Stefan Camejo will have to share the Junior Soca Monarch crown this year, as he and newcomer Sherissa Redhead tied for first place in the Schools National Soca Monarch contest yesterday at the Jean Pierre Complex, Port of Spain.
He and Redhead both gave strong performances, with more elaborate presentations than their competitors, using synchronised dancers and backup singers.
Redhead, a 15-year-old student from St Joseph's Convent, Port of Spain, sang I Luv Meh Carnival, written by Elizabeth Pamponette. On stage, she wore a back shirt bedazzled in gold, shiny gold pants designed by her father and gold shoes. Her backup dancers wore red, blue and gold outfits and her back up singers gold dresses.
"I feel really, really excited. I know Stefan. I know he is a good performer. I'm happy I placed first," she told Newsday after the presentation.
Asked if she intends to further her music career, the 15-year-old said she would like to be a soca star in the future.
"I love singing. I love playing guitar. I recently learned how to play quatro. It is something I would like to consider taking further in the future," she said.
When asked how she pulled off such a production, she said it was because of: "Late nights practising with them. Making sure everyone was in sync."
Camejo, a 14-year-old student from St Francis Boys' College, was no stranger to the Junior Soca Monarch stage – this win was his fifth.
"It feels very good, actually. This is the fifth time I've won in a row since I've competed. This year wasn't about winning, but contributing to the culture. Us, this generation, is going to take care of TT in the future. Winning is like the cherry on the cake."
The young singer has aspirations of becoming a professional soca artist and has already performed on the International Soca Monarch Stage and the Soca Drome.
"Most of the time, if I win Jr Soca Monarch, I perform at International Soca Monarch," he said.
However, he is not sure if he will perform at tonight's International Soca Monarch.
Nine-year-old Sekel Mc Intosh from Arima Boys' Government School bounced around the stage with the energy and confidenceof a professional performer, even though this was his first time competing in the Junior Soca Monarch.
Dressed in a red racer's suit and accompanied by two boys dressed as Mario, Mc Intosh placed first with his song We Back On The Road.
Twenty-three students competed. Lovell Francis, minister of state in the Ministry of Education, was on stage to watch the students perform and said he was very impressed with the performances.
"I know how hard it is to stand in front of the stage and deliver, much less singing – which I cannot do – so I appreciate the efforts of the children. I appreciate the efforts of the teachers and parents who support them. As a cultural thing it is a good thing. It means that soca will not die, because there will always be a generation to keep it alive," he said.