The reigning Junior Soca Monarch whose stage name is Young Marcel took home last year’s award with his infectious tune “Running Red.”
The Holy Cross College student started his musical career at a very tender age and over the past five years has won titles including the Pathfinder Calypso Competition, the Arima Junior Calypso Competition and Junior Soca Monarch twice and has been to the finals of the International Soca Monarch in 2003 and 2004.
This year, Bennett will be defending his crown and has high hopes of once again claiming the title. But according to him, “I’m not going to be too swell-headed in my approach as I will be starting in the same position as all the other participants and will have to put on a very distinguished performance to take away the prize again.”
Bennett says that it was his father who saw his talent and asked him if her wanted to pursue music professionally. His response was “yes” and “the rest is history.”
Unlike many of the local and indeed international performers who got their start in schools or church choirs, Bennett had a passion for soca music and says “it’s parts of my culture, soca runs through my veins” and dived head-first into the arena.
Since reclaiming the Junior Soca Monarch title last year, the energetic 16-year-old has been hard at work in the studio in preparation for Carnival 2007 and has released two songs for the season called “On and on, the big truck passing” which will be his item in the defence of his title and “Follow me” both of which were produced by Julian Julio-Nelson of MKB Entertainment Studios.
But this form five student is not just concerned about his musical career, he sees education as a major part of his future as he has aspirations of venturing abroad to study entertainment business alongside a bit of music law at the tertiary level.
However, his immediate concern is his upcoming CXC examinations in June that will serve as the stepping stone for accomplishing some of his goals. As a young artiste, Bennett strives to take soca music to the next level in the same fashion as some of his biggest influences like Machael Montano, David Rudder and the Mighty Sparrow.
“These artistes have made their mark on world music in a dramatic way and I can only hope to achieve similar feats and even surpass such accomplishments.”
Many of his songs have been composed by acclaimed writers such as Ronald Forde and Nadia Batson who attempt to infuse social issues like crime and violence into the lyrics as a means of stressing the concepts of peace and unity.
Bennett adds that perhaps the message will be taken in a more serious manner when it comes from the voice of the youth and hopes he can serve as a role model for other children who may have similar dreams or simply want to make a difference.
The youngster owes much of his success in the music industry to his parents, Wendell and Marcia, who have supported him throughout and given him sound advice on making his dreams a reality. And although he carefully analyses that advice, the decision is still his and they support him even if his choices deviate from their suggestions.
But support and positive lyrics are not the only elements that make a success story. The way in which one deals with the stresses and conflicts that come with the industry is perhaps the one point that can determine whether one succeeds or fails.
For Bennett, the fight-down among young artistes is just as harsh as it is amongst the older ones and provides a great challenge that he is very inclined to grasp by the horns, as overcoming such obstacles will only make him a stronger individual. And the advice he has for those with similar aspirations is to “stay humble, focused and always remember to keep God first.”