New International Soca Monarch is a Recipe of Cultural Disaster 

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:

  1. Power Soca Monarch and Groovy Soca Monarch are no longer two separate categories in the 2016 International Soca Monarch (ISM),
  2. The competition will no longer be televised LIVE as in previous years.
  3. 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:

  1.  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. 

  1. 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!
  1. 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! 

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T.I. Wrongfully Used Image from Trinidad Photographer

Would you believe that American Hip Hop artiste, Clifford Harris Joseph Jr. a.k.a T.I. is hosting a Carnival themed party. However, he isn’t doing it without stepping on somebody’s toes. Trinidadian photographer Laura Ferreira had to plead with T.I to give her the recognition she deserves for wrongfully using an image taken by her of model wearing a 2013 Tribe Carnival costume called Acara Acraea designed by Anya Ayoung-Chee.

Ferreira is claiming that T.I. and his team who used the photo on his party invitation removed her watermark this resulted in a social media squabble between the two parties that didn’t go unoticed.

Ferriera shared the image on Instagram stating: “Erm, people, I have every right to ask for credit for my work, no matter where or how it is used. If I used his music in a non-profit vlog, it’d be flagged and removed, or monetized by his label.”

She also took to her Facebook page, Laura Ferriera Studios sharing:

“T.I. is using one of my images for his birthday invitation, on his Instagram account (it’s now on his Facebook page, too). Would love to have a credit for myself as well as the costume designer, Anya Ayoung-Chee. Seriously, whoever designed this knew they didn’t have the right to use it. Removing my name from the image doesn’t magically make it right. I would have been thrilled to let it out to such a huge audience, if I were contacted in the first place,” She then asked persons to comment on the photo and tell the Hip Hop sensation to “GIVE CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE”. So said, so done.

In response, T.I trivialized the wrongful use and claimed that he was simply paying respect to Ferreira.

“Obviously & commendably @lauraferreirastudios had the best & most impressively appropriate images that relate to the theme of the party,which lead to the planners using the images. Which in itself is them paying homage to your work. Let’s be clear guys. ITS A PARTY INVITE!!!!! Not album or even single artwork, not tee shirts we plan to sell, not framed & sold for our benefit…ITS A PARTY INVITATION GUYS!!!! I’ve seen world famous photos of worldly iconic figures used to invite people to parties all the time & with the photographs photoshopped & altered which takes away from the integrity of the art.”

Ferreira replied that credit meant she should be mentioned and not simply have the photograph posted.

“But paying homage means crediting the artist, and that’s all I was asking for. I’m sure you’d want people to credit you for your music. We put a lot of work into our craft, be it visual or musical.”

T.I. would never wrongfully use any of his counterparts’ photos. It is indeed commendable that this Caribbean artist stood up for her work and many others joined in to rally behind her. It is time that Caribbean artists are respected. This is a step in the right direction.

#CaribbeanKulcha Faces

The way we look at our African heritage, European parenthood and now our explosive contemporary #CaribbeanKulcha through the faces of our people. Not your usual showcase but a truly artistic presentation of how we became by displaying the depth of the contrast between the two most influential groups of people that preceded us today. These images highlight some of the depth that Kulcha Blog​ will attempt to cover.  This creative ensemble hails from the twin island Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis.

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African Descent – Culture Cultivated 
The Europeans ploughed Mother Africa’s land of its people and planted them in the Caribbean Region.
Imperial Colonialism – Culture Contained 
Africans were displaced and restrained from executing traditional practices, so were the unfamiliar Planter class.
The Diaspora – Caribbean Soft Power 
In adapting to change, both groups wereforced to create new cultural practices; what is now believed to be a unique melting pot of cultures with common heritage and strong connections realising potential to influence.
Executive Creative Director: Desi Brown
Creative Director: Diego Spanner
Photography: Blue Torch Productions
Face Painting: Dazzle Me Face and Body Painting
MUA: Beauty Box SKN

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