Artistes gear up for International Soca Monarch semi-finals

Problem Child intends to bring high energy to the competition.

The International Soca Monarch has announced the semi-finalists for its highly anticipated competition that is held during the Trinidad Carnival season.

The showdown, which culminates with a spectacular finale performance display on ‘Fantastic Friday’ annually, features some of the biggest artistes in soca – so much so that it has long been touted as ‘The Superbowl of Soca Music’.

Coveted spot

This year, the semi-finals will return to the Arima Velodrome, where contestants will vie for a coveted spot in the Power Soca and Groovy Soca categories. In 2019, Mr Killa of Grenada emerged as the Power Soca Monarch, while Trinidad and Tobago’s Swappi snagged the Groovy title.

Mr Killa slaughtered the competition to win the ‘Power Soca Monarch’ crown last year.

After a rigorous preliminary round which saw an increase in soca submissions for 2020, the judges selected 30 semi-finalists for both the Power Soca and Groovy Soca Monarch categories respectively. Some familiar names made the cut for the Power Soca segment – including Devon ‘Lyrikal’ Martin, St Lucia’s Teddyson John, songstress Leonce, Shal Marshall, Blaxx, and St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Problem Child.

Spontaneous performance

Problem Child, whose real name is Johnny Fontainne, spoke exclusively to BUZZ as he prepared for Sunday’s event.

“Someone (another artiste) posted on Instagram and I coincidentally saw my name,” he laughed. Problem Child says that he intends to bring an energetic, spontaneous performance that he hopes will take him to Fantastic Friday – and with the added pressure from his home country, he intends to deliver. “I’m the only Vincentian in the power category, so the entire island it seems like is already sending me messages like ‘you better win’. I laugh because I know that’s their way of wishing me well.”

Trinidad and Tobago’s Swappi snagged the Groovy title in 2019.

The Nasty Up singer said that he’s been feeling the love from his home island, as well as in Trinidad, and he is thankful for the love, support and acceptance.

Second appearance

Mikal Williams, better known by his sobriquet ‘Mical Teja’, is honoured for the opportunity to make his second appearance in the International Soca Monarch competition this year.

“As an artiste, one of the major platforms for young and upcoming artistes to break into the soca market is Soca Monarch. I felt that my songs were strong enough to enter both categories, and I’m thankful that I qualified for the Power Soca group,” he explained to BUZZ.

Mical Teja says the International Soca Monarch opens doors for young talent.

Powerhouse artistes

The singer and songwriter, who has worked with a myriad of powerhouse artistes, including Machel Montano and Nailah Blackman, wants to showcase a memorable performance at semis.

He said: “It means a lot to have this opportunity to compete because I look at it as a gauge for accomplishment. For me, that translates into ‘you’re working, you’re being seen and there is some value in what you’re doing’.”

The parent company for the Soca Monarch competition, Caribbean Prestige Foundation for the Performing Arts, will announce the draw for positions this week where artistes and the general public will find out the performance order for Sunday’s showdown.

Earlier this month, it was announced that soca superstar Fay-Ann Lyons Alvarez had stepped down as chairman of the contest. ISM later announced that she would be replaced by a creative director in the name of Simon Baptiste, known in the regional and international music industry for being one of the management minds behind Kes The Band and curator of the annual Decibel Festival.

Tenille Clarke is an avid wanderlust, Carnivalist and cultural enthusiast who pens about her ongoing love affair with travel, culture and entertainment through a Caribbean lens. She is the Principal Publicist of Chambers Media Solutions and Managing Director of Industry 360. (@tenilleclarke1 on Instagram/Twitter)