Local Vibes
February 19, 2010
Vincentians leave their mark on Trinidad Soca Monarch

With two strong competitors vying for top prizes, St. Vincent and the Grenadines achieved relevance and visibility like never before, at the 18th annual International Soca Monarch competition, held in Trinidad and Tobago last week Friday at the Queen’s Park Oval.{{more}}

In the audience, proud Vincy supporters pushed to the front of the frenzied crowd to wave their three diamonds for all the cameras to see. Also in attendance were Minister of Tourism Rene Baptiste, Carnival Development Corporation Chairman Dennis Ambrose and other Vincentian officials, who were furnished with top rate service as guests in the VIP section.

From start to finish, the impact of SVG was evident to all. Reigning Road march King Shertz “Problem Child” James made a surprise guest appearance with the Asylum band while the judges tabulated results.

“It means I’m getting somewhere in life as a soca artist. Respect to Bunji for bringing me on, and the whole Asylum Family. It was electrifying. It was a good experience,” said Problem Child.

In the “Play Whe” Groovy Soca Final, Zoelah went for a softer look, performing “More Water” in a shimmering mini dress of aquamarine chiffon. In the absence of skits, video clips, backdrops and special effects, Zoelah chose to let her soulful voice take centre stage. At various points, the accompanying band slowed down the music, and played more quietly to highlight Zoelah’s exceptional vocal capabilities.

She was joined on stage by a bevy of dancing shirtless cadets. They each concealed open water bottles in hand to wet down their chests with every seductive gyration. While the performance was well received by the audience, the provocative routine lacked originality. Zoelah appeared to recycle the concept from her 2009 Vincy Mas Ragga Soca Monarch performance of the same song. Similarly, The Trinidadian viewing public would remember seeing her encircled by yet another group of sexy strong men when she performed her rendition of “Wine Up on Me” for the Groovy competition last year. The 2009 performance had earned her a fourth place finish.

“She was not as fantastic as last year, but Zoelah has a way of fulfilling the judges criteria, when you least expect, she has met the judging criteria. Last year, I didn’t expect her to place as highly as she did, but she met the judges criteria,” said Minister of Culture Rene Baptiste who was present. “She did well, for her coming so early on the scene and to be at such an international event, we are very proud of Zoelah.”

“I’m looking to place,” Vincentian Soca Monarch Gamal “Skinny Fabulous” Doyle said calmly to the crowd during his dazzling presentation of “De Beast Let Go. Known for eye-catching stage presentations that are jam-packed with surprises, he tried every imaginable trick to create a memorable show. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get what he wanted.

A three dimensional forest-like set was built to set the scene for oversized dancing werewolves and skeletons. Mid performance, one of the fast-footed beasts invited a young lady from the audience to test its wining skills. At first glance, she appeared to be a timid patron, but she soon broke out into the group choreography much to the surprise of fans.

Online message boards continue to display a mixed bag of opinions about Doyle’s presentation, with various posters remarking that his performance lacked the necessary energy. He was also criticized for delivering what some considered a flamboyant show rather than a competitive performance.

Towards the end of his time on stage, Skinny Fabulous climbed atop a welded mas dragon shooting sparking fireworks out of its mouth. The visual effect of the entire package was enough to leave one breathless. Unfortunately, neither Skinny Fabulous nor Zoelah ranked high enough to place in their respective categories.

In the Groovy Category, first was Shurwayne Winchester with “Murdah”, followed by Fay Ann Lyons with “Start Wining”. In third position was Rikki Jai with “Barman”, followed by Patrice Roberts with “Wuk It”.

JW and Blaze was out front in the Power Category with the mega hit “Palance”. Fay Ann Lyons again took the second position with “True Lies”. Shal Marshall and Screwz came in third position with “Police in de Session”. Tallpree was fourth with his hit “Wicked Jab”.

The Vincy presence at Soca Monarch was reflective of the atmosphere the entire carnival. The music of Vincentian artistes rang out at every fete, jump up and stage show.

“I did a show the other night. It was me, Zoelah, Skinny, and Jamesy P, you understand. It was like four Vincy Artists. For a little island like St. Vincent to have 4 artists performing on the same show, that’s a great feat accomplished right there. It means that we’re growing. It means that we’re heading in the right direction. We’re opening the gates for people to come after we retire,” Problem Child declared.

In addition to the visibility of Vincentian artistes, onlookers could not miss advertising slides promoting Vincy Mas and ongoing references to St Vincent and the Grenadines by the Master of Ceremonies. The CDC of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was on board as an official sponsor of the event.

“Last year when I came to soca monarch was the first year that Caribbean Prestige Foundation had soca monarchs from the region at the International Soca Monarch. I noticed that one country in particular was getting a lot of airplay on the stage, said Rene Baptiste. Seeing that our carnival is in June to July, I thought that we would bargain and negotiate for visibility. Very high profile visibility…and we got it!”

Trinidad and Tobago Carnival 2010 came to a close on Tuesday.