Machel Montano crowned 2024 T&T Calypso Monarch

2024 Trinidad and Tobago Calypso Monarch, Machel Montano.
Photo courtesy Caribbean Music Awards

Soca King Machel Montano Sunday night proved that he can not only dominate soca but also calypso after he was crowned the 2024 Trinidad and Tobago Calypso Monarch for “Soul of Calypso” at the Queens Park Savannah in Port-of-Spain, the Trinidad and Tobago capital. Performing at position no. 3, Montano, 49, eclipsed defending monarch Duane Ta’Zayah O’Connor and 10 other contenders on his way to snatching the coveted crown.

He, thus, became the first artist to capture the Young Kings, Road March, Soca and Calypso Monarch in Trinidad and Tobago carnival.

By winning the calypso crown Sunday night, Montano, a 10-time Road March King, took home $500,000 and a $350,000 Suzuki motor vehicle.

Other competitors in the Dimanche Show Sunday night were: Former Calypso Monarchs Karene Asche and Roderick “Chuck” Gordon, who placed second and third, respectively; Mical Teja, fourth; Helon Francis, fifth; Stacey Sobers, sixth; Aaron Duncan, seventh; Kurt Allen, eight; Duane Ta’Zayah O’Connor, ninth; Winston “Gypsy” Peters, 10th; Brian London, 11th; and Dillon “Dilly Suede” Thomas, 12th.

Montano, the six-time Soca Monarch, said he will defend the Calypso Monarch in 2025.

“If you win a title, then you must defend it,” he told reporters after receiving the coveted prizes.

Before performing at the Diva Calypso Cabaret, on Jan. 25, at the Little Carib Theater in Port-of-Spain, Montano noted on social media that “calypso is where I started, and I felt a real joy composing and creating this one (‘Soul of Calypso’), as I thought about the roots of soca and all of the evolving forms of our music that continue to flow from the kaiso fountain.

“Calypso started with Kalinda and Cariso back in the Barrack yards and has evolved to be known around the globe,” he said. “I’m excited to keep exploring and trying my hand at penning more kaisos like this. Stay tuned.”

In his biography, “The Making of Monk Monté,” Montano, who was born on born Nov. 24, 1974 in Port-of-Spain, said he was “destined to be great.”

“Through his ever-evolving musical offerings, Machel works on his mission of depositing soca into the domain of mainstream music,” says the biography, stating that Montano’s career began in 1982 at 11; and, at 9, he formed his band, Pranasonic Express.

The biography says that Montano’s debut album, “Too Young To Soca,” released in 1985, was “an instant hit, which earned rave reviews and standing ovations at live performances.”

In April of 1986, the biography says the young performer appeared on the popular television show, Star Search, bringing soca music to US national television.

The next year, it says Montano captured 2nd place in the Trinidad & Tobago National Song Writer’s Festival with his song, “Dream Girl.”

In 1987, at 12, Montano was the winner of the Caribbean Song Festival that was held in Barbados. He was the first Trinidadian and youngest to ever win this prestigious contest.

The biography says one of Montano’s earliest and greatest achievements was his May, 1984 appearance at Madison Square Garden, in The Felt Forum. in New York City at 9. He was billed as a support act for the Mighty Sparrow and other top calypsonians.

At the 7th Annual Copyright Organization of Trinidad & Tobago (COTT) Awards, the biography says Montano received the awards for Song Writer of the Year 2004/2005 and Song of the Year 2004/2005 for “Madder Than That.”

Also in 2005, he attended the 3rd Annual International Soca Awards in Trinidad and Tobago, receiving awards for: Male Soca Performer of the Year, Soca Song Writer of the Year, Overall Male Soca Performer of the Year, Soca Artiste Album/CD of the Year for “The Xtatik Experience,” Overall Soca Band of the Year; and Soca Video of the Year for “You.”

In 2008, the biography says Montano was awarded the Bob Marley Award Entertainer of the Year 2007, Best Calypso/Soca entertainer 2007, and named the Most Outstanding Stage Personality at the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) at the historic Apollo Theatre in Harlem.

In that year, Montano also received an award at the 1st Annual BET J Virtual Awards for Best Caribbean Artiste of the Year. Other awards were bestowed on Montano in 2008 at the Soca News Awards in the United Kingdom, the biography says.

In January 2010, it says Montano became the first soca artiste to attain a headlining slot at the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival.

At the 2010 Road March Competition, Montano placed 3rd with “No Behaviour”. On May 2, 2010, he made history as the only two-time recipient (2008) of The Bob Marley Award for Entertainer of the Year at Martins International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) in Queens.

After returning to Trinidad and Tobago Carnival in 2011, after being absent in 2010, the biography says Montano captured the Power Soca Monarch Champion 2k11 and the price for best presentation.

The biography says the climax was his victory in the Road March, with “Advantage” being the most played song to cross the stage on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

In May 2011, at the 30th Anniversary of IRAWMA, in Port-of-Spain, Montano secured six awards: Most Outstanding Stage Personality, Best Male Calypso/Soca Entertainer, Best Caribbean Entertainer, Most Outstanding Show Band, Best Soca Band and The King of Soca Award.

In October 2011, the biography says Montano was nominated in the “Best Caribbean Performance” category for the song “Bend Over” at the 2011 Soul Train Awards. Other nominees included Rihanna, Vybz Kartel, Movado and Kes.

In February 2012, the biography says Montano became a “Triple Crown Winner.” At the Super Red 20 International Soca Monarch, he won the Groovy Soca Title with the Anthemic “Mr Fete.” Later that night, he went on to dominate the International Power Soca Monarch with his high-energy power hit “Pump Yuh Flag.” On Carnival Monday and Tuesday 2012, “Pump Yuh Flag” was the most played song on the road (233 times), earning him “Road March glory,” the biography says.

In 2013, Montano was nominated once again for a Soul Train Awards in the category of Best International Performance for his hit “The Fog”. He was also nominated in the first-round ballot of the 56th GRAMMY Awards in two categories.

His 2013 album, “Machelements,” was nominated in the World Music Category for Best Album, and his two videos “Possessed” and “Represent” have been nominated in short file video category, the biography says.

“Carnival 2014 brought Machel Montano continued success having won the coveted Power Soca Monarch title for a fourth time in a row with the hit ‘Ministry of Road’, making him the only artiste to have ever done so,” the biography says.

It says Montano also went on to place 2nd in the Groovy Soca Monarch category with “Happiest Man Alive”, and further proceeded to “take ‘Ministry of Road’ all the way to Road March supremacy.”

During the historic, inaugural Caribbean Music Awards, at Brooklyn’s Kings Theater, in August 2023, Montano received the Lifetime Achievement Award – along with Jamaican reggae crooner Beres Hammond – for his exceptional contribution to the soca/calypso artform.