The young artiste beat out his closest rival Benjai (Rodney Le Blanc), last year’s Monarch, Shurwayne Winchester and 12 other finalists to be crowned the 2011 Play Whe Groovy Soca Monarch at the competition held on Friday night at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port-of-Spain.
What has been dubbed as the biggest and best edition of the competition attracted tens of thousands of persons to the venue on Fantastic Friday night. The fight for the $2 million first prize in the bmobile International Power Soca Monarch competition drew so much attention that each section, General, VIP and VVIP, were filled to capacity.
Kees gave a performance worth this first prize when he came on stage to perform in position number 14, despite being scheduled to perform at number four. He began his performance with a video presentation of him, as a game-playing grandson ignoring his grandmother, played by Nikki Crosby, as she asks him repeatedly to complete chores. He ignores his grandmother to look at television and realised after lotto numbers were called he was a millionaire.
On stage he began singing, dressed in a metallic purple jacket and pants. The crowd was eating out of his hands as he had female and male dancers tumbling across stage in a variety of “wotless poses and dances”. As he continued performing, undergoing various stages of undress, he revealed a huge “gold” chain with a dollar sign pendant. Kees brought onstage veteran soca artiste, Lord Nelson, “the original King of wotlessness”, who passed on the crown to the younger artiste. Nelson then unzipped the front of his baby pink romper and had his moment on the Soca Monarch stage.
Two large ladies helped Kees end his performance, stripping off his black jeans, leaving him in a red short pants with one jeans leg still on before they sandwiched him in a dance. While Kees thanked Government and the organisers of the show, Caribbean Prestige Foundation for the Performing Arts, for the $500,000 first prize, he insisted he deserved $2 million for his performance.
While there were some jeers when his name was announced as winner over Benjai, most of the crowd agreed with the outcome. Kees was not at the venue after the competition and calls to his cellphone went straight to the voice mail service.
Second placed Benjai also gave a crowd moving performance playing on the patriotic theme of his song, “Trini” for his performance. Dressing up in his red, white and black, he had performers representing different aspects of Trinidad and Tobago culture on stage, some holding strips of cloth in the national colours. He had the crowd singing the refrain, “Ah’s ah Trini” over and over while he was wrapped in swathes of red, white and black cloth before he ended his performance.
Last year’s winner, Shurwayne Winchester did not place in the top four which were the only results revealed on the night. He played a video presentation of social ills plaguing Trinidad and Tobago, including the recent death of eight-year-old Daniel Guerra. He said while these problems existed, he chose to remember the positives of the country which he explained in his song, “Paradising”. Problems with his microphone however, prevented him from delivering a flawless performance.
These same issues did not prevent the next performer, Destra, from copping third place in the competition. Performing “Cool it Down”, she began the song dressed in a gold dress and a red wig backed by dancers in red bikinis in front of images of buildings in Port-of-Spain on fire.
Two men flooded the stage with nitrogen to cool down the heat and when the smoke cleared dancers emerged in white, the buildings were iced over and Destra came out in an ice cube dressed in a black and silver two piece costume, adorned with black and silver braids. Fourth place went to Blaxx (Dexter Stewart) who had the crowd dancing to his “Tanty Woi”. One of the highlights of the night was seeing the oldest competitor in the category, All Rounder (Anthony Hendrickson) perform his “Body Wine”. Accompanied onstage by his daughters, Shirlaine Hendrickson and Lady Wonder (Dianne Hendrickson), All Rounder came out sporting a blonde Mohawk and a gold bodysuit. He stripped off the top of the bodysuit later on to reveal a netted vest. At one point he had his female dancers lined up to wine over him as he lay flat on the stage floor. He then made his way through the legs of his dancers and his daughters at another point. The audience, which cheered him on stage, looked on in curiosity and wonder during the performance.
This crowd, filled both the open grounds and stands of the venue. At several points the show had to be stopped and emcees pleaded with patrons to come off the field and go into the stands since the ground was filled to capacity. In one instance, security personnel were asked to open all gates to allow the free flow of patrons to all stands to ease up the situation of too many people on the field.
With this large crowd, drinks and eats in the all-inclusive VVIP section were hard to come by. Patrons complained in both VVIP and VIP that water ran out during the Groovy competition and they were served hot drinks as there was no ice as well.
The show was held in honour of the Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar who was in attendance. She received some boos however when she was announced to the crowd. They however applauded when the three celebrity guests were announced: British actor Idris Elba and US actors Wendy Raquel Robinson and Hosea Chanchez.