Excitement at Junior Soca Monarch finals

Zachary Ransome jumps for joy after being crowned the Junior Soca Monarch (primary schools) champ on Thursday at the Queen's Park Savannah. - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale
Zachary Ransome jumps for joy after being crowned the Junior Soca Monarch (primary schools) champ on Thursday at the Queen's Park Savannah. - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

This year's winner of the Ministry of Education’s Junior Soca Monarch, in the secondary school category, is 17-year-old Gabrielle Mc Donald of St Joseph's Convent, San Fernando. Mc Donald dethroned the title holder, her younger brother Marcus Mc Donald, with her song Versatility.

The competition, held at the John Cupid Carnival Village in the Queen’s Park Savannah on Thursday, was attended by scores of excited students and anxious parents.

Mc Donald took the stage in a white suit, accompanied by back-up dancers in traditional sailor and dame Lorraine costumes, while masqueraders and moko jumbies lined the stage's front, all while she gave a spirited performance.

WINNERS: St Joseph's Convent, San Fernando student Gabrielle Mc Donald and Montrose Government Primary School's Zachary Ransome with their trophies. - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Speaking after being crowned, Mc Donald said her song was about showcasing TT's culture. While her brother placed second, Jalessa Lazarus placed third.

"We need to display our culture to the entirety of the world. That's important because the amount of time, energy and effort that's put into our cultural display should be broadcast across the globe, just like any other genre,” Mc Donald said.

She added that she does not practise with her brother and did not see his performance until he took the stage.

“I actually never saw his performance before, but I know Marcus always brings energy and life to his performances, so it was no surprise that he was really good.”

The upper sixth-form student said despite not being able to enter the competition again, she has no plans to quit.

“I want to pursue music and just carry that on in life. I think soca is honestly a good genre in that it brings colour to the world.”

Past Junior Soca Monarch Aaron Duncan was a guest performer at the competition on Thursday at the Queen's Park Savannah. - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Fifteen-year-old Marcus Mc Donald told reporters he felt good even if he couldn't retain his crown.

“The title is still in the family, first and second place, and I could only lose to blood. It's all love, and I'm proud of her," Mc Donald said, adding that with time still on his hands, he intends to try again next year to claim the crown.

Preysal Secondary's Alicia Antoine gave a dynamic performance at the Junior Soca Monarch finals on Thursday. - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Adding to his sister’s earlier remarks about not practising together, he said, “We keep rehearsals separate. When we perform, it is still a competition. We might be family, but we still have to compete against each other.”

Marcus described his sister’s performance as amazing.

“I sat there and watched it. I never saw it before. I was completely amazed when I saw it. I was like, 'Whoa, I feel like I have some competition today.'"

The form four student of Presentation College said he loves performing and will never stop.

“I'm never going to stop doing this, I love performing. This is something that I love to do, and there's no stopping it.”

Not to be forgotten, 13-year-old Jalessa Lazarus from Athens School of Education in Tunapuna said her song Focus was written to encourage young girls to focus on their schoolwork and forget boys. She called the topic very important because she has seen some of her peers neglect their schoolwork and get caught up in school romances.

Lazarus gave a sleek performance accompanied by her friends and she said her best friend and cousin were the ones who choreographed the piece.

She ended her interview by saying, "Boys and books don’t go together.”


In the Primary Schools segment of the competition, Montrose Government Primary student Zachary Ransome's Rankatang was head and shoulders above the rest of the competition.

It was his second win on Thursday, having snagged the Eastern Credit Union Junior Calyspo title hours earlier.

He celebrated the win with second-place winner and crowd favourite, Kymani "Yung Mani" Hector-Kalloo, from St Peter’s RC Primary School. Celine Charles, from Valencia RC Government Primary School, placed third.

Ransome spoke with reporters after collecting his trophy.

"I improved a lot. I did a lot of work. My mother made me do a lot of rehearsals to tighten up on some little stuff. Well, it was useful, I see now." He sang praises for his mother. He also thanked his uncle Shaft for writing his song.

Ransome said his goal is to be the biggest soca singer in the world and he takes inspiration from "my soca superstar," Machael Montano.

Ransome, the last performer of the day, had to restart his performance because of technical difficulties.
"I just kept breathing,” he said.
Before leaving to celebrate with his family, Ransome had one piece of advice for fellow youths: "Follow your dreams."

ASJA Girls' College, Tunapuna student Isabella Williams performs Chutney in Meh Soul at the Junior Soca Monarch finals on Thursday.  - Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Morisha Ransome said her son began practising for the competition in December.

Second-place winner Hector Kalloo, ten, said he began practising in January and wrote his song, Just Party.

"Since last year, I've been planning to enter. I entered last year, so I decided I would enter again. I like the energy. I like the music, the rhythms and the melodies.”
Hector said his favourite soca artiste is Machel Montano and he would love to collaborate with him one day.

“I feel very fantastic, very amazing and very proud of myself.”
He credited his aunt Danielle Hector for his smooth performance and stage presence.


"Excitement at Junior Soca Monarch finals"

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