Newcomers sizzling at this year’s Carib Soca Monarch

The Carib Soca Monarch 2018 top four finalists (from left) Brandon Harding; Melisa “Vanilla” Roberts; Diana Chapman and Colwyn Blair (Adrian Narine photo)

OF the 17 persons taking to the stage this Saturday in Linden for the Carib Soca Monarch Semi-finals, a whopping 10 of them are newcomers, but that in no way means that the other seasoned Soca performers in the competition are going to be having it easy.

Coordinator of the competition, Nigel Worrell says newcomer or not, the competition is tough this year, and the win could go to just about anyone, and he wouldn’t even be that surprised if that someone is a newcomer.

“It could very well be a new winner this year, and it might not necessarily be one of the veterans because all of the newcomers have pretty good songs and could upstage the so called ‘big boys’,” Worrell told The Buzz.

Worrell says the singers have really pulled out the big guns for this one this year, adding “this is probably one of the best years in the competition in terms of the music. This year’s competition is expected to be a lot more exciting.”

This year’s Soca monarch has seen a healthy increase of entries compared to last year, and defending champion, Brandon Harding, will have to pull out all the stops if he’s looking to pull off a back-to-back win.
Harding say he’s looking forward to the competition.

“I am not taking anyone lightly. This is a competition and I thrive on competition. I know I am up against the likes of Jumo and Vanilla and Nesta, and there are some really good songs and good talent who are in it to win it, however the only person who will beat Brandon is Brandon. I am the problem and the problem is me for Soca Monarch 2019,” Harding notifies.

Last year’s Soca finals featured some 10 artistes, but this year the war will be on between 15 persons. As defending champion Harding gets automatic entry into the finals, while the top 14 performers from this weekend’s semi-finals will move on to the finals, which is set for Durban Park on February 16.

The semi-finals was initially set to be between some 20 competitors, however last year’s third place finisher Diana Chapman pulled out of the competition, along with widely known Marlon Simon, best known by his stage name `Blaze Antonio’.

Also taking a premature exit is Jonathan “Lil Red” King. As usual the competitors will be judged based on diction, lyrics, stage performance, and crowd response.
With a $1.5 million top prize, the competitors have quite the motivation to hunt down that win. Second place, however, will walk away with a nice $750,000, while there’s a $500,000 for third and $250,000 for fourth. There’s also the $100,000 `Best New Comer’ prize going to the top novice.

Last year’s best newcomer, Colwin Blair, who had finished fourth, is back this year performing his song called “Powder and Water”.

Newbies Shaima “Sexy Berry” Muna and Euclid “Uclef” Samuels have been hard at work promoting themselves on social media and on the radios. Muna is coming through with “Nah Tiyad Yet”, while Samuels is paying homage to the national flag with his “Arrow Head Stand Tall” song.

“I Come to Badder Bamba” from Quincy Boyce, has a catchy beat that you know you’re going to want to be jamming to come February 23, when you’re down the road in the Mashramani Costume and Float Parade.

Boyce, who is going by the stage name “True”, warns that when he touches down in Linden this weekend no “bam bam” will be safe.
“I have to do what the song says to do, so Saturday in Linden, I’m going to bother, bother all the bumpers, nah hold back,” Boyce says.
“I’m going out there to put out my best, God knows it, and my fans know it too, and my song is a really vibing song.”

Another song one to watch is “Ah Feeling de Vibez” from Stephen Ramphal. Though it’s his first year entering the Carib Soca Monarch competition, Ramphal is no newcomer to singing soca. He’s also a chutney veteran and is in the running for the crown in the Chutney Song Competition.

Twenty-two-year-old Melissa Pestano, with the stage name “Ms. Finesse”, is enjoying her experience as a first-time Carib Soca Monarch contestant.
“It has been a very excited experience for me and I’m enjoying myself a lot, and I just want to let everyone know I will be bringing a lot to the stage. Not only will I be singing but I will be performing a dance too, there’s a lot that persons can expect from me when it comes to entertainment,” she shared.

Aside from the newcomers, three time Carib Soca Monarch champion, Jumo “Rubber waist” Primo, has a solid entry with his song “Tribute”, another Mashramani anthem.
There’s also last year’s third place finisher, Melissa “Vanilla” Roberts, who is hoping to finish with the win this year. Her entry “One Voice” is another patriotic number.