It was a little after 7 pm. The venue was the National Sports Complex ground. A bearable raucousness emanated from inside - the calypso rehearsal session was being conducted in the pavilion. A gentle-looking woman was seated near to the door.
Her agreeable disposition belied her stage name, Tempest, as she is widely known and though it was three days before the Adult Calypso Finals at the National Park, she was calm. Surprisingly calm for the calypsonian wearing the cap of reigning monarch and within whose power lay a chance to do what no other local player in the field has ever done - win in three consecutive years.
The possibility of her creating a bit of history has already been weighed in some circles and the outcome favours her. But the woman who sings under the name, Tempest, has not made this a focus. She has her eyes on the title for sure and has even considered how amazing it would be if she could rewrite the history books but the only thing on her mind right then was pulling off a flawless performance at the final.
When her calypso career started back in 1993, Tempest announced that she had arrived with a serious piece titled, "Rewrite Dem History Books". The song, which took a jab at the history being taught in schools, failed to reward Tempest with the victory she thirsted after. Now, 13 years later, she is poised to rewrite the history books.
After her rehearsal, she sat down to talk about her piece this year and her nerves going into tonight's competition. This year, she is making an appeal for an end to all forms of violence with "Stop the Violence", a song she started writing in March 2005 and completed in July. It was mere weeks after she had won the 2005 Calypso Monarchy but she was looking forward to the moment when she would be defending her title and she envisioned it would be exactly like that of 2005.
"I almost didn't complete it because there were times when I would have a mental block and nothing is coming to me but my husband continues to come through for me. He would add a word or a line then I would flow from there," she said.
Tempest has been feeding the public instructive music; music that sends a direct message and this time its no different. Her winning entry last year was called "Hand of the Father" ; it urged fathers to live up to their obligations. The piece was so impacting that it received airtime throughout the year- a first for a local calypso.
Before this she clinched victory with the more personal, "Don't Dis my Ability". The song dealt with her frustrations at placing second five times and missing out on the top spot. It also sent a message to those in the field who hardly consider Tempest competition because she is blind.
She has been visually challenged for nearly two decades now but Tempest whose name is Camille Goliah-Basdeo has only become stronger because of it. She used to be a member of the Yoruba Singers before losing her sight and before that; she was a teacher, an accounts clerk and an artist.
Today, she is a calypsonian, one of the few female ones on the local scene and unarguably one of the best around.
Her roots in singing began with her now deceased father, Xenophon Goliah, who she said, played the guitar, piano, banjo and the mandolin. She has vivid memories of her mother, Alvena Goliah singing to her when she was very young.
Tempest even married a musician, Oliver Basdeo who she refers to as her muse. He arranges her music and also helps with the composition.
Going to the competition this year, Tempest is confident her piece will stand out. Instead of looking at her challengers, she looks within, she says, to find the strength she needs to pull off a victory. She knows there is a strong field coming to take the title from her so she is working to keep the crown.
Words like upset, topple and defeat are not in Tempest's vocabulary and when her game face is on (like now) it is a sign that a storm is coming that will only leave the Tempest standing.
When it comes to costume, she says, an outfit that commands attention is what she strives for and over the years she has treated us with some beautiful ones. She takes pride in going on stage immaculately dressed, she adds.
Since sponsors are a crucial part of the campaign for the calypso crown, Tempest lauds the companies that have supported her over the years and which are still in her camp. This year she is backed by GT&T Cellink Plus, Banks DIH, Hits and Jams Entertainment and Ocean View International Hotel.
Tempest first won the monarchy in 1995 with a song called, "Is Only Talk". Since then she has placed second five times and was crowned monarch again in 2004 and 2005. Early in her career as a calypsonian, her songs were written by Clyde Thierens popularly known as Ayambo. It was in 2000 that Tempest wrote her first piece.
Her catalogue of songs now includes "Survival of the Fittest", "Share the Love", "Don't Dis my Ability", "Is Only Talk", "Hand of the Father", "Stop the Violence" and it is growing. Tempest says she will continue to sing for as long as the passion lives in her and that may be many more years to come.
As for how such a gentle creature like her got the name Tempest, she says she has a temper. When she is angry, she is angry and it is usually a good time to clear out of the room or make a run for it. But it is often under control, she adds. And her stage name is Tempest, she insists. She adds that over the years, persons have put 'Lady' before it and she lets it be because she does not really mind being called a lady.
Tempest is a mother of one and though singing is a big part of her life, family and marriage are even bigger.
Whether or not the history books are rewritten at the end of tonight, Tempest has been nothing short of exceptional over the years which makes her a worthy title character for a book of her own.