Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 17th 2014 Contents A39
Saturday, May 17, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Machel Montano was born in
Trinidad, attended school in
Jamaica and spent much of his life
travelling around the Caribbean
working with producers, other
musicians and singers and enter-
taining the masses.
His life as the quintessential
Caribbean man was the backdrop
against which he preached the gospel
of Caribbean unity to a group of
West Indian students earlier this
month. Montano was the keynote
speaker at the Florida Association
of Caribbean Students (FACS) 40th
Conference on Leadership at Miami
Dade College, North campus, Flori-
"Now is the time to unite and
speak to the world. In numbers we
are a greater force," he said, urging
the students, many of whom showed
up to the event with the various flags
of their countries.
In an impassioned speech punc-
tuated with singing, dancing and a
brief roll call of the islands repre-
sented, Montano stressed we are all
one and that the future of the
Caribbean is in sharing music and
technology but more importantly
"We must do away with the atti-
tude, as we unite, of the individual,
king of the rock. I think of a unified
bloc pooling resources and promot-
ing the unique USWI, the United
States of the West Indies. Remember
Caricom has failed but we have
music, art, the computer, social
media...," he said, invoking squeals
as he urged the students to follow
him on Instagram.
Montano said he began promoting
regional unity early on in his career
when he decided to promote calypso
and soca over the foreign genres pre-
ferred by his generation.
When he chose to do soca, he
developed a treaty in his mind to
make it attractive to the younger
audiences by incorporating the pop-
ular music such as dancehall into it.
"I started to mix it with reggae...
Beenie Man, General Degree, TOK,
Shaggy, Red Rat...in the beginning
I was ridiculed...what yuh bringing
Jamaica in for?"
Revealing to the audience that he
was dead for the first six minutes
of his life, Montano, 39, said he pulls
strength in low moments from
knowing he had to struggle from the
very beginning to survive.
"It says to me I have a purpose,"
"If you find your purpose half
your job is done. When you do find
your purpose you have to own it."
Montano said once he knew his
purpose laid in making soca popular
and using his music to unite the
Caribbean, he was determined to
"I am not the best dancer, I am
not the best singer, I am not the best
musician but I have a good education
and was smart. I knew how to put
enough together and use the purpose
and philosophy of unity and make
something great," he said.
Stating that every time he wanted
to be great, he returned to spirituality,
which keeps him grounded.
"To be spiritual is to know yourself
and to know that voice yourself and
lead with that," he said, noting that
leading sometimes means fighting
"I had to fight for better dressing
rooms, screens on every stage, for
young people voices to be heard and
respected, for higher wages," he
Leadership, he said, also means
leading into the unknown and he
had to innovate and change in order
to deliver a better quality sound.
That is how he turned into the first
High Definition (HD) human, he
said, as he sought to transmit his
messages in a clearer voice.
Speaking on the topic of success,
Montano said one yardstick he uses
to measure success is the number
of people he has made successful
such as fellow vocalists Patrice
Roberts and Farmer Nappy.
"We are here on this earth for rela-
tionships, to communicate...we are
here for individual reasons within
yourself but none of those purposes
would be executed if you don t have
relationships, if you don t share with
other people, share ideas, share
dreams, share stories."
Montano ended his speech with
words of advice to the students,
among them that they should criticise
less and compliment more, that they
should try to be great thinkers, skilful
managers, be humble, noble and be
inspirational leaders with vision, com-
passion and integrity.
"We are one by history, blood,
sweat, tears. I want you to nurture
this home, manage this Caribbean
with good fathers and good mothers,"
he said. Montano ended his address
with an impromptu performance of
his song, Happiest Man Alive.
Machel urges Caribbean unity
Soca star Machel Montano passionately called on the Caribbean students
to embrace Caribbean unity. PHOTOS COURTESY XTATIK LTD
Part of the appreciative audience who turned up to hear Machel Montano
at the Florida Association of Caribbean Students (FACS) 40th Conference
on Leadership at Miami Dade College, North campus, Florida.
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