How did Machel Montano make it to the Calypso Monarch Semi-Finals 2024?

Let's clear the air first: We love Machel Montano and still consider him the "King of Soca." He is just an awesome creative talent, and we both share the same birth date, 11/24. This post is not meant to demean or create problems for the artist, but it is a post with a question that had to be asked.

Machel Montano is a Soca superstar who has won numerous awards and accolades for his music. He is the "King of Soca" but took time off from Soca to fulfill his study goals. Then, just like that, he surprised everyone by entering the Calypso Monarch competition, one of the most prestigious and traditional events of the Carnival season.

Calypso is a genre of music that originated in Trinidad and Tobago and is known for its witty, satirical, and social commentary lyrics. The Calypso Monarch competition is hosted by the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation (TUCO) and features the best calypsonians in the country vying for the coveted title and prize. So how did the King of Soca end up in the Calypso Monarch competition?

To qualify for the competition, calypsonians usually have to perform at a Calypso Tent, which is a venue where calypso shows are held during the Carnival season. They must also register with TUCO and submit their songs before the deadline. However, Machel Montano needed to follow these rules. He did not perform at any Calypso Tent, and he released his song, “Soul of Calypso”, only four days ago (January 24) and was selected to participate in the semis. 

So how did he manage to get into the semi-finals when others sang to qualify but were not selected. Somehow a special exemption by the executive committee of TUCO enabled Machel's selection. How else could this happen? Someone at TUCO (more than likely the President) made the decision to allow Machel to compete knowing that he would add great value to the competition. The people love Machel and his contributions to Soca always lead to sold-out venues. Then again, Montano’s song is a tribute to the history and legacy of Calypso and, to be honest, is a really good song. This, in the end, must have been a business decision.

Montano’s exemption was not unprecedented, as other calypsonians, such as David Rudder and Black Stalin, had also been allowed to enter the competition without performing at a Calypso Tent in the past. One can assume that TUCO’s main objective was to promote and preserve calypso and that Montano’s entry was in line with that goal. Or, it may be just a financially smart decision. Regardless, some will be unhappy but the fans will celebrate his presence.

The gnashing of teeth is a telltale sign of discontent and disagreement.  Some calypsonians and fans felt that it was unfair and disrespectful to the other competitors who had followed the rules and worked hard to prepare their songs. They argued that Montano had an unfair advantage, as he had more resources, popularity, and media exposure than the other calypsonians. They also questioned the quality and originality of Montano’s song, which they claimed was not a true Calypso, but a Soca song with Calypso elements.

Machel started his career singing Calypso but became famous through his endeavors in the business of Soca; this will bring him full circle, back to where he started. Machel is not entering this competition just to pump interest in this competition. He is competitive by nature and he has s damn good song! Sokah2Soca thinks that he entered because he thinks he can win it all. Wouldn't it be awesome to come back after all these years and win the Calypso Monarch title? We think so!

Montano performed his song at the Divas Calypso Cabaret at the Little Carib Theatre in Woodbrook on Thursday night, where he received a warm and enthusiastic response from the audience. He will now compete at the Calypso Fiesta, the semi-final round of the competition, scheduled to take place at Skinner Park, San Fernando, on February 3, 2024.

Will Montano make it to the finals and win the Calypso Monarch title? Or will he be defeated by the seasoned and talented Calypsonians who have been honing their skills for years? Whatever the outcome, Montano’s entry has certainly stirred up some controversy and excitement in the Calypso arena. Something good has happened here; a conundrum of sorts, but it has sparked a debate on the definition and evolution of Calypso in the modern era. 

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Production Notes/Music Credits:
Song Title: Soul of Calypso
Artist: Machel Montano
Lyrics by: Machel Montano
Produced by: Machel Montano & Michael “Tano" Montano 
Machel Montano recorded by: Tano
Cuatro & Additional instrumentation: Joshua “Supayouth“ Salcedo 
Trumpet/Flugel: Chris Sam
Trombone: Justin Phillip 
Saxophones/Clarinet: Daniel Ryan
Live bass: Joshua Richardson
African drum: Sheena "Ajibola" Richardson
Electric Guitar & Ukelele: Ian “Hoggit” Alleyne, recorded by: Scott Galt @ De Red Boyz
Background Vocals: Keone Osbourne
Mixed by: Kevin Beharry of System 32 
Mastered by: Keron “Scratch Master” Hector
Artwork by: Jus Bus & Ellen Animates
Origin: Trinidad, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Genre: Calypso

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