There are 12 first-time entrants among the 22 singers vying for the Carib Soca Monarch title and first prize of $1.5 million, among them a former local top model and a winner in the 2009 Guyana Music Festival.
It was also announced, at the launch of the competition yesterday, that ANSA McAl had devised a means of getting the public more involved with the addition of the ‘People’s Choice Awards’.
This would allow fans to vote online and by text messages for their favourites. The singer with the highest votes will win a special award. Further details will be publicized later.
Ansa McAl Public Relations Officer Darshanie Yussuf said the competition had received 33 entries, but 22 were shortlisted based on lyrics, melody, rendition, diction and musical arrangement/party appeal.
The quarter final competition, billed for the Mackenzie Sports Complex, Linden on February 2, will see the first elimination of five contestants. Another five will be eliminated at the semi final, billed for the Area ‘H’ Ground, Rose Hall, Corentyne, Berbice on February 9.
The remaining 12 contestants will come up against 2012 Soca Monarch Jumo Primo at the National Park on February 16. Primo was not present at yesterday’s launch as he is out of the country at present.
Ansa McAl Sales and Marketing Director Troy Cadogan noted that this year’s competitors had benefited from a workshop hosted by the company late last year, to help develop and raise the standard of Soca music. He said Soca music is the lifeblood of festivals in the Caribbean and it is his hope that with this new initiative more Guyanese music would be played on Mash day.
He added that there was one non-Guyanese in this year’s competition: Barbadian Kirk Browne.
Stabroek News spoke with some of the first-time contestants yesterday about their expectations. Yolanda Kerr, 2009’s Guyana Model Search winner said she wanted to venture into something new. She was elated to have made it to the quarter final and said she was confident of going further, since she was very competitive.
She revealed that it was not until she entered the competition that her family was made aware of her singing and they are excited that she has entered the competition. Her song “Is We Festival” was written by music producer Bonny Alves. She said it speaks to Guyanese keeping Mashramani alive.
Ernesta Nelson, who won first prize in the Duet Category of the Guyana Festival of Music Arts in 2009 and 2011 and was a finalist in last year’s GT&T Jingle and Song Competition, said it was her dream to be the Soca Monarch.
Nelson, who was also a Junior Calypso Monarch, said she backed away from the competition for several years to give herself time to grow in music.
Nelson said it would be an honour, a challenge and an inspiration to compete against Jumo. Her song is called “Twirl” and she said, “it is all about party even if you’re doing it in the dark; it’s about twirling and gyrating.”
Colbert Dublin, singing as ‘Magga Man’, said he felt great about being in the competition and making it thus far. Asked about his song “Shaking it”, he said “I just love to see the sexy ladies shaking; whether is at a party or a club”.
He said he expected to have a great time at the final.
Shondel London, singing as ‘Sugar’ said that entering the competition she was shy but is ecstatic to have made the shortlist and hopes to go all the way to the final. Although she confessed that she is a little nervous, her song “Hard Wuk” is all about letting go after working hard “Persons sometimes stress from work and all they need is to party and have fun,” she said.
James Gordon, whose singing name is ‘Boss Stevens’, said that his song “Soca Mascara”, was written based on masquerading in Guyana. He said that many of the acoustic sounds come from the masquerade whistling and drumming.
He is also a current participant in the calypso competition and is quite pleased and surprised to have been selected for the Soca quarter final. He said he would work as hard as possible to win and plans, on the day of the competition, to perform with a guitar.
This is the ninth time Ansa Mc Al will be hosting the Soca competition.