March 2017

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“That’s why I want a change in the way we do business in the interest of justice,” sang first-year UWI law student Sasha-Ann Moses during her passionate performance at the National Women’s Action Committee (NWAC) Calypso Queen’s competition. With her song, “The Main Witness,” Sasha-Ann, whose stage name is Sasha, took first place as she channelled the plight of people living in the inhumane conditions of the witness protection programme.

“Cold, cold showers, house of horrors with just basic amenities. Stripped of all powers. For days and not hours,” Sasha belted out, her face a reflection of the passion of her performance. It was no surprise that she captured the hearts and minds of the judges as well as the top honour of the night, the biggest competition she has ever won.

From Sasha’s perspective, her win is part of the trend of the modern calypso world. “We have a lot of young people singing calypsoes these days which is amazing because people have been saying calypso is dying,” she explains. She reminisces about thinking calypso was boring and only for old people, but she has completely changed her views since she began singing professionally. Now she talks enthusiastically about the impact young people are having on the genre while emphasising the importance of the legacy of the “older heads.” She observes that there are more songs with themes based on social justice. “More attacking performances on social commentary topics,” she explains, “topics that have been troubling our country. We have more nation-building songs, this year more than ever.”

With her interest in law, it’s no surprise that Sasha picked this award-winning theme about justice. As she talks about her choice of study, it’s clear that it is tailor made for her. “I really didn’t think I fit in anywhere else,” she says and mentions her love of debating and her desire to always win arguments as she grew up. She has been enjoying benefiting from the experi-ence and knowledge of her lecturers and is considering specialising in family or property law one day. Unsurprisingly, juggling her course load and her career as a budding performer has taken some effort, but Sasha gives credit to her mother for helping her manage her schedule. Her lecturers and tutors have also provided support by emailing her worksheets and keeping her updated on course work.

With this strong support system, Sasha will no doubt keep excelling in her field. Besides, she is no novice when it comes to the music industry. She’s already been performing for a dec-ade. Her first performance was as a backup singer to a friend in primary school at the age of 10. Two years later she took up the role of main singer, and she’s been at it ever since.

While singing on stage, Sasha discovered a side to herself which seemed quite apart from her usual shy personality. She observes that she’s always surprising others who don’t think she could be so vibrant on stage. “Everything just flows you know. I’m a totally, totally different person on stage,” she says. That inherent ease is clear as you watch her perform, and she’s evidently impressed many during her singing career thus far. Among her long list of accom-plishments is her placement as a finalist in the Calypso Monarch competition this year as well as the winner of the Stars of Tomorrow title. She was also chosen as a nominee for the top 20 Stars of Gold Calypso twice, in 2015 and 2016. She was the youngest semi-finalist in both the National Calypso Monarch (2015) and the International Soca Monarch (2015 and 2016). In 2014, she came first in the National Schools Soca Monarch and in the St Joseph Calypso Monarch. The same year, she placed second in the National Junior Calypso Monarch. She’s also won the National Emancipation Monarch three times in a row from 2012 to 2014.

With such a promising career, Sasha seems well on her way to achieving her goal of “sharing musical love” and “just making everyone happy with each performance” much like her in-spirations Calypso Rose and Beyoncé. Her passion for music is evident in the way she im-merses herself in it even when she is not singing calypso. She is the lead singer of the band Mayaro 2.0, where she performs funk and other musical genres. When she is stressed she buries herself in music. While listening to and singing R&B, she can stretch her vocals and sing out her emotions.

If her musical accomplishments are any indication, other aspiring musicians would do well to emulate her efforts. “Always build on yourself,” Sasha advises others who want to succeed in the industry. She emphasises the importance of taking criticism as it can help improve per-formance. “You can reach where you want to be,” she affirms. “The harder the journey, the sweeter the victory.”

Dixie-Ann Belle is a writer and editor.