Trinidad’s Soca Superstar
Since the 1990s the 38-year old singer/songwriter, born and raised in Trinidad, has worked towards taking soca (calypso’s up-tempo derivative) to a wider market through his high-profile collaborations (Wyclef Jean and Lil Jon), the integration of rock, pop, dance and hip-hop strains into his soca brand and the development of an exhilarating stage show that juxtaposes his adrenaline-pumping singing and wining (a pelvic-gyrating movement), skills with masqueraders, dance troupes, steel bands and pyrotechnics suggestive of T&T’s multi-faceted, kaleidoscopic carnival celebrations.
“For the past five years I have been much more focused trying to build something aimed at taking the music of T&T to the world,”
Montano and his 2013 carnival songs were heartily received at the myriad fetes (parties), concerts and competitions that have for decades made carnival the focal point of T&T’s music industry and a viable springboard to international careers for the island’s calypso and soca acts. Montano captured the 2013 Groovy Soca Monarch crown performing “The Fog” and, in the Power Soca Monarch competition (for faster-paced songs), he tied for first place with his mentor Super Blue, a six-time Soca Monarch winner. Both contests were held during a single show held on Friday, February 8th at Hasely Crawford Stadium. Returning to the competition after a 13-year absence, Super Blue was the crowd’s sentimental favorite, but Montano’s elaborate, energetic rendition of his hit “Float” was unbeatable. Supported by a cast of dancing carnival characters and superheroes, Montano, dressed as Superman, brought the song to a soaring conclusion, flying high above an astonished crowd, a stunt coordinated by Doug Miller of Los Angeles based entertainment company Zen Arts, hired by Montano specifically for the competition.
Expanding his successful Caribbean brand, Montano now owns a record store in Trinidad’s Piarco International Airport, a hub for his music and merchandise, including his 3 Zero Rum brand, launched at carnival 2012. He makes his acting debut playing a soca star and the love interest of Indian actress Priya Anand in the forthcoming film “Scandalous”, described as a Bollywood-style musical comedy.
Meanwhile, he continues to push soca’s boundaries. On December 29th, with a 48-hour break following a concert in Barbados and prior to a Las Vegas recording session with Boys II Men, Montano flew to South Africa to record the single “Possessed” with storied African chorale group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Like a Pied Piper, Machel Montano pulls a crowd. He only has to utter his signature “Yeah yeah” for fete patrons to drop their geera pork and scotch and head in the direction of his voice, as if in a trance. His draw has been so magnetic that when he was unexpectedly absent from Trinidad & Tobago’s 2010 Carnival season, fete lovers and fans were left with a serious tabanca.
“Machel Montano’s sole objective is to make music reflecting the highest expression of who I am. I am trying to better myself all the time, making music, videos and books and taking [them] to the corners of the globe. Along that journey, I put careful consideration into what I want to convey. Sometimes I have to ‘go in’. I take time to do that – sometimes I take the whole year.”
@machelmontanohd 5 Apr
@EntBreakingNews: Pandemonium in New Kingston – Event’s first staging brings out the revellers http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20130409/ent/ent2.html#.UWOxUc8TV3E.twitter …” @machelmontanohd