Surprise Entry Montano & Young King Teja in Calypso Monarch Semis

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By Sherlan Ramsubhag

Five time international Soca Monarch Machel Montano is among the 40 semi-finalists competing for this year’s Calypso Monarch title.

Despite his numerous victories in Carnival, including two Groovy Soca titles and ten Road March wins, Montano has yet to secure the Calypso Monarch crown.

He, however, surprised fans by releasing “Soul of Calypso” last week and performing it at the Divas Calypso Cabaret.

2024 Young King Mical “Mical Teja” Williams, whose song “DNA” is considered an early frontrunner for the Road March title, has also qualified for the semi-final.

Winston “Gypsy” Peters, chairman of the National Carnival Commission, is also among the listed contestants. He is carded to perform “Ungrateful.”

Notably absent from the Skinner Park stage this year is Chalkdust (Hollis Liverpool), the Calypso Monarch with the most titles, who decided not to participate in the competition after the loss of his wife.

Treasurer of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO), Judy Benicourt, announced the list of semi-finalists at the Calypso Tent at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Sunday.

When asked about Montano’s participation in the competition, TUCO’s President, Ainsley King, assured that, while he acknowledges Montano’s brand as a powerful one, from his position as TUCO’s president, Montano is just another contestant competing in the event.

“When asked about soca artistes entering the competition, King underscored that there is a misconception that calypso music and soca were different and said that they were not.

He emphasised that it was all one art form that is reflective of the identity of a people who would have come to the shores of Trinidad and Tobago via the Atlantic slave trade.

TUCO’s president also revealed that this year’s competition saw an increase in competitors registering for the Calypso Monarch 2024, he said this year 212 people registered while last year 197 people registered.

King also revealed that this year’s competition will take on a one-song format.

“The one song gives opportunity for more people to get a chance in the competition. The two songs (format) will actually consume time so we have decided that to give more people a chance to make the finals or to be a part of the event,” King said.

This year’s prize structure is $500,000 and a motor vehicle valued at $300,000 for first place, $350,000 for second place, $250,000 for third place, $175,000 for fourth and $45,000 each for fifth to twelfth places.

The Express spoke with semi-finalist Victoria Cooper-Rahim, sobriquet Queen Victoria, yesterday who said that she was overjoyed to be able to move on to the next round of the competition.

Noting that she transitioned from political to social commentary, she explained that the global social issues impacting countries had captured her attention, prompting the change.

With 24 years of participating in the Calypso Monarch competition, she expressed her desire to win the title this year. However, she emphasised that her primary focus is on delivering a message, not only to Trinidad but to the world.

Rivaldo London, the 2019 Junior Calypso Monarch, one of the younger semi-finalists, said this is his third competition at age 22, and that he was fairly confident in his ability to make it to the finals.

He told the Express yesterday that he thought the competition so far to be a stiff one and with the group of semi-finalists that were announced yesterday he expected that it would get more stiff.

A humble London said his song was about those hardships that the common man endured every day, he said that he does not see himself as a voice for the voiceless but someone who can bring people together to fight for the justice that citizens deserve.

The semi-final is carded for February 3, and will be held in Skinner Park in San Fernando.

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