Victory is indeed sweet for Lester Charles. Last Saturday the singer, who goes by the stage name “The Professor”, captured the 2009 Mashramani Calypso crown, which can only be described as just reward for years of hard toil and dedication.
On Saturday, the Professor delivered his lecture on how to “Save de Land”, with such confidence and skill, that there was no doubt as to who the winner was.
Yet, getting to this point was not easy. Prior to the final, Charles spoke about his experiences singing calypso and some of the “ups and downs” that he has experienced. He said that the very first time he took part in a Calypso competition (which was back in 2000) he finished last of six contestants. This was a competition sponsored by his workplace the Aroaima Mining Company, but Charles said that the defeat only egged him on.
He continued to practice the calypso art form and decided to enter the Mashramani Calypso Competition in 2005, where he reached the finals but did not space. He did not participate in the Mashramani competition during the next two years, primarily because of the lack of financial support coupled with his busy work schedule. Yet all this time, Charles continued to practice his trade with the principal objective of rising to the top of his field.
He made an agonizing return to the Mashramani Calypso Competition last year when he lost the competition by a single point, placing second behind Young Bill Rogers, with his song “The Best Region”. He described this as a “heart-rending” experience as the crown had only just eluded his grasp. In spite of this, Charles said that he was not bitter since he felt that Rogers deserved the title.
Charles said that this defeat made him even more resolute and increased his determination to put his best foot forward this year and to capture the crown.
When he entered this year’s competition, he felt that he had a very good chance of winning. But when he heard the songs of some of the other competitors such as Dawn Edwards, and D’ Ivan and Calypso Stella, he felt he had a challenge on his hand. Added to this, there was the threat of the defending champion Young Bill Rogers.
On Saturday night, when he discovered that he had to perform first, he said he was a bit nervous but said he was ready for the challenge.
And ready he was. Charles was by far the most impressive singer on display. He managed to capture the hearts of the audience – something he says all performers seek to do. So when Charles was announced as this year’s Adult Calypso King it was not surprising. The victory has won him a cash prize of $550,000, which is a handy sum of money.
His song “Save de Land” calls on the leaders of the country to get their act together and move Guyana forward. He said that working in the bauxite industry has exposed him to the vast wealth of the country, but sadly the country has not been able to put this to maximum use. The chorus of his song was pellucid: “We country blessed/ But we leaders dem is what causing de pain/ We country blessed/But de opposition dem is the same/ We country blessed/ But none of dem can clean up this mess mess/ We country blessed/ But de cost of livin is stress, stress”.
Charles, though, is not being distracted by his success and told The Scene that he already has his eyes set on defending his crown in next year’s competition. But next year he would also like to participate in the Soca Competition and he has his eyes set on capturing that crown as well.
Given his dedication, this does not seem to be beyond the reach of the Professor.