A report by Laura Dowrich-Phillips fro Loop Jamaica.
Soca no longer belongs to Trinidad and Tobago.
That was the declaration of Machel Montano as he advocated for Trinbagonians to share the art form they invented to the world.
A long-time advocate for regional unity through music, Montano said soca is the sound of the Caribbean.
“Soca is based on unity. African and Indian together. It have a Chinese element that came in, it have a Syrian element that came in and it have a Dougla element. It is the greatest of all time for Caribbean music, it is the greatest of all time for island music only because we are converging on each other organically. It is not being done on purpose, it is happening and we are part of the happening,” he said.
“The purpose of this has to be service to humanity. It is the highest purpose any of our talents has to be used for and I feel it is time for us to offer soca music to the universe. Let’s see what it will do, let’s see what it will contribute. I am sure it will contribute what it is which is unity. I see it in the steelpan, I see it in the chutney, I see it in the limbo,” he added.
Montano, who this year has been working with songwriters and singers from all over the Caribbean including Kassav, Ding Dong from Jamaica, Skinny Fabulous from St Vincent and Motto from St Lucia, said he embraces all the various musical forms from around the region.
“I want to say come, bring yuh ting…Soca music no longer belongs to Trinidad and Tobago, we need to let go of those chains, we need to free it, we need to release it. We have to identify with something bigger than we used to, we have to identify with the world and give ourselves,” he said, noting that Machel Monday is about that.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday to announce his collaboration with Cuban artist Cimafunk who will perform at Machel Monday, Montano said he wanted to include the Latin component for Machel Monday to complete the expression.
The collaboration was initiated by the Cuban Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago who approached Montano to forge cultural ties between the two islands.
In his address, Alex Gonzalez Garcia, Charge d’Affaires of the Cuban Embassy said they saw in Montano and Cimafunk, the same pride in being Caribbean and the same dream of Caribbean integration.
“We believe there is no more powerful way to make bonds than through culture and through music,” he said.
He said Montano will start a new era in their cultural cooperation as more artistes will follow in his footsteps.
Machel Monday will take place on February 25 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.