The Organization of Calypso Performing Artistes (OCPA) was founded in 1981 by a group of individuals interested in developing the Calypso art form in Canada. Calypso is a rich oral musical tradition that plays an integral role in defining the artistic aesthetic of Caribbean people. The group was incorporated in 1992 with the mandate:
(A) To promote the Calypso art form
(B) To produce and present lectures, concerts, classes and seminars in Calypso Music and related activities
(C) To promote fellowship among its members and to foster collaboration and the exchange of ideas and information between members of the Calypso community
(D) To arrange competitions and exhibitions, establish the granting of prizes, awards and distinctions, and other complementary events and activities
OCPA has produced an annual programme of concerts, workshops, competitions and special events since its inception. OCPA’s major events for the year are the five-week Calypso Tents (June – July), the Calypso Monarch Competition and the Calypso STARS concert in partnership with Harbourfront Centre. Other events are the Junior Calypso & Soca Showcase, Calypso Lime (fundraiser), the Calypso Awards, and the Christmas Parang Party.
The Calypso Tents shows present a programme of newly-composed and arranged Canadian calypso and soca music in June. The series is produced in collaboration with Kaiso Forum and TLK – two independent, calypso music promoters. The “tents” gives Canadian composers, singers, musicians and arrangers a vital platform to promote their new work and to gain public recognition. The music series is OCPA’s most important developmental activity, providing employment and training in the performing arts to a diverse community calypso singers, musicians, composers and arrangers in the GTA and beyond.
The Calypso Monarch Competition takes place in July after the music series and culminates with “Kaiso 365” presentation, where nine finalists each perform two original songs. The competition serves to establish standards for the art form, to promote excellence and to maintain public interest and support of this unique musical tradition in Canada.
The Calypso STARS is a 2½ hour concert on the 2500-seat Westjet Stage, Harbourfront Centre and features the most popular and interesting new Canadian calypso songs from the season, along with top Canadian soca artists and special guests. OCPA has a reciprocal agreement with Association of British Calypsonians (ABC) to feature their reigning calypso monarch at this event and to host the reigning Canadian monarch at Notting Hill Carnival, U.K.
OCPA’s general membership consists of creative and performing artists, as well as individuals who are interested in the history and development of the art form. The organization is supported by a community of avid volunteers and supporters who help stage events, serve on committees, and contribute to the health of the organization. OCPA’s work is supervised by a 8-member volunteer board of directors chosen from membership open to the public. The board of directors is made up of artists, arts administrators, individuals from corporate management and social service sector management, educators, and retired persons - all who share a passion for calypso and a belief in its power to entertain and to educate with its catchy rhythms and stories full of wit, humor, double entendre and thought-provoking social and political commentary.
OCPA is one of the three main artistic stakeholders of the Toronto Caribbean Carnival - the largest festival of its kind in North America. The Calypso Tents and Calypso Monarch Competition add significant original music content to the festival’s programme of mas’(querade), steelpan and calypso.