MACHEL Monday has been on the shelf for the past two years thanks to the pandemic, but that does not mean the show's main act and soca superstar Machel Montano has not been busy. He has been busy getting in tune with the spiritual side of his life.
And on Tuesday, he performed before the biggest crowd in his career – before millions of people online and live at the Maha Shiv Raatri show at the sprawling Isha Yoga Centre in India.
Maha Shiv Raatri is one of the largest and most sacred festivals for Hindus and this year, the gathering at the Isha Yoga Centre attracted more than 120 million people, in person and online.
Montano was introduced as he made his way on stage, as the Soca King from Trinidad and the Caribbean, who has collaborated with renowned international artistes such as Ariana Grande, Pitbull, Drake, Rihanna, Major Lazer, Shaggy, Sean Paul, DJ Khaled, Ashanti among others.
He did four sets, starting with Come Awake and ending with On My Way.
Dressed in a red and black kurta, sporting a multi-coloured head tie with his locks hanging down, Montano had thousands of Indian nationals, including the renowned Sadhguru who kept the sunset to sunrise all-night vigil marking the observance, responding positively to his instruction to dance to the infectious beat of Dance With Me.
Montano introduced himself and explained to the audience, who filled every seat in the vast auditorium, that what he was presenting was soca music – a collaboration of African beats and the Indian rhythms of the dholak.
He then brought on stage, Marge Blackman, whom he introduced as the daughter of soca creator Ras Shorty I, to do a world premiere of their song, Touch the Ground, which was created as part of the Conscious Planet Save Soil movement led by Sadhguru, to raise global awareness and encourage government policy action to revitalise soil.
Touch the Ground is featured on the Save Soil Riddim produced by DJ Private Ryan.
Blackman’s sister, Abbi Blackman, said she was ecstatic that her little sister had been given such an international platform.
She said their brothers, Gary, Daniel and Sean spent years performing in India. She said it was a journey her late father wanted to make, but having been unable to during his life, she was pleased that Ras Shorty's children were fulfilling his dream.
“It’s really wonderful. I don’t know how the collaboration came about with Machel, but I think the Guru asked that the person who co-wrote the song, come along with him,” Blackman said.
An earlier release said this was not just another stage appearance for Montano, but part of his spiritual journey which he embarked on with his wife Renee, and manager Che Kothari.
For the past seven months Montano has been in India participating in a yoga programme (Sadhanapada) at the Isha Yoga Centre, under the tutelage of Sadhguru who is described as Yogi, mystic and one of the most influential visionaries in India. His followers are said to number in the millions globally.
Montano thanked Sadhguru and Isha for the opportunity to perform in India.
In the release Montano is quoted as saying, “It is one of the most profound moments of my life, to be performing at this festival. After 40 years in the music industry, I am overwhelmed with joy and gratitude for this opportunity and for what it represents on a global level.”