Friday 28 February, 2020

Single Soca Monarch competition here to stay

Carol Roberts-Reifer does not foresee a switch back to the dual-event Soca Royale anytime soon.

The Chief Executive Officer of the National Cultural Foundation, who spent her first Crop Over Festival in the driver’s seat, has suggested those who have been criticising the move do some inward reflection.

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If an artist has to depend on a competition or competitions in any form, in any structure [to] justify why they create or to earn a living [then] we have a problem.  We have a serious problem,” she said recently in an interview on the national television station, CBC TV 8.

At the end of March this year, the NCF CEO announced that Soca Royale which saw the Sweet Soca and Party Monarch being held at the Bushy Park Racetrack in St Philip would be replaced by a single Soca Monarch competition at a new location – the National Botanical Gardens at Waterford, St Michael.

Roberts-Reifer recounted that in the previous years, artists had openly called for a switch from having the Party Monarch and Sweet Soca competitions being held as one contest. Now, in 2019, when their wish had been granted, she said there was now a similar hue and cry to revert to two competitions.


“The week of the competition, there were artists saying [Soca Monarch] that the competition was skewed in favour of sweet soca songs and one of those persons making that comment became what?  The winner of the competition – with what? A power soca song. 

“I am not saying that there isn’t room for review, because we have to review all of our events.  You cannot produce a festival of this size this magnitude, costing this much, generating this much money, without constant review . . ..  My challenge to the artists is without contention.  Create good music. Gabby was not wrong when he made that song - make good music,” she stressed. 

This year, Michael ‘Mikey’ Mercer, who was last year’s Party Monarch, won the inaugural competition, while the 2018 Sweet Soca Monarch Lil Rick came second.

Sharing her vision for the sector, the CEO said she would like to see at the end of the Festival, artiste “knocking down the NCF’s door” enquiring about opportunities to move their music beyond these shores.

“. . . asking them how are going to export this music?  How are we going to export these works? How are we going to export these artists?  What is next? 

“What can we do with this music?  How much of this music is going to be memorable two weeks later, two months later?  When next can we produce music?,” Roberts-Reifer explained.

She further suggested if the status quo was allowed to remain where for two months out of the year, music is produced, promoted, played and artiste finds work, the sector would become stagnant and of no benefit for those who make a living from it.



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