With two weeks to Carnival, no one is sure whether or not a junior or schools soca monarch competition will be held this year.
The Caribbean Prestige Foundation (CPF), organiser of the international Soca Monarch, previously hosted the National School Soca Monarch competition. However, since it was not held last year, the Education Ministry decided to hold an abridged version called the Junior Soca Monarch competition with six participants.
The event was held on February 5, 2018 at the Queen’s Park Savannah along with Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation’s National Junior Calypso Monarch Competition. Desle Julien, and four-time national soca monarch, Sergio Camejo, tied for first place.
Enrico Camejo, father of Sergio and de facto president the unofficial group, Parents and Guardians of School Soca Artistes, said he was informed that ministry wanted to run the abridged competition again this year. He also learned that the new CPF chairman, Fay Ann Lyons-Alvarez, was willing to restart the schools soca monarch but there was a problem getting sponsorship, so they decided to work together.
While he thanked the ministry sincerely for giving young soca artistes an outlet in 2018, he lamented that no one could “get their act together” to organise a competition for the children in 2019. He said junior calypso, extempo, chutney and mas were all in good hands but not soca.
“You have just destroyed a whole generation of soca artistes coming up here. While I know we don’t have sponsors and people are not investing in the schools soca monarch, we are losing a whole generation of what are very talented children, the future of our soca. When Machel, Bunji, Iwer and they retire in the next 15 years, who are we going to have if we’re not nurturing them from now?”
Asked about the junior competition, Lyons-Alvarez confirmed that funding was an issue. She said staff at the CPF had discussions with a representative of the Ministry of Education and they were trying to put things in place to have one, but no concrete decision had yet been made.
However, she was hopeful saying, “If we make the kids competition less complicated I think we could pull it off.”