Official opening of Dominica's Carnival - The real MAS 2010 - set for Saturday
Published on Saturday, January 23, 2010

Carnival Opening

ROSEAU, Dominica -- Officials from the Carnival Development Committee have promised an extravagant display of originality, colour and pageantry for the opening parade and official ceremony for Dominica’s carnival, ‘The Real Mas’ 2010.

A wide variety of groups, costume bands, carnival queen contestants and other individuals from across the country are expected to assemble and proceed from 3 pm starting on Victoria Street in Roseau, passing along the Dame Eugenia Charles Boulevard and culminating at the Pottersville Savannah.

The official opening ceremony, which will begin at 6.30pm, will hear addresses from Ministers of Government as well as officials from the Carnival Development Committee.
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By Robert Plummer
Business reporter, BBC News

R&B diva Beyonce has a reputation for being one of the shrewdest businesswomen in music.

Beyonce during a live outdoor performance at BBC Television Centre, November 2006
Beyonce is at the centre of two different disputes in Trinidad

At a time of falling music sales, her most recent album, I Am... Sasha Fierce, has sold six million copies worldwide.

Her concert tours, her endorsement of brands including L'Oreal cosmetics and her forthcoming Heat perfume - to be launched next month in the US - all add to her income.

According to Forbes magazine, her earnings have topped $80m (£50m) a year for the past two years.

But when she ventures into the Caribbean, her appearances seem to court controversy.

On New Year's Eve, she was paid a reported $2m fee for performing at a private party on the exclusive island of St Barts, but a wave of bad publicity ensued when it emerged that her patron was Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi's son Mutasim-Billah.

Now she is set to return to the region with a concert next month in Trinidad and Tobago - but the news has already angered the local music industry and given new impetus to a bitter battle between the country's two mobile phone providers.

Culture clash

The problem is that Beyonce's show in Port-of-Spain is being sponsored by local phone company TSTT, which is 51% owned by the government and 49% owned by global telecoms giant Cable & Wireless (C&W).

[TSTT] blanked the local culture and pushed the foreign
KMC, soca singer

It is also taking place on Thursday, 18 February - immediately after Trinidad and Tobago's world-renowned carnival.

With ticket prices for the concert ranging from $71 to $253, organisers of carnival bands and shows are worried that it will absorb money that would otherwise have gone into their pockets.

"We have nothing against Beyonce," says Gregory Fernandes, who used to run some of the carnival's biggest events as head of the Caribbean Prestige Foundation.

"We are just saying that it is insensitive to bring her at this time. It will affect all carnival stakeholders."

Part of that perceived insensitivity comes from the feeling that locally produced soca music is losing out to glossy international pop.

TSTT logo
TSTT is accused of favouring Beyonce over Trinidad and Tobago's carnival

"Our culture of carnival is on the way out," complained one reader in the letters columns of the Trinidad & Tobago Express. "What used to be the greatest show on earth is playing second fiddle to another people's culture."

Many feel that TSTT, as a majority state-owned firm, should be doing more to promote the local music industry and its performers, rather than importing superstars from abroad.

As it happens, TSTT's Bmobile brand has been associated with many carnival events in recent years, in its continuing effort to fight off competition from rival mobile phone provider Digicel.

But this year, it has cancelled its popular Soca in B-Square concerts, which used to take place in the run-up to carnival itself.

TSTT officials say this is because Trinidad's biggest soca star, Machel Montano, was unavailable to perform, but other artists are unconvinced.

"[TSTT] blanked the local culture and pushed the foreign," said Ken Marlon Charles, better known by his stage name of KMC.

'Local appreciation'

The dispute took a new turn when Digicel said it had also been approached to sponsor a Beyonce concert, but had turned it down because it wanted to promote local culture instead.

Digicel's communications manager, Penny Gomez, told the Trinidad Guardian that the firm had been asked to pay $1.75m for Beyonce's appearance fee, while the entire cost of the concert would have been nearly three times as much.

"We have an appreciation for what is local, so we have not sought to go overseas," she said, adding that Digicel did not have "a limitless public purse from which to draw".

