Chairman of the National Carnival Commission (NCC) Winston “Gypsy” Peters is defending his right to compete in the 2019 calypso competitions, in spite of the position he now holds. Peters credited calypso for shaping him and said had it not been for that ability to sing, he might have been “pulling seine in Mayaro or catching crab.”
In a recent interview with Newsday, the PRO of the Trinbago Unified Calypso Organisation (TUCO) Ras Kommanda (Steve Pascall) expressed some dissent over the decision by the former Culture Minister to participate in the competition.
Peters has already released two songs for 2019, including a political commentary on when elephants fight and a social commentary about “fake news” in which he says how tired he has become of this “faking country” and that the “faking country” is driving him crazy.
He will also open his own calypso tent this year, Back to Basics, in Tunapuna on February 1. At a time when there is a scarcity of funds for culture, Peters clarified that his tent will be solely funded by him and not by the Government or any of its agencies.
Well known for his prowess in the extempo arena, the former champion indicated his intention to reclaim that crown, which he lost to Myron B in the 2018 finals. He is also trying to secure a place as a finalist in the National Calypso Monarch competition.
The Monarch competition has shifted from the Dimanche Gras on Carnival Sunday night, and instead the finals of both the monarch and extempo will be held on the Thursday before Carnival.
Kommanda submitted,“If I was chairman of NCC, I would not enter competitions.”
He said TUCO, which Gypsy headed at one time, has a written rule that its president is not eligible to enter competitions. He said the group moved for its president, who is also an artiste, to be compensated instead, “because we found it improper and unethical that the president of TUCO should enter competitions.”
Peters is on record as saying people in his position often kept their day job, and as a calypsonian, he is keeping his
Asked about the TUCO PRO position during the launch of I.95.5 Euphoria 2019 last Saturday, Peters said being NCC chairman does not signal the end of his career as a performer. He said he has been involved in competitions for over four decades and would continue to do so.
Peters was appointed to the NCC post last year after a strained relationship with the United National Congress (UNC) led to his resignation from that entity and a realignment with the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM). His name appeared on a list of prospective candidates for the UNC in the next general election. The hierarchy of the UNC has since deemed that list “fake.”
Peters said there is no conflict in him throwing his hat into the competitive ring.
“NCC does not hold any competition whatsoever. NCC is a facilitator, and whether I am inside the competition or outside of that competition, the facilitation remains the same. How does that become a conflict of interest for me? I am a performer.”
Saying he gained a lot from being a calypsonian, Peters said, “Had it not been for calypso, and had it not been for me being a performer, and the renowned performer that I have become, I would have never been a minister in this country. I would never have been the NCC chairman. I might have been pulling seine in Mayaro, and people are not very used to hiring people who pull seine to be MP’s. People do not take people who pick up coconut, which I used to do, and catch crab and pick up bottles. People are not very used to taking these type of people to make them anything significant.”
He said the fact remains, “because I have evolved from that and evolved into a performer, everybody in TT and a lot of people in the world” now know of his ability as a performer of international repute.