T&T needs a Bob Marley, says Machel Montano

(Jamaica Observer) Trinidadian soca star Machel Montano is a man on a mission. Having moved on from recent legal wranglings where he escaped a prison sentence for assault, he is making moves to take soca to the world.

“For the past five years I have been much more focused trying to build something aimed at taking the music of T&T to the world,” he told Splash.

“I have been working with a number of international artistes and producers including Ladysmith Black Mambazo out of South Africa, (hip-hop act) Pitbull, and (American producer) Major Lazer as well as reggae/dancehall artistes such as Shaggy trying to bridge that gap and find the right purpose for our music.”

Machel Montano
Machel Montano

The 38-year-old singer is currently on the island for Pandemonium, a show and party set for the Golf Academy in New Kingston tonight alongside Shaggy, Superblue, Patrice Roberts, and Farmer Nappy.

But what does it take for soca to make it on the world stage, Splash asked Montano.

“T&T needs a Bob Marley. Not just in terms of the music but someone who can bring focus and inspiration. We need to create something to get the attention of the world.”

Montano says for the first time in his 30-year career, he is in a comfortable place. He believes he has the conviction and experience to take the ‘Trini’ sound to a global market.

He has flirted with major record labels having been signed to Atlantic and Capitol Records, but neither was able to take him and soca to that higher plain.

He explains: “It has always been that catch-22 situation… How do I satisfy my core soca market at home and in the diaspora, yet appeal to these new markets? That has been the challenge. The answer lies in carefully dividing my time. Giving the right percentage of my time to develop the international links while staying relevant and successful to fans at home.”

Montano feels he finally has the right formula.

“The time is right. I am exploring all the international contacts, yet remaining true to home. The world is converging right now and I am always inspired by progress.”

And what of the current crop of soca singers? “All of the top acts right now — Destra, Bunji and Fay-Ann, Kes — they are all doing what it takes in terms of production and writing to appeal to the international set,” he said.

“What we need is a general focus on what the music must sound like to reach this market, we have to find that music that touches the soul but is expressed in the limbs.”

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