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A video of a child growing
up in the San Juan community
plays on a screen. Romanesque
columns line either side of a
well-lit stage and dancers can be
seen peeking out from behind.
A translucent screen pops into
place and Aaron St Louis (Voice),
the now two-time Soca Monarch
champion appears on stage, roy-
al in a purple and gold jacket.
The music starts. The champion
sings. The music doesn’t sync.
It’s jarring how incompatible the
rhythm is to his voice. The crowd
notices. He does too. Before long,
the lights cut and Voice exits the
After 2o well-executed musical
performances on stage at the Hasely
Crawford Stadium for the Interna-
tional Soca Monarch competition
on Fantastic Friday, the only error
occurs before the reigning champ.
Everyone notices and can feel the
tension ripe and rippling over the
The crowd starts chanting his
name. The host, an empathetic Jason
Williams, comes on with a brief ex-
planation and words of encourage-
ment, then follows up announcing
the artiste for the second time.
It was scripted by intervention,
either divine or man-made.
Voice was, in every essence of the
phrase which is the title of his win-
ning track, Far from Finished.
Far from finished
The performance which followed
was a tightly produced, confident
serenade of the masses as he stressed
on his mission of singing about pos-
itivity in a space focused on wine
Voice gave a performance deserv-
ing of a Soca Monarch title despite
fierce competition from the well-
loved Iwer George, the crooning
Orlando Octave, and the legacies
of Terri Lyons and Nailah Blackman.
In an interview published online
from his home, the young soca ar-
tiste who won the competition dur-
ing his first finals appearance in 2016
gave thanks to God and to T&T for
He spoke about the emotions
which bombarded him after the
technical glitch in his first attempt.
“I realised I was singing and
wasn’t hearing myself. I thought
they had miss the timing. I thought
it was the mic. I reach the chorus
and the beat didn’t come in. When I
look to the side one of the guys from
Roy Cape said to come off the stage.”
He said he was told something was
wrong with a piece of equipment,
but pointed out that it was the only
major glitch for the night after 20
“I wasn’t feeling good. There were
tears. I broke down. You work so hard
and you want to achieve something
and this one thing come in the way. I
felt like I disappointed a lot of people
because the expectations were high
and at that point in time I felt there
was nothing I could do but cry.”
The singer’s parents who were on
hand to hear his victory announced
were also emotional, telling the me-
dia about how disappointed their
son was, even as he sang the words
of advice from his father: “What is
for you is for you.”
Crowd favours Iwer
Voice was followed by Orlan-
do Octave in second place; Devon
Matthews in third; and Neil “Iwer”
George in position number four.
The dwindling crowd waiting for
the results were quick to express
George had, in typical fashion,
received the most overwhelming
response, with jumping, waving,
hands splayed in the air, and singing
from the crowd for the night.
But for the judges, who look at
criteria other than crowd response,
such as lyrics, it wasn’t enough.
Instead, Matthews, with a pow-
erful performance of his Ella Andall
collaboration called D Journey edged
him out of third place.
In an interview yesterday, Mat-
thews said this particular win felt
especially good to him because of
the high calibre of performances
during the night. It is the highest
he has placed in the finals after three
times participating. It also comes
off of his third place in the Young
He dedicated the victory to his fa-
ther who passed away last year. He
said every year for Soca Monarch his
father was present.
“This year, he wasn’t there, but
now I believe in angels.”
Octave, who used his performance
to spread a message about protect-
ing T&T’s women, said he felt good
about placing second, but felt even
better that he had gotten the oppor-
tunity to speak to the large crowd
about gender-based violence.
Show goes back to basics
After making changes to the show
last year, this year, the hosts Car-
ibbean Prestige Foundation made
several reversals including a live
broadcast and the results given on
the same day.
The tightly produced show of
2016 saw several delays this year,
starting half-hour late and finish-
ing around 5 am.
Antiguan soca songstress Tizzy
opened the main show followed by a
performance from Nailah Blackman,
who performed hours after attend-
ing her grandmother’s funeral. One
key moment was when the young
singer changed her vocal range
from the high-pitched screams re-
quired of the song to a more soulful
Kees made a second appearance
with another artiste with a famous
legacy, Kernal Roberts, son of Al-
dwyn Roberts, Lord Kitchener.
Terri Lyons, who had a perfor-
mance where her father awkward-
ly crawled on stage with a lion
costume, was well received by the
...Orlando Octave places 2nd; Devon Matthews, 3rd;
Iwer, 4th in Soca Monarch finals
Major glitch as Voice performs
Devon Matthews came
in third on the night.
PHOTOS: KERWIN PIERRE
Second place winner,
performing his hit Single.
A soca fan reacts as
reigning Soca Monarch
Aaron ‘Voice’ St Louis
arrives on stage during
the finals of the
Monarch, at Hasely
Port-of-Spain, on Friday.
1st place— Voice
2nd place—Orlando Octave
3rd place—Devon Matthews
4th place—Neil Iwer George
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