Soca star Machel Montano has announced an event called Machel 40 on Carnival Friday next year. Carnival will be held on February 20-21, with Carnival Friday being February 17.
He announced it on his Instagram page on Wednesday. This also comes after Montano staged his final Machel Monday concert – The Wedding, a celebration of his marriage – in 2020 and began his soca cruise, Mele, collaboratively with Tribe. Mele was held for the first time in Mexico earlier this year because of the covid19 pandemic.
Machel 40, which marks his 40-year career, will be held at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain. The statement added that doors will be open from 6 pm and tickets go on sale from January 1.
The ad also teased, “From Lagos to Port of Spain.” Newsday contacted Montano’s team for further comment and was awaiting details.
In the past, a number of events are held on Carnival Friday with the International Soca Monarch competition being a major one.
Also on his Instagram page, Montano posted that Mele would be held from September 7-11 next year at Moon Palace Resorts, Cancun, Mexico.
An earlier release about Mele said, “Tribe Carnival and Machel Montano’s Mele Destinations, a five-day, four-night all-inclusive getaway to Cancun, Mexico, is back in 2023.
“After a successful inaugural edition in April 2022, more than 50 per cent of the rooms at the luxurious Moon Palace Resort have already been booked by avid Carnival lovers looking forward to the Mele sequel carded for September 7-11 2023.”
Newsday also contacted the International Soca Monarch organisers for comment but was told to contact them next year.
The announcement raised the question whether the International Soca Monarch (ISM) competition will still be held or if there were going to be major changes to its format and structure and when it's held. It also raised questions of the event's relevance. It has been running for more than 27 years.
Reigning Power Soca Monarch Neil “Iwer” George said it is still relevant and that many other events were usually held on that day.
He added that he is going to be defending his crown. Iwer won the Power Soca category with his Stage Gone Bad with Kees Dieffenthaler in 2020, the year of the last Carnival before the pandemic. The Groovy Soca Monarch winner was College Boy Jesse (Jesse Stewart)
“Every man has a right to decide their own destiny and if Machel feels that God leads him to do his thing, so be it. He has my support,” Iwer said.
Former creative director of ISM and CEO of Question Mark Entertainment Simon Baptiste said it is important to recognise the significance of Soca Monarch beyond the negative associations the public has become familiar with throughout the years.
“As a platform it introduced us to new artistes and emerging and established superstars. From it, we gained insight into the talent and creativity of our people and talent throughout the Caribbean (and sometimes other parts of the globe).
“It empowered some, and motivated others, giving creators bragging rights to announce proudly to fans all over the Carnival landscape. Plus, it provided fuel to songs that play on the road on a Monday and Tuesday. Also, it was regarded as our version of the Grammys and its relevancy helped many artistes gain work visas to travel all over the world and promote our culture and TT’s Carnival,” Baptiste said.
He said competition and the desire to win huge cash prizes were helpful but also a curse to the event. “Poor management, marketing and a lack of commitment by the public and private sector, no doubt hurt its chances to survive, but my belief is that with the right visionaries at the helm – ones without agenda or a desire for a hefty return – Soca Monarch could re-establish itself on the forefront, regardless of any conflict that emerges on that day,” he added.
Baptiste said the getting to see all the participants giving their best was what made the show fantastic and, sometimes, one could not get that from going to a regular fete or event.
“Soca Monarch brought out the best in talent, even if it didn't bring out the best in human beings: but without it, its value, in terms of national, global significance and meaning, is a loss to us all,” he said.