Digicel store in Anguilla
Digicel now operates in 26 countries in the Americas

Digicel, owned by Irish businessman Denis O'Brien, has been operating in the Caribbean since 2001, when it began to erode what had been a virtual monopoly for Cable & Wireless and its partners in the region.

Its entry into the Trinidad and Tobago market in 2006 was particularly fraught, with TSTT and Bmobile fighting hard to minimise the newcomer's impact.

TSTT's response to Digicel's latest comments shows that there is still plenty of bad blood between the two firms.

"We don't have Digicel's limitations of being unable to support an international concert while at the same time lending support to local culture," said TSTT spokesman Graham Suite.

In view of the controversy, TSTT's board of directors has reviewed the company's plan to host the Beyonce concert and proclaimed it a "sound business decision".

But Trinis are currently suspicious of any event that might prove to be a drain on state funds, since 2009 saw Prime Minister Patrick Manning's administration host two costly international summits that failed to bring much benefit to the local economy.

If ticket sales are not as strong as TSTT hopes, there could be an embarrassing financial shortfall - with the taxpayer left to pick up the bill.

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Reigning champion Fay-Ann Lyons

Trinidad & Tobago - Monday January 18th, 2010 - According to the Caribbean Prestige Foundation (CPF - organizers of the 2010 bMobile Blackberry Int'l Soca Monarch & Play Whe Groovy Soca Monarch), a record 300 entries were received for this year's competition. Of the 300, 43 will move on to 'Power' Soca Monarch semi-finals and 39 will compete in the 'Groovy' category.

Semi finalists include reigning champion Fay-Ann Lyons; past champions Shurwayne Winchester, Biggie Irie & Iwer George; plus many returning competitors and a slew of newcomers to the Soca Monarch stage. Veterans Ronnie Mc Intosh and KMC also make their returns to the competition after a brief hiatus.

The semi-finals takes place on Sunday January 24th the Arima Velodrome. The finalists are listed below.

bMobile Blackberry In'tl 'POWER' Soca Monarch Semi-Finalists
1. Asha Kamachee
2. Benjai
3. Blaxx
4. Blaze & JW
5. Brenty
6. Carlene Wells
7. Cassi & Shoalin
8. Da Mastermind
9. Damon Hinds
10. Denise Belfon
11. Erphaan Alves
12. Farmer Nappy
13. Formal
14. Iwer George
15. Jamesy P
16. KMC
17. Lucky
18. Makamillion family
19. Nnika Francis
20. Olatunji Yearwood
21. Patch
22. Patrice Roberts
23. Peter C Lewis
24. Philman
25. Raj Katurshingh
26. Ramie
27. Ricky T
28. Rita Jones
29. RKG
30. Ronnie Mc Intosh
31. Sean Caruth
32. Shal Marshall
33. Shurwayne Winchester
34. Shyann Bailey
35. Solomon Dythe
36. Super Jigga TC
37. Tallpree
38. Tamie Spring
39. Terry Seales
40. Tony P
41. Tony Wylie
42. Zamika Gabriel
43. Zuki & Tim Tim

Play Whe 'GROOVY' Soca Monarch Semi-Finalists
1. Ainsley King
2. Alicia
3. Alpha
4. Angel Moses Charles
5. Berbice
6. Biggie Irie
7. Cassie
8. Chucky
9. Crazy
10. Chrystal Daniel
11. Devon Matthews
12. Falco
13. Gary Cordner
14. Keith Frederick
15. Kerwin Du Bois
16. KMC
17. Lil Bitts
18. Lyon-I
19. Nnika Francis
20. Oscar B
21. Patrice Roberts
22. Pelf
23. Randy Isaac
24. Ricardo Drue
25. Rikki Jai
26. Rondell "RD" Greaves
27. Shawn G
28. Shurwayne Winchester
29. Shyann Bailey
30. Skhi
31. SW Storm
32. Symphony
33. Super Jigga C
34. Terri Lyons
35. Tommy Sanchez
36. Umi Marcano
37. Xion
38. Young Voice
39. Zoelah

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