Bvi Festival 'Sista Joyce' holds on to BVI Calypso crown

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TORTOLA - Virgin Gorda's Joycelyn "Sista Joyce" Searles fended off stiff challenges from nine opponents to retain her BVI Calypso Monarch title in the wee hours of Thursday morning at the Iris Freeman Festiville in Road Town.

Luther "Luther B" Butler - who Searles dethroned in 2013 - was the first runner-up, while newcomer Al "Falco" Frett notched the second runner-up slot and Renold "King Paido" Phillip was the third runner-up.

After opening with "60 Years Strong" and saluting those who contributed to the development of Festival, Searles' followed up with the hard-hitting "Who E Hutt, E Hutt," delving into the hardships people are facing in the British territory and called on the governor to open an inquiry into the controversial cruise pier project.

"If you find them guilty," she sang. "Apply the pressure and lock them up."

Searles, whose roots lie in reggae and spent time in jail for marijuana possession before coming out and singing about her prison experience to seize the crown last year, won best lyrics, best arrangement and best overall performance.

Searles' competition did not give her a pass.

Butler opened with "Youth Man," but in his second song, "Never Forget," he threw a musical punch Searles' way with his line 'Where she come from?"

The reigning champion took notice.

"Some of the calypsonians called me a cockroach," she said. "But they lucky tonight I didn't drop it on them. But, I born here. Now I can leave them with their calypso."

Searles said "Who E Hutt, E Hutt" is very personal and she wrote it while in prison. She said she changed some parts of the song after being released and observing what is taking place in the community and from her own personal experience.

"You don't know how it is to come out of prison because you had a little problem, and you cannot get no kind of little work, but I give Ms. Dawn Flax thanks, because she bypassed me going to jail for marijuana and even though she gave me a job from Wednesday to Saturday, it is still a job and I thank her," Searles said. "I gave her a lot of thanks, because a lot of people I went to for jobs, some of them basically came right out and told me straight up, 'You got held for weed. It if was something else ... ."

Frett's "Politician," in which he sang "Honesty is what we want. Honesty is what we need," and Phillip's "Common Sense Party," were well-received by those who attended the show, which ended after 2 a.m.

The other calypsonans competing and their renditions were: Kendol "King Henry" Arthur, doing "Candle in the Dark" and "I Want a Divorce"; Shereen "Queen Shereen" Flax-Charles, who sang "Equal Status" and "World Calypso"; Lester "Mighty Ley Ley" Fortelio, singing "Diamond Jubilee" and "BVI Lottery"; Desiree "Princess Dede" Pemberton, with "This Young Lady" and "I Am Festival"; Phillip, who also sang "Hope After Emancipation Celebration"; Algernon "Mighty Macko" Mathavious, who sang "Our 60-year Festival Anniversary" and "Searching Me Arsenal"; and Julian "Oginja" Cato, who performed "Overload" and "Can't wait for the 60th."

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