THERE will be no easy route to the finals for reigning Tobago soca champion Nigel Ellis, who will begin the defence of his crown tonight at the Junction Pub, Buccoo Junction. The semi-finals of NTSM –The Event, rebranded from the New Tobago Soca Monarch, begin at 8pm. Among the many changes for this year's competition is the champion being stripped of an automatic spot in the final.
Ellis and 20 other artistes, including veteran calypsonian Michael Baker, will be vying for a place in the grand finals.
As an added incentive, the event’s chairman, Avery Seaton, said two of the top semi-finalists from today’s event will perform at the semi-final round of the Caribbean Prestige Foundation’s Play Whe International Soca Monarch on February 2.
Now in its sixth year, Seaton said the event is annually held to help develop the art form in Tobago and to provide a space for Tobago’s soca artistes.
The competition is hosted by Men of Exile and is not connected to the Caribbean Prestige Foundation’s ISM.
Seaton said, “The Men of Exile looked at the calibre of artiste in TT, especially Tobago and the need for their own space.
“We also host workshops to help develop the artistes along the way.”
He added that Men of Exile is also focused on helping young people.
“We don’t just do soca monarch, we do other developmental projects. Men of Exile is based in Tobago and the founder is the late (former government minister and Tobago East MP) Rennie Dumas.”
The names of the semi-finalists were released on Wednesday on the NTSM-The Event’s Facebook page.
Seaton called on corporate Tobago to support the event.
“I would like to see corporate Tobago, the business people of Tobago, come out a little more and support. This is Tobago owned. This entity is to build tourism in Tobago.
“We already have attraction from the UK side of the world that is interested in coming in the soca monarch in Tobago. We have attraction form Dominica and other countries...they want to come into Tobago.
“The name changed from the New Tobago Soca Monarch to NTSM-The Event. The event is to bring the experience to the island and in bringing the experience to the island, you can now showcase the island in a proper light to the rest of the world. It is a tourism product that we are building,” he said.
The date of the finals and the prize structure for the event will be revealed soon, Seaton said.
NTSM-The Event semi-finalists:
Nicola Kalladeen & Sydney Friday