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—urges more opportunities for youths
By Gabriella Chapman
The Calypso and Soca Monarch competitions have long been an important element in the Guyanese cultural events calendar, for both the seniors and juniors. Year after year, patrons look forward to the witty calypsos and the rejuvenating soca songs that are produced and released by local acts, who also look forward for that time of the year to shine.
This year saw a number of newcomers, all of whom dominated the competitions. In fact, it was a newcomer who broke the record in the Junior competitions. For the first time in history, the same person won both the Junior Calypso and Soca Monarchs – 19-year-old Osei Kwado Clarke who uses his initials as his stage name (OKC).
The competitions this year were hosted by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport on virtual platforms. OKC undoubtedly dominated with his performances as was reflected in the scores presented by the judges, which reflected a unanimous decision.
In an interview with Village Voice News, the young artiste was ecstatic about his accomplishment and expressed that he aims to revolutionise the industry. He said that his passion for music stemmed from since he was a toddler, as he naturally developed skills on the drums by the age of two. He was also into poetry and athletics, competitively, and started his winning streak from an early age.
“Growing up in the House of Israel Church, drumming and poetry were my main focus, thus leading me to take part in the junior Mashramani dramatic poetry competition in 2007. In that competition I was only five years old. I entered with the poem ‘Tourism in the land’ written by my father and I emerged with the first position. When I was nine I also took part in the; Cellink Kid ‘Stage competition’ and got third place,” OKC said.
Just like poetry, his passion for singing was also developed at his church, which is also the home of the former Calypso Monarch, “Lady Nema” and Junior Calypsonian “Edward Washington Jr”.
Being exposed to the numerous cultural events at church, tied with the cultural environment at his Secondary School – Brickdam Secondary, his love for music grew stronger.
“At Brickdam I had lyrical clashes with friends and schoolmates which led me to develop writing skills and since the competition was intense there, I became dedicated to mastering the art of writing. But I was transferred from Brickdam, to the Guyana education trust College in 2016, and that propelled me a bit more because I was in company with like-minded young people with whom I later formed a group with. The group performed at most school events, from Fairs to Graduations, and would usually move the audiences,” the young man recounted.
After completing his CSEC Examinations, track and field became his main focus and this is where he first ran into music Producer Jevon “Chan Dan” Harris, and in September 2020 his first single “Closer” was released.
Since then, OKC has released four more tracks which include his Monarch entries; ‘Brawlin’ for the Soca Monarch and ‘Polos and Tees’ for the Calypso. “For Polos and Tees I knew I’d do well once I stayed focused and ensured I didn’t make any mistakes. That part was a bit nerve wracking for me, because Calypso is a technical art. So I didn’t expect to win, but I knew I’d do well. For the Soca though, I knew my song was tough so I was expecting a top position,” he said.
Now with both titles under his belt, OKC said that he has a responsibility to transform the industry, particularly for the juniors.
“What I’ve been seeing year in, year out, is that the seniors get what I would call this ‘big push’ or a ‘big break’ after the monarch competition, and the juniors don’t really get any notice. No one really treats us like a big deal. I intend to change that with my consistency, making music year in year out and not just for the monarch competition. I’m trying to change the way people view the juniors in these competitions. We have to change the way people perceive juniors. I want people to know juniors can do good stuff as well,” OKC posited.
With just six months in his singing career, he has already been signed to Kast Talent Management which is now his management team. The young man said he is confident that he will be around for years to come, pushing a successful music career.