Gomez and Regis crowned CASTT champions Joey Rivers Calypso Festival

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Keshawn Gomez and Isiah Regis are the winners of this year’s CASTT Joey Rivers Calypso Festival. Gomez won the seven-12 age group and Regis won the 13-17 age group.

A press release said this was the second year of the eponymous event, with a slight format adjustment that made it more of a festival than a competition. The aim of the festival was to establish a developmental experience for all participants. In addition to the final presentation of their compositions, the young talents were also exposed to a suite of performance and development advice, delivered by experts, professionals, practitioners involved in the careers of several successful artists.

Rivers developed and founded CASTT, (Calypso Art Specialists Trinidad & Tobago), in August 2016. It is a professional music center focused on the successful careers of emerging and established musicians, according to the statement.

“The main goal is to make sure that we have a next generation of calypsonians. Some of our stalwarts have left us, so I believe we need to continue to engage the next group of calypsonians, so that they really understand the value music, production and presentation. If they really want to perfect that craft, this is the platform to start from,” Rivers said.

At the awards show, held recently at Gayelle Studios in St Joseph, Rivers presented awards to all eight entrants. They each received a musical production (CASTT Studio); music video (Gayelle); sheet music (CASTT Publications); guitar with accessories (CASTT Music Supplies); guitar and music theory lessons at the Joey Rivers CASTT School of Music; appearance fees; training and apprenticeship in production at Studio Gayelle; as well as SOS Center professional development training.

This year’s festival was also supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture and the Arts and The Music House.

Present at the awards ceremony was Liz Montano, mother of soca superstar Machel Montano. As a guest speaker, she provided advice to young artists and their parents. Sharing her experience as a manager with Machel, Montano said that when she entered the entertainment business she knew little about it, but as educators she and her husband Monty read a lot so to be able to offer advice.

“That success came from the support as parents,” she said.

But the most important lesson, Montano told those in attendance, was learning that success meant being resilient.

“Even when you compete, it’s not always a better win. You learn to win but you have to learn to lose. So be prepared from the start,” she said.

The awards event ended with an extempo between the young bards, who enjoyed lyrical banter and outfit-focused exchanges.

Rivers, a founding member of Machel Montano and Xtatik since age 12, is an accomplished music educator, musician, and producer. He has aided and supported artists, musicians, folk theater groups, choirs, steel bands, parang groups and conventional contemporary groups over the years, the statement said.

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