Philly group honors ‘Rolls Royce of Soca’

Philadelphia-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania (SVGOP) on Saturday, Nov. 3 honored Winston Soso, dubbed the “Rolls Royce of Soca,” with the “Vincentian Person of the Year” award at its 17th Annual Gala Dinner and Dance, commemorating the nation’s 33rd anniversary of independence.

Soso, St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ first-ever Soca Monarch, was among two other honorees at the event at Penn’s Landing Caterers on Columbus Blvd.

Also honored were: Dunniston Woods, who received the SVGOP Outstanding Member award and Kylla Herbert, president of the South Jersey Caribbean Cultural and Development Organization, who traces her roots to Nevis and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Herbert, who works closely with SVGOP, received the “Caribbean Person of the Year” award.

Soso’s award follows a similar conferment a week before on St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ calypso maestro, Alston “Becket” Cyrus, renowned as “the ABC of Calypso,” by the Brooklyn-based umbrella Vincentian group in the United States, Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Organizations, U.S.A. Inc. (COSAGO), during its independence gala luncheon in Brooklyn.

“This is great, wonderful,” Soso, a former national goal keeper in football, who represented the nation in that capacity, for five years in the early 1970s, told Caribbean Life.

“I feel honored to be honored,” he added. “When you’re honored, it makes you feel good to do more (for the community).”

Soso, who was honored during carnival celebrations in his homeland earlier this year by perennial “Band of the Year” champions, Nelson Bloc, said, in view of his honor, he invited the Brooklyn-based Vincentian band, Solid, to accompany him to Philadelphia.

“I want to give back by bringing a band here today,” he said.

Solid preceded Soso on stage with a number of Vincy and Caribbean soca hits, led by former St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Junior Calypso Monarch, Man Kemmie, who also represents Team St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Brooklyn-based Caribbean Soccer Cup.

Soso then held the party crowd in paroxysms with “Hand in De Air”; “Diane”; “Big Bottom”; and the signature, monster hit “I Don’t Mind.”

Soso said he began his singing career in the early 1970s with ballads. Later, he joined the popular Vincentian band, Clymax, as lead vocalist, performing at various events at home and in the Caribbean.

In 1978, Soso said he left his native land with Clymax, performing at several night spots and other venues in the New York metropolitan area and other major U.S. and Canadian cities, such as Boston, Massachusetts; Washington, D.C.; Toronto; Montreal; Winnipeg; and Vancouver. He also performed in the United Kingdom.

Popular New York venues, where Soso performed, include Madison Square Garden, Brooklyn College and Radio City Music Hall.

In 1979, Soso said he went solo, recording his first album, “Too Much Corruption.” He is said to have risen to stardom in 1985 with the hypnotic “I Don’t Mind.”