Machel Montano memoir launched

Machel Montano performs a medley of songs accompanied by Tamba Gwindi during the book launch of King of Soca, the biography of Machel Montano by Elizabeth
Machel Montano performs a medley of songs accompanied by Tamba Gwindi during the book launch of King of Soca, the biography of Machel Montano by Elizabeth "Lady" Montano at Guardian Media Labs, St. Vincent Street, Port of Spain. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

SOCA star Machel Montano attributed his success to his pushing beyond his perceived limits and hoped to inspire others to do likewise, he said on Tuesday evening.

He was taking part in a conversation with Maxine Williams, Facebook's head of diversity, at Guardian Media Labs in Port of Spain at the launch of King of Soca:  the biography of Machel Montano, written by his mother Elizabeth "Liz" Montano, known to friends as Lady.

The show was well-paced and varied and moved along seamlessly.

Alluding to a flexible persona, Montano said he often felt like the movie character, transformer Optimus Prime.

"I don't really have a concrete identification of whom I am," he told Williams, when asked if the book had correctly described him. "I don't hold on to any defined edges."

He recalled facing down the "Bajan invasion" in 1997 and the impact of Jamaican dancehall stars by persevering to switch genres from calypso to soca and writing five hits in one go, including Music Farm and Big Truck.

"Some people like to say, 'Fake it until you make it.' But you are not actually faking it. You are willing it until it happens.

"I told the band, 'We need to get five hits and we are not coming out of the studio until we get it.'"

He said once one puts in the requisite work, things would start to flow.

Montano spoke about his high energy levels.

"There's a point when it goes beyond you and you are out of body...because you are riding something that is beyond physical."

Machel Montano’s biography King of Soca, written by his mother Elizabeth "Liz" Montano was launched at the Guardian Media Labs in Port of Spain.

He recalled performing vigorously onstage with a twisted ankle and only feeling the pain of the injury after the performance.

"There is something you realise in this music business: if you really push, you could go further."

Montano recalled pushing himself beyond his limits to the point of having to vomit stage-side between delivering his hits during shows.

He hoped to be an inspiration to others to reach heights they thought were not achievable.

Montano went on to perform with percussionist Tamba Gwindi, when he said his songs were rooted in spirituality.

"The trick that most people don't know is that I write most of these songs in conversation with God. Then I have to turn it into something I could make money with. So I have to change 'God' to 'girl.'"

Guests giggled.

"I just give you a little trick there," he reaffirmed.

Montano said he had once impassionately sought God's help and had then been inspired to write a song about a woman.

"I felt like the yearning for God is like the yearning for love."

Montano sang the song, firstly focused on God, and secondly on a woman.

Earlier, Elizabeth Montano recalled how her son's success had been the work of decades and of a close-knit team of collaborators.

Reading an excerpt of her book alongside actress Pennelope Spencer, she said, "Nothing happens overnight."

Elizabeth said one could change the world, but not alone, and in this must be willing to change oneself.

Minutes later, in conversation with Williams, Elizabeth described herself as a fighter and a problem-solver, and said her son's self-published biographer had been the ultimate insider.

She recalled a visit to a Caribbean country where she and her son had ended up in a police cell on allegations that they had marijuana in their luggage. She recalled her thoughts at that time as: "This has to be a joke!"

She said to find out how things turned out, people should buy her book.

Many figures from the entertainment sector supported the book launch.

Masman Peter Minshall gave the opening speech, broadcaster Ardene Sijoo and Williams were hosts, while televised greetings were given by US singer Ashanti, music producer Anthony "Chinese Laundry" Chow Lin On and soca diva Destra Garcia,

Soca star Darryl “Farmer Nappy” Henry performed. Spoken-word performances were given by Kyle Hernandez (You), Derron Sandy and Shineque Saunders (Toro, Toro) and Keegan Maharaj (We Not Giving Up).


"Machel Montano memoir launched"

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