THIRTEEN years after he last won the International Power Soca Monarch, veteran soca artiste, Neil “Iwer” George, walked away with the million-dollar first prize on Saturday morning.
George promised to improve the attendance at the competition, held at Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain, next year when he defends his crown. George, with Kees Dieffenthaller joining his performance, won with their collaboration Stage Gone Bad. The crowd favourite meant Devon “Lyrikal” Martin had to settle for second place. He sang Rukshun. Third place went to Olatunji Yearwood who sang Thankful.
After receiving his cheque, George, surrounded by his team began chanting “George for the road!” as he hopes to win the Road March title.
“Allyuh know, I have been waiting for a long time. In the history of soca and Soca Monarch, I am the only standing artiste that have been from the inception and still here. I have one of the wickedest reputations in Soca Monarch, I have the most seconds (placement) ever. What I got, I fight for it and I fight to the end it shows that Iwer is a real fighter.”
He added: “I feel very special. I just want to thank the almighty God for giving me the strength to fight up with these lil’ monsters. You see how they call up my name tonight.”
Without calling any names, George expressed his concerns about the 2019 monarch Hollice “Mr Killa” Mapp, who did not compete. George said he will defend his crown as that is his responsibility. On February 8, Mapp took to social media to announce his withdrawal saying he had not received the “courtesies” deserving of a defending monarch from the new management of Caribbean Prestige Foundation (CPF), organisers of the International Soca Monarch (ISM) competitions - Power Soca and Groovy Soca.
In response to a question, George said: “I don’t have a choice I have to defend my title and I have to say this, next year Soca Monarch numbers is gonna grow because I know how to grow numbers. Trust me Soca Monarch, you will sell more tickets next year, watch how I will deal with it. The winner is the one who have to bring the numbers next year. If you win and you drop out you defeat the purpose. The winner have a responsibility to carry the competition forward. Allyuh watch and see.”
He recalled his last win in 2007 when he promised the keys to his Lexus for anyone who defeated him. This, he said, was one of the greatest hype in Soca Monarch history. George won the competition in 2002 and 2003. In 2003, he shared the title with Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez.
Asked about the technical difficulties experienced by him and other artistes, George said he found his microphone was a bit low but he did not allow that to hinder his performance.
The celebration will continue, he said, on Ash Wednesday, as he is optimistic his song will earn him another Road March title as well.
George thanked his family, fans and management team, especially Andre Jeffers who wrote the song. Jeffers, he said, has been writing for him for the past three years. He thanked Dieffenthaller who, he said, conceptualised the presentation. Asked if he will split the winnings with Dieffenthaller, George laughed and said, “Well is family you know.”