‘Soca returns to calypso format’

‘Soca returns to calypso format’

Published: Sun, 2011-03-20 20:31
Morel “Luta” Peters

Wine! Wine! Wine! Shake Up Your Waistline! Such commands dominated the soca scene for more than a decade. But, for some, Carnival 2011 signalled a “renaissance in soca.” Gems like Benjai’s Trini, Kees Dieffenthaller’s Wotless and Blaxx Tanti Woi worked partygoers into a frenzy.  A case study for the tremendous response to the panoply of sweet soca might have been the finals of the bmobile International and Groovy Soca Monarch competitions at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo, on March 4. Guardian Media Ltd was the official media sponsor. Soca superstar Machel Montano emerged victorious in the power category and went on to cop the Road March title with Advantage. Accompanied by veteran Lord Nelson, Kees Dieffenthaller proved he was Wotless to a fault in the groovy category. Among those who noticed the “renaissance in soca” was former two-time calypso monarch, veteran calypsonian Morel Peters, fondly known as Luta.

He excelled at the Dimanche Gras competition in 1994 with Kaiso Kaiso and Check The Foundation. He repeated the feat in 2006 with Good Drivin and Licensced Firearm. Peters wasted no time singing praises to soca insisting the soca bards had been returning to the calypso format for their presentations. He said: “We definitely had a good crop of soca this year. The reason is they are returning to the calypso format. The songs had a basic story. They were not too much focussed on wave and jump and wine. The focus was on a story. It’s a great plus for the music.” 

No division between calypso, soca 

At workshops such as Nalis Library, Port-of-Spain, Peters had never stressed any dichotomy between calypso and soca. He had always viewed soca as “a different style of calypso but calypso anyway.”  Peters noted due to the general acceptance of soca, the idea that there was a sharp division between soca and calypso had been put to rest. “I hope more people would be going that way and keeping the calypso element that soared. That’s why I love this year so much. I am happy to see a year when the music on the road and the Soca Monarch did not have to do with jump and wave.” 

Borrowing a line from playwright William Shakespeare, Peters said: “Much ado was made about nothing. I don’t know what they were fighting about. They were trying to get on as though all the music is calypso music.” From New York, composer Alvin Daniell also shared the view “if the music continued in that note, it was poised to go international.” Like Peters, Daniell, too, raised a paean to the “renaissance in soca.” He said: “I really thought it was a lot better in years gone by. There was more emphasis on melody and meaningful lyrics. I think the production too was better...If we continue on that path then we are well on our way to getting the music accepted internationally.”

Consider pan music soca music 

Daniell, who is also a steelpan afficionado, delved into the pan compositions. “The songs that were composed for the pan were of a higher variety. It’s time to stop accepting it as just soca music and stop calling it pan songs. It is really good pan music. We saw more traditional music being classified as pan which means people are looking for good melodies and structure. It means pan music should be given the same respect and airing. A lot of the songs need more exposure,” he said. 


Sprangalang: Groovy soca ruled

Although he was the facilitator at the Kalypso Revue cast, headed by Michael Osuna, at Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain, comedian Dennis Hall (Sprangalang) was wooed by the C2k11 crop of soca music.  Without mincing words, Hall said: “I think the groovy soca was the Carnival music and one of the best groovy soca songs was Benjai’s I’m A Trini. “It was the defining music of the Carnival. I heard children singing the song in San Fernando. I never heard Machel’s song. But the groovy soca was the music of the Carnival. “It means we have to get back to a sense of melodies and rhythm. The groovy soca music propped up the road music. Power soca is going to kill all of us.” But he wasn’t so confident about the direction of the power and traditional calypsoes. 


Support young bards 

Hall said: “I think we have to jump out and protect the young fellas like Kurt Allen and Benjai.  All of a sudden they bringing out rule book and saying calypso has to have three verses.” Harking back to the days when Sparrow (Slinger Francisco) made an impact he said: “People did not say let us leave out Spoiler. Leh we support young boy Sparrow. The people supported whom they liked.”  He said there was the need to support the younger Turks like Benjai. “We need to understand every era has change. Machel has his fans. The young fellas have their own fans. We have a duty to support the youngsters that are coming out,” Hall said. 

He paid kudos to Chairman of Caribbean Prestige Foundation William Munro insisting the man who “sanctioned groovy soca is going to use the music that would tote the road.”  “I did not hear power soca songs on the road.” Hall predicted if there was support for the groovy soca for the next three years then it would mean they were on  the right track. “You heard what they were  saying; you  understood what they were saying and you could have danced to what they  were saying. They kept us happy,” Hall said. 


Benjai interfered with status quo

While he enjoyed phenomenal support and even made it to the finals of the Dimanche Gras competition, Benjai placed last. “I feel is the same judges and them who used to judge soca and put men like Tambu and Crazy last judge Benjai and he came out last. I think is a kind of arrogance because Benjai interfered with the status quo of calypso. They did what they had about their opinion of soca and put him last,” Hall said. Regrettably, he felt they had not they had ignored the salient fact that not “since the days of Naya the young people had not given us a patriotic song.”