by Desi Brown
Recently, Soca lovers have been disgruntled by new major decisions made by the International Soca Monarch organisers, decisions that many believe make up a recipe of cultural disaster. I share very similar feelings being an avid Soca lover myself and can’t help but speculate what the real problems may be.
In an official publication by 96.1 WEFM it was revealed that:
- Power Soca Monarch and Groovy Soca Monarch are no longer two separate categories in the 2016 International Soca Monarch (ISM),
- The competition will no longer be televised LIVE as in previous years.
- Results will be released on Saturday night, (following the Fantastic Friday show) when a television package will be aired. Subsequently, the sealed results will be announced by auditors.
In the same order, here’s what I think:
- TTRN, Director of the International Soca Monarch, Mr. Peter Scoon told 96.1 WEFM:
“The Power Soca Monarch has always been viewed as the Father of the Groovy Soca but today, Groovy has come of age having developed enormously throughout the years. He believes the separation has negatively affected the show in an effort to package it as a television product, adding there were too many gaps and that did not resound well with the pay-per view broadcast.”
Maybe someone should explain, exactly how does the explosion of a subset of the same genre equate to a merger? We are talking about directly intervening in what may have become a cultural norm for Caribbean people. Soca isn’t just Soca. Soca is Power Soca and Groovy Soca just as our minds and hearts don’t agree with this decision, our waistlines won’t either. Removing these labels also create a problem with judging as you can’t possibly judge subsets of the same genre the same way. Groovy Soca’s criteria has an emphasis on its musical components whereas Power Soca’s criteria places a direct emphasis on performance. They obviously both require different presentation strategies. It is really a matter of preference, not just by the patrons but by the Soca Artistes themselves. So tell us, how do you intend on separating the better musicians from the extraordinary performers? Perhaps devising a plan to improve the production of this show may actually assist in reducing these gaps towards bolstering confidence in our small islands’ capabilities.
- So you are telling us that you are fixing a problem for TV or rather pay-per view broadcasts but decide never to air it LIVE? We are not clear on something here. Mr Scoon may want to address this concern, especially considering that “The wider vision of the Foundation is to develop a template for Pay-Per–View on a global scale and merchandising the International Soca Monarch Competition.” Please let us know if this vision has since changed because this decision may very well suggest that you are taking a few steps back in promoting Soca music on the world stage. This cannot be good for our recent achievements in the region. Also, why can’t I share in the experience at the same time as my Soca warriors? We can’t all make it to Trinidad now, come on!
- We already think that most of the previous decisions taken are very fishy. Do you really want to give Caribbean people an opportunity to say that you have cheated? Perhaps postponing the results until the show is aired may not be a very good idea either.
The major questions query the willingness to promote and preserve Caribbean culture and creative arts on and for the world stage. Removing LIVE television broadcasts naturally reduces the exposure of the show and our culture at large while, merging the Power and Groovy Soca competitions presents a problem in maintaining interests both from the artistes and patrons. The latter also shatters any possible curiosity into the historical significance of the genre’s subsets and evolution. International Soca Monarch may very well be setting a very bad example for other participating countries to follow. Thankfully, we can still vote for two finalists to participate in The Soca Monarch competition. All is not lost!