Soca sensation Machel Montano to bring carnival vibes to The Apollo

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

The Apollo Theater in Harlem said on Friday that it was “thrilled to present” the King of Soca, Machel Montano, for the Labor Day weekend on Aug. 30.

“Known for his chart-topping hits and electrifying performances, Montano is set to bring the vibrant energy of carnival to Harlem,” the theater said. “This event promises to be an unforgettable evening of music, culture and community.

“Montano’s iconic hits and high-energy stage presence pack stadiums full of loyal fans,” it added. “Audiences will have the rare opportunity to experience Machel’s fusion of traditional soca rhythms and contemporary sounds up-close in The Apollo’s Historic Theater, reflecting Montano’s mission to bring soca music to mainstream audiences across the globe.”

Montano’s career began in 1982 at seven; at nine, he formed his band, Pranasonic Express.

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 young performer appeared on the popular television show, Star Search, bringing soca music to US national television.

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 the age of nine. He was billed as a support act for the Mighty Sparrow and other top calypsonians.

In 2008, Montano was awarded three titles, including the Bob Marley Award Entertainer of the Year at the International Reggae and World Music Awards (IRAWMA) at the historic Apollo Theatre.

That year also found Montano receiving an award at the 1st Annual BET J Virtual Awards for Best Caribbean Artiste of the Year.

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

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 May 2010, Montano, as special guest artiste for the US shows, embarked on a five-week tour with International Recording Artiste, Pitbull on his Mr. Worldwide Carnival tour.

Montano returned to Trinidad and Tobago carnival in 2011 after being absent in 2010.

“The Return” concert was a return to the National Stadium to a sold out audience to witness the mother of all Machel Montano events. His return to the competition was spectacular where he emerged the Power Soca Monarch Champion 2k11 and also captured the prize for best presentation.

The climax was his victory in the Road March. On the heels of carnival, he returned to Madison Square Garden in March 2011 another sold-out event.

In 2012, Montano became a Triple Crown Winner, by winning the Groovy Soca Title and International Power Soca Monarch competitions. Carnival 2013 saw Montano successfully defending his 2012 crown in the Power Soca Monarch (joint winner) and Groovy Soca Monarch.

Carnival 2014 brought Montano continued success having won the Power Soca Monarch title with the hit “Ministry of Road” and further went on to take “Ministry of Road” all the way to Road March supremacy.

“Ministry of Road” yielded even more success for Machel, as after being nominated twice for a Soul Train Award without a win, he brought home the award in November 2014 for Best International performance with “Ministry of Road.”

Montano began 2015 with a bang after he successfully defended his Power Soca Monarch title for the fifth time with the infectious song “Like Ah Boss,” which also won the coveted Road March title. In 2016, he again won the Road March with his song “Waiting on the Stage” ft. Badjohn Republic.

He also performed in front of the biggest audience of his life at Coachella 2016 on the main stage as a guest of Major Lazer – a performance witnessed by over 100,000 live and hundreds of thousands more online.

In 2018 and 2019, Montano won back-to-back Road Marches with “Soca Kingdom,” a collaboration with one of his heroes, Soca legend, Super Blue, and then with “Famalay,” a collaboration with Skinny Fabulous and Bunji Garlin.

In 2018, Montano received an Honorary Doctorate in the Arts from The University of Trinidad and Tobago.

In 2021, Montano was inducted in to the Young, Gifted & Black Caribbean Music Entertainment ICON Hall of Fame and received an award from Harvard University’s Caribbean Club for Entertainer of the Year.

In 2017, Montano trained at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat Bahamas, completing their Gracious Living 4-Day Detox and Therahealing Basic and Advanced DNA Training.

Montano has only been involved with the Isha organization for a short time, but since 2018 he has completed Inner Engineering Online, Inner Engineering in California & Bhava Spandana in Tennessee with Sadhguru himself. He has also done their Yogasanas & Shoonya programs.

Montano said he “constantly working” toward his mission of successfully ushering soca into the realm of mainstream music.

He has toured extensively throughout out world to fulfill this mission. He has been pushing the envelope, trying to revolutionize soca and improve its quality.

While it is very difficult to bring this music to the mainstream and, at the same time, stay grounded at home, he has created a sound that he believes is “palatable to all markets and can play on the radio in rotation with other popular songs and genres.”

Montano said it is his dream to see soca being enjoyed in the international market.

He said “the mission continues” and that he is “poised and focused on spreading soca music throughout the globe.”

Starting time for the Apollo show is 9 p.m. on Aug. 30. Doors open at 8 p.m.

The Apollo’s Historic Theater is located at 253 W 125th Street, New York, NY 10027.

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