The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Toni Ni­cholas

At the ten­der age of twelve Bran­don Phul­gence, who per­forms un­der the so­bri­quet Mighty Siz­zler, is mak­ing his­tory. This week it was an­nounced that he is the youngest per­son ever to com­pete in a Na­tional Ca­lypso com­pe­ti­tion here. Mighty Siz­zler will be com­pet­ing in the Ca­lypso semi-fi­nals to­mor­row, Sun­day July 3, com­ing up against a num­ber of vet­er­ans in­clud­ing Pep and In­vader. The two hap­pen to be among his he­roes in the art form.

Since the an­nounce­ment, there has been much de­bate on lo­cal talk shows and in the streets about his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the com­pe­ti­tion, once the ex­clu­sive do­main of se­nior per­form­ers. Many have ques­tion the suit­abil­ity of such a com­pe­ti­tion for some­one so young, while others are happy that the age bar­rier has come down for the first time.

Ac­cord­ing to the car­ni­val man­age­ment com­mit­tee, or­ga­niz­ers of the event, there is noth­ing pre­clud­ing the young­ster’s par­tic­i­pa­tion, since the com­pe­ti­tion is no longer gov­erned by the Saint Lu­cia Ca­lypso As­so­ci­a­tion, now de­funct. Un­der the as­so­ci­a­tion’s guide­lines one had to be eigh­teen years and older to par­tic­i­pate.

This aside, Mighty Siz­zler, with his par­ents in his cor­ner, is brush­ing aside the de­trac­tors and fo­cus­ing on his prepa­ra­tion for to­mor­row. This week the STAR caught up with the young Ca­lyp­so­nian at his res­i­dence in the CDC in down­town Cas­tries.

We first asked him about his mood at present to which he replied, “I’m calm and ready.

“My par­ents have al­ways given me their sup­port and this helps me to feel com­fort­able, con­fi­dent and re­laxed.” In fact it was his par­ents who first spot­ted his po­ten­tial and at the age of eight prod­ded him to par­tic­i­pate in the Ca­lypso com­pe­ti­tion at his for­mer school St. Aloy­s­ious RC Boys. “I sang at the school from 2012 do­ing Soca first, then un­til 2015 do­ing Ca­lypso,” he ex­plained. Mighty Siz­zler has pre­vi­ously won the school crown and placed sec­ond in his fi­nal year last year.

This year he was the ob­vi­ous choice to rep­re­sent St. Mary’s Col­lege, which he now at­tends, at the ju­nior ca­lypso com­pe­ti­tion. From there he made the tran­si­tion to the Am­bas­sadors Ca­lypso tent once the na­tional com­pe­ti­tion started in June.

Asked what it was about Ca­lypso he was so pas­sion­ate about he replied, “It is some­thing I re­ally en­joy do­ing. It is an op­por­tu­nity to bring out a mes­sage in a song and re­ally ex­press your­self on stage.”

On stage, Mighty Siz­zler is a joy to watch, al­ways ap­pear­ing con­fi­dent and well groomed with his dic­tion and de­liv­ery on point. When it comes to Ca­lypso and Soca, over the years he has watched and learned from his role mod­els in­clud­ing Ninja Dan, Pep, TC Brown and De In­vader. Praying be­fore each per­for­mance, he says, also boosts his con­fi­dence and re­moves all shad­ows of ner­vous­ness.

The young ca­lyp­so­nian in­formed us that he is en­cour­aged by the over­whelm­ing sup­port com­ing from his school prin­ci­pal Ro­han Seon (who in­ci­den­tally is the song­writer for one of his com­peti­tors, Pep). “My teach­ers and class­mates are also very sup­port­ive and this makes me feel that I am do­ing some­thing right,” Siz­zler said. The role that his par­ents con­tinue to play is al­ways of tremen­dous im­por­tance. “They help me to fo­cus and to keep my grades up in my aca­demics as well,” he stated.

On Sun­day Mighty Siz­zler will be per­form­ing the songs “The Sub­stance We’re Made Of” and “De Ques­tion Begs” both writ­ten by Trevor “Jah T” An­thony. He is en­cour­ag­ing all Ca­lypso lovers to come out and wit­ness this his­toric event at the Na­tional Cul­tural Cen­tre grounds.

Be­fore we closed off our in­ter­view Mighty Siz­zler had this to say: “I think that any­one who has the tal­ent should be given the chance and should not be dis­crim­i­nated against be­cause of age. And to the peo­ple who say I am too young to par­tic­i­pate be­cause there is al­co­hol at th­ese events, I want to tell them that there is al­co­hol at cricket and Asou Square which are fam­ily events. That does not mean that you have to con­sume it. Plus my par­ents are al­ways with me, guid­ing me and en­sur­ing that I do what is right. So they just need to give the youth a chance.”

His­tory in the mak­ing: Mighty Siz­zler is the youngest Ca­lyp­so­nian to make it to the na­tional com­pe­ti­tion.

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