SOCA star Machel Montano gave words of encouragement to the former students of the University of TT when the tertiary institution held its graduation at the O’Meara Campus in Arima, on Thursday.
He was presented with an honorary Doctor of Arts degree by the university.
Montano, who turns 44 later this month, thanked those who supported him throughout his career over more than three decades.
He thanked his parents Elizabeth and Winston and his brother Marcus for their support, and also paid tribute to his music teacher.
“I want to dedicate this award to him also – he was a blind man by the name of Ashford Joseph of Siparia. Rest in peace. I wish he could have seen this moment.”
Montano was among five special awardees at the ceremony. The others were Pearl Eintou Springer (Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts), Alvin Corneal (Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters), Leo Martin (Honorary Doctor of Science) and Roy Augustus (Honorary Distinguished Fellow).
Montano reflected on a moment early in his music career that demotivated him, but he persevered.
At nine years old in 1984, Montano performed with the help of a cassette at City Hall, Port of Spain. He said when he was singing the cassette stopped working.
“I wanted to give up. I ran off stage very embarrassed. This was the beginning of my career and I thought it was the end.”
After some help from the band, which included current UTT professor Dr Hollis Liverpool (calypsonian Chalkdust), Montano performed the song and won the competition. He asked the audience to give Chalkdust a round of applause. He told the graduates to keep striving.
“For a lot of you this may be the beginning of your career and it may be the end of your education. Don’t matter what, life is everlasting and when you feel like it is an end I want you to know it is a beginning. To reinforce his message, Montano then sang We not giving Up while accompanying himself on the guitar.