Double M in a double win

Soca veteran wins both titles at Soca Monarch
Originally published in the Guardian's Carnival Souvenir on Thursday 23 February, 2012
Machel Montano and Calypso Rose perform at the Soca Monarch Finals. Photography by Mark Lyndersay.

For the Caribbean Prestige Foundation, it was an anniversary night, marking 20 years since William Munro began a competition exclusively for soca music.
When the show began, it was unclear if it would ever grow big enough to compete with the established Dimanche Gras competition.

For the man who would take home both the Power Soca Monarch and Groovy Soca Monarch titles, it was also an anniversary, marking 30 years since he began singing calypso, a child in school. A year later that child would make his mark in history, capturing the nation’s imagination with a defiant ditty, ‘Too young to soca.’

On Fantastic Friday, Machel Montano, his larger than life presence in the local music market defined with a bold and utterly self-aware title HD, put some high-def moves on a competition that clearly saw him, albeit mostly resentfully, as the man to beat.

It was a situation that Montano had courted, freestyling wittily about his competition during last year’s competition and scoring a win for the biggest prize ever offered at a Soca Monarch competition in the face of a vocal crowd preference for his close rival in both 2011 and 2012, Iwer George.

But as sportsmen know full well, feuds and spats don’t win competitions, your work on the field of play is what wins points and at this year’s competition, Montano brought every big gun he could find to bear on his two six-minute engagements in the competition.

He brought stars, including Calypso Rose, Anya Ayoung Chee, Brian Lara and the massive Peter Minshall puppets, Tan Tan and Saga Boy, and closed his night with a magician’s sleight of hand departure on a jet pack (the flight was piloted by a professional).

His rivals brought energy, great compositions and in the case of Iwer George, a performance that ended after just three minutes. It all made for a great show, but nobody could muster all the elements that Montano had mastered over his three decades in show business.

His win, likely to be challenged and disputed for all kinds of reasons, was ultimately based on craft, smarts and the wily skills of a player who despite his youthful energy and brashness, is now an old hand at this game.

National Soca Monarch Winners
Digicel International Power Soca Monarch

1st Machel Montano
2nd Neil Iwer George
3rd Destra Garcia
4th Prophet Benjamin, Blaxx (Tie)

Play Whe International Groovy Soca Monarch

1st Machel Montano
2nd Kerwin Du Bois
3rd Benjai
4th Nadia Batson
5th Kees Dieffenthaller
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