It’s hard to believe that the name Noel “Dancemaster” Stevens is still not a household word.
Believe it or not, those familiar with the Jamaican performer regard him as the trailblazing Yardie who has been promoting soca music for longer than most.
As a matter of fact, in addition to being a renowned master on the dancefloor, Stevens is also widely acclaimed Jamaica’s ambassador of soca.
Two decades ago, he might have been regarded as a novelty act.
Afterall, few Jamaicans actually dedicate the largest chunk of their musical pursuit to singing and dancing to the beat of any other genre than reggae, the island’s national music.
But from the last century until this 21st, Dancemaster has been relentlessly honing and refining his career singing and dancing, to the music associated with the Eastern Caribbean.
Through it all he has always boasted his birth-island.
However, when he takes the microphone to voice lyrics he often pens, it is calypso/soca that echoes.
He recently released “Dem Nuh Know ‘Bout Me,” an infectious dance track which lists some of the places he is still unknown.
“My God, dem nuh know ‘bout me, dem nuh know bout me… in Switzerland, Japan, Korea, Venezuela, Trinidad, Guyana, Nigeria, Zimbabwe… from the time dem hear soca start… can’t jump and wine like me… mi nuh know why dem wining so… my God dem nuh know bout me… none ah dem nuh know bout me…”
Arranged to a familiar Jamaican folk song Louise Bennett recorded about “Gungoo Walk,” the catchy track adds to a repertoire that has made him a sought-after performer who injects fun to each and every performance.
A few years ago, Dancemaster released a song in tribute to Usain Bolt’s Olympic victories.
At a function for the Jamaica Progressive League, he donned athletic gear, handed out Jamaican handkerchiefs and flags and like the fastest man in the world, raced around a Bronx ballroom singing in tribute to the champion.
The patrons attending the fundraiser cheered his patriotic exercise.
Perhaps his most revered showcase, he repeated the track race in Brooklyn when Everybody’s Magazine opened a calypso tent at The Utica Ave. located Tropical Paradise.
Dancemaster is good at paying tributes.
He has also paid into the legacy of Michael Jackson performing in tribute to the king of pop soon after he died in 2009.
And while those two memorable appearances won accolades, it is his “In The Center” party-track that is most requested wherever he is billed.
Another favorite listed “Sugar Cane” to his growing soca, discography.
Based in Brooklyn, Dancemaster is also a licensed electrical engineer.
That skilled ability proved handy when he decided to build his own recording studio. Fully wired and operable, he now broadcasts from a radio station he constructed to air The Money Train, a show he produces and hosts on WVIP 93.5 FM.
The show airs on Sunday from 4 pm to 6 pm and Wednesdays 9 pm to 11 pm.
Added to that he is known as the Juiceman, a proponent of healthy juicing habits using fruits, vegetables and a special protein powder.
On any given day, from a Nostrand Ave. location, the choreographer, dancer, singer, electrician and songwriter blends smoothies and other healthy concoctions that evidently keeps him fit and spry for his energetic soca sessions.
Probably among the hardest working Caribbean men in show business, Dancemaster maintains the reputation of being the only Jamaican to qualify to the finals in the prestigious International Soca Monarch Competition in Trinidad & Tobago.
This past Labor Day weekend, Dancemaster performed at Rawlston Charles’ annual outdoor Saturday, fete where The Mighty Sparrow, Swallow and KC, the James Brown of Soca entertained thousands along Fulton Street.
The following day, Sunday, he joined Irie Jam revelers in Queens for a 22nd anniversary session that also billed Kymani Marley and Jamaican dancehall sensation Gully Bop.
Jamaicans are getting to know their island’s own soca ambassador.
With continued persistence, soon enough, the Jamaican all-rounder will be singing a brand new repertoire and it will likely not be limited to “Dem Nuh ‘Bout Me.”