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It’s on. That is, the homestretch to the 2005 Carnival festivity.

The build up which started as early as Labour Day celebrations in Brooklyn last September, saw a gradual increase in intensity with the official launch of Carnival at the New Song competition in May, followed by the Miss SVG Pageant later that month. Pan concerts climax this Sunday as awareness of the nation’s top cultural festival gathers momentum.{{more}}

Tonight’s Calypso Semifinal marks a turning point in the festival’s build up. Like most carnival observances here, the season is marked by a series of controversies. Some people view them as inevitable aspects of the affair. The naming of the 20 semifinalists has generated more controversy.

From those named, ten will go on to the final carded for Dimanche Gras July 3.

Who will advance depends on their performances tonight. They gained selection on the basis of one song. The semifinalists are: Michael ‘Black Messenger’ John, Fitzroy ‘Brother Ebony’ Joseph, Alexis ‘Lexie’ Joseph, Kingsley ‘Hero’ Roberts, and Wayne Keane (Graduates), Earl ‘Exposer’ Isles, Dennis Bowman, John Dougan, Vincent ‘Groovy D’ Kennedy (Dynamites), Grantley ‘Ipa’ Constance, Gosnel ‘GC’ Cupid, Wendell ‘I’ Lewis, Marlon ‘Gams’ Williams, (On Tour), Jamilla ‘Singing Jammie’ Wilson, Theodore ‘Man Tabbit’ Matthews (Stars) Derek ‘Man Sick’ Alexander, Thaddeus ‘Observer’ Duncan, (North/South Leeward), Kenrick ‘Bum-E’ Bowens, Kenneth ‘Vibrating Scakes’ Alleyne (Theatre).

Scakes, the first Independence Calypso Monarch, has also taken the national monarchy and has been an icon. But even the most conservative critic has expressed surprise about Scakes’ inclusion.

‘Scakes’ number is ‘Nobody Muzzling Me.’ Even with the uproar some other persons have not written off Scakes. He is well respected in the artform and has been known to rise to the occasion. This may be another opportunity to prove his mettle.

On the other end of the spectrum, fans will be paying close attention to two new comers. Singing Jammie and Gams.

Jammie could be viewed as the giant killer. She tied for sixth spot in the Calypso Queen competition, which came off June 11. She is the only female in the line up, a remarkable achievement in the circumstances.

Gams gained a call up after former Calypso Monarch Errol ‘Man Age’ Rose dropped out of the original 20. Gams, the reserve, filled the breach.

Gam’s number is called ‘Send Them Fools A Little Further.’

The New York based Dynamites Calypso Tent did admirably. They are represented by Exposer with ‘Killing We

Self,’ Dennis Bowman: ‘Pinocchio’ John Dougan: ‘Tricksters,’ and Groovy D: ‘Yo Go Buy That.’

Black Messenger will be doing the numbers ‘Rhythm Of Life’ and ‘Vision Of Truth.’

Brother Ebony rendered ‘Good Old Days’ which propelled him to the new Song Competition title in 2005, repeating a feat he accomplished when the competition was introduced 2003.

Lexie did the number ‘We Carnival’ for the preliminaries. He is another one with royalty having won the New Song Calypso version in 2004.

Glenroy ‘Sulle’ Caesar has a list of accomplishments including the most titles in the Independence Calypso competition. He also had a taste of the national monarchy in 1997, and is the reigning Exhibition King, a title he captured last year.

Hero is one of those versatile Vincentians. He is an accomplished pannist, leader and arranger of the band Cable & Wireless Starlift.

Wayne Keane is one with a mellow voice. He has been a vocalist for a number of years and has made his mark on the calypso stage.

Ipa has been a finalist on many occasions; a consistent performer who has been in the top four positions on numerous occasions. He placed second before and has been regarded as unlucky not to have worn a crown. His preliminary song ‘A mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste.’

GC, a versatile and talented sportsman, has also displayed his skills as a pannist. He will be

looking to advance with his number ‘Good Governance’, which takes a swipe at the way the country is being run.

Rastaman I, has been one of the nation’s most unorthodox performers, and this year he has armour of royalty. He won the New Democratic Party’s calypso competition staged earlier this year. He did his winning number ‘Lynch’ in the preliminaries.

Tabbit is a former South Windward monarch. His number in the preliminaries was ‘Memories.’

Sick is hoping to capitalise with his ‘Education Revolution,’ and as a former South Leeward calypso monarch, Sick is looking to return to royalty.

Observer is into the final as well as Bum-E.

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