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Machel takes Power, Groovy millions
Donning a black helmet and astronaut’s attire, Soca Monarch champion Machel Montano soared. It was a fitting finale to an electrifying performance in which the energised crowd were left about 26,000 soca lovers chanting Pump Yuh Flag. Occasion was the 20th edition of the International Soca Monarch at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, on Friday where Montano copped both the Power and Groovy categories—taking home $2 million and $500,000 respectively.
Prior to the climax which left tongues wagging, soca connoisseurs were treated to a revue including fireworks, free style verses, nubile dancers, acrobats and the appearance of local fashion icon Anya Ayoung Chee and cricketer extraordinare Brian Charles Lara. Lara displayed the national flag. Among those soaking in the stellar performance were Chairman of Caribbean Prestige Foundation (CPF) William Munro, Tourism Minister Rupert Griffith in a cow boy hat and Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Winston Peters.
Declaring he was Mr Fete, Montano breathed fresh joie-de-vivre into Peter Minshall’s puppets Tan Tan and Saga Boy. Tobago was represented in the smiling face of Calypso Rose. Again, as though the planets were in perfect alignment, Montano dethroned 2011 Groovy Champion Kees Dieffenthaller.
Road March rage
Yesterday, Pump Yuh Flag songwriter Kernal Roberts, son of the late grandmaster Kernal Roberts, said: “We are now looking for the Road March. So far, we know it is a squeaky year. We are still thanking God for taking us through the perilous valleys we went through. “I am ecstatic and overwhelmed since it was not one of my stonger years in terms of production and being visible in the business.” Roberts said Montano was resting but they had already discussed their Road March strategy.
Roberts had a vested interest in retaining a triple Road March title. The saga began with Palance (2010) and Advantage (2011). “No one in my era has been able to do what I did with the Road March. Not even Shurwayne Winchester.”
‘Hard battle/sweet victory’
As HD’s Artistic Director Roberts had the pleasure of spurring Montano on to soca supremacy. Roberts admitted there were detractors. He said: “I fought back at the last minute and we fought to the end. We know we have the work to do for the fans. Not every year, you will have a shining year. We had a lot of negative forces railing against us. Everybody does look to fight down against Machel simply because we are the best. We thank them for the good and bad publicity.”
Roberts added: “I want to send a special thanks to Iwer, Bunji and Fay Ann. They were bad talking us left, right and centre. They were teaming up on one man because the man great.” The Greeks would have deemed it a “Pyrrhic victory.” Roberts reiterated: “The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory.” He felt Montano’s ploy to refrain from making derogatory comments and “stiring national pride to the moon” was fait accompli.
William Munro comments: Quizzed on Montano’s peformance, Munro labelled him “an international champion.” “He is a thinker and a planner and he definitely raised the bar. The others would have to come real good for next year.” He extended congratulations and best wishes to all the artistes who had contributed to a show in which he said “99 per cent of the people were satisfied.” Several people remarked they missed Fay Ann and Bunji in the mix.
On the flip side, consensus was Iwer George’s oil paint for his Jab Jab had delayed the show by half an hour which meant that patrons could not get the results before exiting the venue. The show ended after 4 am although Munro had promised “a tight, impactful show.” Technical people felt they needed to be apprised of special effects. For example, no one knew about TC’s impromptu rhythm section. Artiste Shurwayne Winchester’s sample was temporarily stuck during his performance.
1. Machel Montano
2. Kerwin Du Bois
1. Machel Montano
2. Neil ‘Iwer’ George
3. Destra Garcia