Carnival 2015 business was neatly tied up yesterday as soca artistes received prizes for the two main soca competitions—the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians (Tuco) Road March competition and the International Soca Monarch competition. The first prize, from Diamond Motors in partnership with Blink/bmobile as well as Vibe CT-105 fm, was distributed to reigning Road March champion Machel Montano. It took place at Queen’s Park Oval, Port-of-Spain.

Montano received his fifth Mitsubishi Lancer, joking that he had the others parked in his yard and that three of them were in great condition. While Montano had previously said he would be withdrawing from competitions, he hinted that this might also apply to the Road March, where the winner was chosen by the people.

Montano, who has joked about returning the following year to get the prize at previous prize-giving ceremonies, said next year might be different. “I wish I could say I would see you again next year but my plans have been changing a lot lately.” Montano said his plan was to contribute music geared toward healing the world.

During his second prize-giving ceremony for the day, as he accepted his $2 million as the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) Power Soca Monarch, Montano said his focus would be on crossing over into the mainstream music industry. As he repeated that this year would be his last as a competitor in the International Soca Monarch competition, Montano was cheerfully heckled by his soca colleagues.

Fellow soca artiste Dexter Stewart (Blaxx) shouted: “Oh yes. Thank you.” Montano smiled and acknowledged the comment before adding that he intended to be a part of the competition, in either an advisory capacity or as part of the audience. “I do not leave with a heavy heart but with an open mind,” Montano said.

To the younger competitors, he advised that they be encouraged to elevate their standards. Less than an hour earlier, the competitors received their appearance fees and prizes at the Digicel Groovy Monarch prize-giving ceremony. Olatunji Yearwood, who won the competition in February, received his cheque for $1 million, while his fellow competitors received their prizes.

Minister of Arts and Multiculturalism Lincoln Douglas encouraged them to continue raising the bar in the soca music industry, promising that his ministry would continue to support diversification through culture.

www.guardian.co.tt