FEATURE: Benno discovers love for calypso

Click here to listen to excerpt of Benno’s interview with DNO’s Edona Jno Baptiste

Richard ‘Benno’ Christmas performing at eliminations round of calypso competition

Newcomer in the calypso arena Richard ‘Benno’ Christmas had a plan to use calypso to bring exposure to his bouyon band Xcess Groove, but in the process of executing that plan he has fallen in love with the art form.

“..Coming into the arena, meeting the guys and getting into the whole calypso mood it’s like a movie where a guy is paid to go out with a girl and he ends up falling in love with the girl,” Benno told a Dominica News Online reporter.

“I feel like I have to carry the torch with me because I am the lead singer, I am the band leader. So I think if I get my name out there …  you know get my face out there, the popularity that would boost my band as well,” Benno said.

In his song, ‘Once, twice’, the calypsonian speaks to a girl names Nica, who is in an abusive relationship. Like many calypsos, the song has an underlying meaning. The political connotations had prompted calls for Benno to change the words.

“Basically I’m telling her to get out. However, the song was composed during election time so that has been a problem I could say, because people have been calling me asking me not to sing the song. People have been telling me to change the words of the song… it’s a masked song … it’s political but to me when I sing it I sing it for the people in abusive relationships telling them to get out,” the calypsonian remarked.

The song was penned by prolific calypso writer Pat Aaron.

Benno was taught by Aaron how to play the bass guitar and sing, has a longstanding relationship with him.

“I grew up with Pat. I was around when Pat wrote for Scratchy, I was around when he wrote for Dice because we grew up in the same village, Morne Prosper. So I know Pat like a brother or an uncle because I call him Uncle Pat, and I’ve always been asking him to write songs for me; he showed me how to play the bass guitar, he showed me how to sing and now he’s my writer,” Benno added.

In his calypso performance, the upcoming calypsonian endeavors to emulate the charisma of four-time monarch Dice’s and the ‘unbelievable voice’ of calypsonian Scratchy. He considers such a combination “dynamic.”

His involvement in music includes being a former member of the Sixth Form Sisserou Singers under the supervision of Senior Cultural Officer Pearl Christian. Benno has also been a coach to others, training them how to control their voice. Since then his writing skills has improved; he gives credit to band member Madison Etienne for that. Benno participated in the 2009 Soca Monarch competition.

“The progress it wasn’t a slow process, it was rapid. I think I’ve gotten better in terms of usage of the stage, projecting my voice … I still have a lot to learn, in life you never stop learning, everyday is a lesson …from back then to now I have improved greatly,” according to him.

Benno will compete with 31 other calypsonians at the quarter finals competition carded for this Saturday at the Newtown Savannah. Former calypso kings like Daddy Chess, Hunter, Scrunter and De Observer will be among that group of contenders.

Benno said he will be able to accept defeat if he does not make it to the semi-finals since he is competing against many experienced performers.

“I see it as fun, I don’t really take it serious. You know some people they deliberately do things to hinder your chances from winning… I look at it as fun … if they win they have way more experience than I have, so it’s just an honour to be in the realm with guys like Hunter and Dice … and to be competing against them it’s just like reaping the spoils I should say.”

The 20-year-old is a former student of the Saint Mary’s Academy (SMA). He is employed at the Scotia Bank.

(Edona Jno Baptiste – News Coordinator/Reporter)

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15 Comments

  1. charmed
    February 10, 2011

    keep it going beno!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    will always loveyou booo!!!!!!!!!!!!
    :lol: :-P :-D :wink:

  2. June 1, 2010

    Really interesting writing. Honestly.

