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Lesson’s From The Soca Kingdom: Machel Monday, Unity and Love.

Machel Montano, aptly dubbed the King of Soca held his annual concert, Machel Monday on February 5th,  2018 in Trinidad drawing patrons and fans from all over the world. Now in its 15th year, Machel Monday which was known before as the “Alternative Concept”, is the first major fete that kicks of the country’s traditional festival known as “The Greatest Show on Earth – Carnival.” Taking place the Monday before Carnival Monday, it has become one of the most anticipated shows to grace the season.

With flags flying high representing their countries and not forgetting their heritage, people of every creed, color and race partied while Montano delivered a spectacular show full of an out of this world energy to his fans.  As patrons danced to the rhythm and sound of the music, this son of the soil performed his non stop hits one after the other not forgetting to emphasize on the importance of this year’s theme for his show, “ We are all connected”,  focusing on love and unity amongst each other as a nation and as a people- for we are all equal in the eyes of God despite ethnicity or the color of our skin.

For six hours, Machel kept the crowd wanting more and more, chanting and singing along to his top charting, winning hits that took home many titles for him which included the 2014 Soul Train Music Award for Best International Performance, Road March, Soca Monarch and Groovy Soca Monarch, just to name a few.   To open the show, the chutney soca (a crossover style of music that incorporates the elements of Soca and Indian music) band known as Karma set the pace for the night by singing a number of hits belonging to different artistes and genres of music including soca, chutney, dancehall, latin , pop, hip hop and reggae.  Trinidad, being a cosmopolitan country and one of mutliple ethnicities is infused with various cultures hence the exposure and love for of every genre of music.

Karma and the reigning Chutney Soca Monarchs at Machel Monday 2018 photographed by JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK for Sagaboi

One of his biggest surprises of the night was the appearance of fellow soca star, Bunji Garlin, who wasn’t mentioned as a guest artiste at the show.  Bunji, who is known internationally for his song Differentology, which has been featured on tv-shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, won him the 2013 Soul Train Award for Best International Performance and had him on tour with the famous electronic trio, Major Lazer, who also did a remix of the track.  Bunji and Machel brought full fire to the night with the performance of their 2017 hit, Buss Head.  These two artistes have had a history of differences in the past in the music industry.  But to set an example to all, they showed us that as a people love and unity conquers all.  Another surprise was the appearance of Garlin’s wife and daughter of the legendary Super Blue, Fayann Lyons Alvarez who performed a number of her hits, which also won her the title of Road March.

Bunji Garlin- Viking of Soca at Machel Monday photographed by JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK for Sagaboi.

Machel Montano and Bunji Garlin photographed by JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK for Sagaboi

Fayann Lyons Alvarez and Machel Montano photographed by JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK at Machel Monday 2018 for Sagaboi

The Soca Kingdom was officially opened at 10pm sharp with a masquerader wearing a costume designed by Mas Legend Peter Minshall called the Death and the Maiden.  Peter is known internationally for creating some of the greatest Carnival costumes ever worn, both locally and abroad.  He played a crucial role in designing for the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in 1992 and 1996 as well as the 2002 Winter Olympics,  among other major events.  This was followed by Masqueraders from Minshall’s and Exodus’ collaboration, Eyes of God, another theme on which the entire show was focused on.  While the band which included sailors with flags paraded across the stage, the time for the man himself to surface came.  From within the sea of white, emerged Machel Montano and soca legend Super Blue, performing their road march contender and theme song for the night, Soca Kingdom.  This sent the vibe and pandemonium of the night to a whole other level. The crowd went wild.  This night was infused with intergenerational collaborations,  where both icons of the older generation integrated with role models of the younger generation to create a night of escape for every man and woman.  This event for some of its patrons was therapeutic, it served as a break from reality, a time to let go and be stress free and for others a night of absolution and exoneration from their everyday trials.

Machel Montano and Soca Legend- Super Blue at Machel Monday 2018 photographed by JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK for Sagaboi

The show then continued with non stop performances from Caribbean artistes such as Skinny Fabulous and Problem Child from St. Vincent, Marzville from Barbados, Shenseaa from Jamaica, Lil Natty and Thunder from Grenada, from Trinidad Preedy, Nailah Blackman, Turner, Lyrikal, Iwer George, Erphaan Alves, Voice (the reigning International Soca Monarch), Marge Blackman, Patrice Roberts, Nadia Batson, Nishard M, Neval Chatelal and winners of Digicel Music Academy Show, Abdiel Matamora from Trinidad and the St. Lucian duo Jean Farrah and Tyler Auguste known as Lu City.  Not forgetting the highlight of the night, the appearance of hip hop recording artist, French Montana, who performed some of his hits including I’m All The Way Up and one of his most recents , his first song ever as lead artist to reach the Top 10 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, his collaboration with fellow artiste, Swae Lee of the hip hop duo Rae Sremmurd, Unforgettable.  French Montana, whose real name is Karim Kharbouch, was born in Morocco and migrated to the US at a young age, has been advocating for Universal health care and education for the poor in Africa and the continuation of the DACA program also known as the “Dreamers” program in the USA.

French Montana at Machel Monday 2018 photographed by JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK for Sagaboi

French Montana and Machel Montano photographed by JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK at Machel Monday 2018 for Sagaboi

When it comes to non-stop entertainment full of energy and excitement, Machel Montano is one of the Caribbean’s greatest offering to the music industry. Machel Monday, his biggest product now sits as one of the most anticipated events on the Trinidad Carnival calendar. It is a representation of unity, sharing love, forgiveness, compassion, equality and reconciliation.  For in reality, we all are granted the gift of one life and how we choose to live it, is what counts in the end.

Machel Monday 2018 photographed by JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK for Sagaboi

Machel Montano photographed by JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK for Sagaboi

Shenseaa and Nailah Blackman at Machel Monday 2018 photographed by JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK for Sagaboi

WORDS: JOSANNE BRIGGS
PHOTOS: JERMAINE CRUICKSHANK

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