“We are looking forward to winning Road March. Who doesn’t? The cake was there, this win (Soca Monarch title) is the icing or as we say in Trinidad “ice-ning” and then the cherry, we looking for the cherry,” said Ancil Isaac Jr or “Blaze” as he is popularly known. Together with Jason Williams, known for years in the entertainment circuit as “JW”, the two copped the title of the 2010 Power Soca Monarch garnering 86 points and defeating 2009 champion, Fay Ann Lyons-Alvarez who came second in the competition with 64 points. As part of their winnings, the pair walked away with $630,000, considerably less than the $1 million awarded last year.
Speaking to reporters after celebrating on stage with their supporters when the results were announced, the duo expressed disbelief that they were the winners. They were quick to express their sincerest gratitude to their fans who they say were the ones to put their song, “Palance”, where it is. The song was released late last year and has gained momentum since then. It has been in constant rotation on several radio stations and has been featured in Carnival-themed advertisements.
“We have won the hearts of the people and I am very grateful. I think the people took ‘Palance’ to the next level. It was a fantastic victory and what made it even more fantastic was that it was a victory for the people because when the results were announced, there was not a sad face in the whole venue, everybody was happy, it was pure celebration,” JW said.
Unlike some of the dramatic and elaborate performances given by their competitors, JW and Blaze chose to keep the focus on their song. “We did not want to take away from exactly what we wanted to bring forward which was our performance, our energy, our chemistry on stage and we kept it wholesome, we kept it fun just like our music video,” JW said, with Blaze adding, “At the end of the day, we let the song speak for itself, the song has a voice and you have to let it speak for itself.”
This is not the first foray into the Soca Monarch competition for the popular announcers on Red 96.7 FM who made it to the finals in 2007 with the song “Eat ah Food”. For the performers however, this victory is part of a journey that began for them as patrons in the competition, which began in 1993. JW explained, “We have seen the Soca Monarch from a very holistic point of view. We were patrons back in the 90s and then in the 2000s we came on as MCs, we both actually emceed the Soca Monarch for a number of years, we actually brought the results forward and now we come full circle as competitors and we actually won it.”
Blaze explained although they entered the competition, “Palance” was intended to be for entertainment only. “A lot of people ask us if we did the song for the perpose of winning Road March, or winning Soca Monarch or winning anything but we just did the song for fun. We brought the idea to Kernel Roberts, he wrote it, we heard it, we sang it with love and that was it, the rest is history.”
Aside from the Soca Monarch win, JW expressed optimism that the song will be remembered for much more. “I think Palance is part of the social and cultural fabric. That word is going to stay with us forever so we give thanks for that.”
Fay Ann was not present for the announcement of results as she had to keep up with her hectic schedule for the Carnival weekend. The soca superstar was also unavailable for comment yesterday as calls to her mobile phone, went straight to voicemail. After twelve performances, the winners were announced and despite strong support for Fay-Ann’s well received portrayal of her song, “True Lies”, the entire crowd cheered and celebrated with JW and Blaze as they came on stage to acknowledge their new title as Power Soca Monarch.
The night was filled with local and regional talent, artistes who put their best foot forward in an attempt to capture the crowd. Although there were originally 13 competitors, Neil “Iwer “George, who was expected to perform at position number ten, was a no-show. Officials backstage, as well as Iwer’s business partner, Super Jigga TC, (also a competitor) told reporters that the “big man in the business” was unwell and could not make it to perform.
The top four performers each had the crowd eating out their hands, despite the overwhelming support for JW and Blaze. Crowd reaction for Fay Ann’s second placed performance was instant; chants of “Fay Ann” were heard as soon as one of the announcers began introducing the 2009 champion. Dressed in a black body-suit airbrushed in silver and completed with silver and black attachments, the former queen looked like a strong female warrior staring out at the frenzied crowd. Aside from her usual dancers and props, Fay Ann wowed the crowd with her special “vehicle” which had the ability to transform. She declared onstage that she is no longer Fay Ann but the world’s first female transformer.
Grenadian soca star, Wilt Cambridge, better known as Tallpree, came fourth and was the best of the regional performances. Tallpree came on stage in an all white suit, following a re-creation of a J’ouvert morning scene with masqueraders smeared with black paint looking on as Jab Jabs cracked their whips at each other. Stephenson Marshall and Richard Barrington, known by their stage names, Shal Marshal and Screws, had the crowd moving with their performance of “Police”, when they created on stage a soca courtroom presided over by her honour, Judge Denise “Saucy Wow” Belfon as part of a special edition of “Law and Order: Soca Victims Unit”. They placed third.