from 8 at the National Cultural Centre.

T’shanna Cort

T’shanna Cort has hope in her music

“I Have Hope” is the name of the song with which T’shanna Cort won this year’s Junior Calypso Competition and today, nearly six months later, fans from all across Guyana greet her with those words and praise her performance.

Fashion forecasters (that’s a career too) predicted that 2016’s fashion trends will involve pantone colours, androgyny, romanticism, 70's fashionborn x chictopia

Looking at the bigger picture

Following up on last’s week column, fashion careers, this week I wanted to share with you my general response to the commonly asked question, can the Caribbean actually have a thriving fashion industry?

20160618Antiman

Caribbean short films, Canadian documentary for Spectrum next week

Painting the Spectrum 12, SASOD’s annual film festival continues next Tuesday, June 21, at the Dutch Bottle Café, located at 10 North Road, Bourda in Georgetown, with two short films, Transgender: Back to Jamaica and Antiman.

Scene from Me Before You

The romantic comedy you’ve been waiting for: Me Before You

If you have already grown tired of 2016’s endless parade of comic book adaptations and superheroes, Me Before You is the romantic comedy that promises a breath of fresh air.

Comments

About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: