Calypso, Love Nia a full-length documentary which looks at the development of calypso, the regional female calypso show, and how the artform is being preserved in Montserrat, premiered to rave reviews at the Montserrat Cultural Centre on Tuesday, December 20, 2022. There was also an online release at niagolden.com on Friday, December 23.
Produced in collaboration with Montserrat Arts Council, ZJB Radio Montserrat and Goldenmedia, the film looks at the island’s calypso history through the eyes of a young fan.
Nia Golden, the 22-year-old filmmaker, said she was inspired to make the film after singing background vocals from the age of seventeen for local calypso shows.
“I did not realise how much I would miss calypso until I spent my first Christmas away from Montserrat in 2021,” Nia explained. “It made me think about how important calypso is to everyday life and I wanted to understand how it became such an important aspect of Montserrat’s culture.”
Dr Yvonne Weekes, theatre arts educator and author commented that “This is an important historical and cultural account of our calypso. Every school child in Montserrat MUST see this. Well done, Nia!”
The film, which runs about 75 minutes, features conversations with Montserrat’s first calypso monarch Justin “Hero” Cassell OE, calypsonians Alfred ‘Warrior’ Christopher, Herman “Cupid” Francis, Everton “Reality” Weekes and Montserrat’s only female monarch Silvina “Khandie” Malone. It also includes conversations with fans, DJs and other cultural practitioners who support the art form as they discuss key moments in history such as the performances after Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and the post-volcanic crisis evolution of calypso. The genesis of the Montserrat’s popular regional female calypso competition is also discussed with former monarchs Chrystal Cummings-Beckles of Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago’s Karene Asche.
Calypso songwriter Paul Lewis, who is featured in the film, attended the premiere and shared his thoughts on the project.
“Calypso, Love Nia produced by Nia Golden is indeed a golden production. I am impressed and encouraged that at age 22, Nia has seen the importance of preserving our cultural wealth in capturing and sharing some calypso history.
“The movie provides calypso lovers the opportunity to see and hear some of their favorite calypsonians, writers, musical arrangers, and promoters sharing their experiences of contributing to culture in Montserrat through calypso. This film now forms part of our cultural documentation,” Lewis stated.
Along with the film, Golden released bonus content on her website which provides additional information on the stories behind some of the island’s most popular calypso songs and moments the singers most regret.
“It has been a rewarding process to create the film. I appreciate all the calypsonians and other collaborators who readily shared their knowledge with me to tell this story,” said Golden.
The film and all the bonus content can be viewed at niagolden.com
Watch the Movie – Calypso, Love Nia – Nia Golden