  3. Nekita
    February 7, 2010

    First of all Mr. Anonymous, don’t be jealous. You remain anonymous because you are hiding behind your ignorance. Its ignorant people like you that make the world such a horrible place. Just give him credit for what he is doing. If he were out there stealing and committing crimes you would have something negative to say. He is doing something positive and yet negativity is spoken. Wateva. Benno I love you and continue to do your thing. Hope I can make it to D.A. soon to see you perform. Your Cuz

  4. Chrissia Benoit
    January 20, 2010

    you go Beno am right there supporting you am happy to see that the young people from morne prosper is being positive and staying focus

  5. January 17, 2010

    Good luck…I saw your performance at Soca Monarch and you really went all out… I was impressed!

  6. Tanner
    January 16, 2010

    To my partner B for B… Rip the runway. You have the talent, the charisma and the dedication. You will show them.

  7. Ridge
    January 16, 2010

    YES I BENNO, DOING BIG TINGS, THAT CROWN IS YOURS EASILY, YOU CAN DO IT, IF IT WASN’T FOR YOU THE BAND WOULDN’T BE AT THE STAGE IT IS NOW, YOU JUST HAVE TO MAKE THE PROPER ADJUSTMENTS TO CERTAIN PPL IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN, LOL. BUT BIGG UP MAN, I’LL BE ROCKING YOUR TUNE ON THE BIG SHIP, TAKE CARE BRODA!! MILLA YOU LARGE, BLESS UP

  8. milla
    January 14, 2010

    To the person who left that commof reaction from time to time but ent ,”stupes” i just letting you know that u proving yoursefl to be the object of ridicule in every calypso song : the moo , moo that talking or an animal in the animal farm , of course u are not receptive enough to be a puppet master and i am so sorry that you cannot find puppets to string along with you when u insult and disrespect our local artist ….. When you do something stand behind it …… looking forward benno , please use this as fuel to the fire , we get this kind reaction from ppl but soon see they dont get far because through they try to fight u down , the mass of the genereal public will never fight down a vibes and benno in kaiso is a vibes ……………. keep it coming we will keep supporting and he/she will keep on making negative comments . take it to the world big up to xsgroove u have a solid support system

  9. January 14, 2010

    The person who made that “stupes”.comment nothing personal
    But do u know that ppl like u are the object of ridicule in every calypso?
    You are the moo moo that talking , the biggest animal on the farm , not receptive enough
    To be a puppet master though …. You were asked simply to place ur views on a young upcoming calypsonian and the
    Most u can come up with is stupes ? Good thing the fate of calypso is not left to u or ppl of ur type
    And as u can see ur comment was overlooked …. Good job benno , keep it going ….
    Xs groove is the band , and benno is the king ….. Keep on hating …. We keep on making it
    We are for the better of dominica . U are not . God bless d/ca news online .

  10. DA MAN IN BOSTON
    January 13, 2010

    TRUST ME
    I haven’t hear you yet brother, but i can throw my support behind you, SMA product in calypso”” you go boy! doe mind the> stupesers<< just brush your shoulders for the haters, you can achieve whatever you conceive, your mind and your spirit is your guide. just keep working on what you have. the sky is the limit. good luck.

  11. Anonymous
    January 13, 2010

    stupes??? i cannot understand how negative dcans are. here is a young man trying to uplift himself in the music business. and all someone has to say is stupes?? hmmph…some people can be such haterz…

  12. Tech
    January 13, 2010

    This boy is really talented. Two years ago he had a Soca song “We Like It” – pure trini ting.

    I hope you still taking my advice Richie…love what you do…just sing and enjoy yourself.

    Good luck.

  13. Anonymous
    January 13, 2010

    stupes!!!!!!!!!!

  14. January 13, 2010

    I like to hear that. To me, in the long run, that’s what Calypso and Carnival is all about, having fun. If you’re not having fun in calypso, then it’s not for you. I don’t know the young man personally, but he seems to have a good head on his shoulders. Good luck in your endeavours.

  15. Morne Pros
    January 13, 2010

    Way to go Benno keep it up! Morne Pros massive behind you. Once you are comfortable with your lyrics sing my brother you cannot please everyone but yourself.

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