i112/february 2016 ISSN ISSN1464-7087 1464-7087
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FEBRUARY 2016 | issue 112
36 the roots of trinidad carnival
07 NEWS 19 MUSIC
FOR the past few weeks Trinidad and Tobago has been in the throes of carnival fever, with myriad activities and events leading up to the climax on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
review 32 machel monday celebrates fraternity 4 SN FEBRUARY 2016
Dr Jayâ€™s Top Ten Music reviews Videos Soca on the Web
TRAVEL 15 DESTINATION TOBAGO
Tobago is perfect for the power break. Everyone wants to condense their experiences into a strong formula, to cram everything into a busy schedule.
features 12 Kensington MP stirs up the Notting Hill hornetsâ€™ nest 22 GRENADA marks its 42nd independence day 24 st lucia 37th independence celebrations
26 beautiful by design the commonwealth institue and carnival
38 tobago jazz experience
The 11th Tobago Jazz Experience (TJE) 2016 launched recently, with Third World, David Rudder, Lauryn Hill, 3 Canal, Arturo Tappin, Farmer Nappy and Roy Cape announced as headliners. FEBRUARY 2016 SN 5
ed's letter WELCOME Welcome to the latest issue of Soca News, and believe it or not the first month of the year has already gone. That plate of turkey and pastelles now seems like a blur. February marks the twentieth year for Soca News, which began way back in February 1996 and after all this time we hope still manages to deliver a refreshing mix of editorial content to its readers. Of course, February also heralds the pre-Lenten carnivals. Trinidad Carnival’s season started on Boxing Day, and Dominica’s Mas Dominik culminated on 8 and 9 February. If you weren’t lucky enough to fly off to warmer climates, then start preparing for Dominica or Trinidad carnivals next year - they will take place on 27 and 28 February, 2017. If you are looking to book your next holiday (or combine the two), then check out our feature on ‘Tobago as a Destination’ on pages 15 to 17, plus where to go in our event guide on pages 29 to 30. If you are a carnival organiser, promoter, mas band, steelband, soca sound, community group or other participant who’s feeling left out because we didn’t mention your event, or if you’d like to advertise in the magazine or online, the remedy is in your hands. Get in touch! All our contact details are at the bottom of this page. We are always looking for new writers, and I have been told that everyone has at least one good story in them. If you’re interested in contributing to Soca News, please do get in touch; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s get your name in print. For the month of February we are also giving away free 12 month subscriptions to the magazine, so if you would like to get Soca News delivered direct to your door, email email@example.com with the subject Sign Me Up Free for 12 Months and we will do the rest. For more information about all news and carnival-related events, and to hear and see the latest soca music tracks and videos, go to our website at www.socanews. com
YOURS IN SOCA... Published By Joseph Charles Publishing, 86 - 90 Paul Street, London EC2A 4NE. Telephone + 44 (0) 333 012 4643 Twitter | twitter.com/socanews Instagram | instagram.com/socanews Facebook | facebook.com/socanews Website socanews.com This issue of Soca News was brought to you by: Publisher & Editor Joseph Charles. Sub-Editor Katie Segal Consulting-Editor Stephen Spark. Layout & Design Joseph Charles. Contributors Nicole-Rachelle Moore, Natasha Ofosu, Stephen Spark, Martin Jay & Dr Jay. Photographers Stephen Spark, Shutter In Motion, Cleon Henry, Alana Stanislaus, Jaimol Nottingham & Alana Stanislaus. Thanks to Feminine Touch, Debbie Melchor & Natalie Joseph. The views expressed in Soca News are not necessarily the views of the editor or the publisher. All material contained within this publication is the copyright of Soca News. No material, written or photographic may be reproduced in any way without the written permission of the publisher. No liability will be accepted for any errors which may occur within the magazine.
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Seychelles believes in the power of mas Text | Stephen Spark
Carnivals around the world are facing cutbacks, but Seychelles believes mas makes both friends and money. Since it held the first Carnaval International de Victoria in 2011, the Indian Ocean republic has seen visitor arrivals jump from 194,000 in 2011 to 275,000 in 2015, peaking at Carnival, Easter and the Creole Festival. “That proves that the events-based marketing strategy is working,” said Sherin Naiken, CEO of Seychelles Tourism Board. Minister for tourism and culture Alain St Ange has confirmed the carnival will run from 22 to 24 April. The announcement came after a closely fought presidential election that saw James Alix Michel returned for a third term. Appropriately, this year’s carnival theme is National Unity. President Michel has supported St Ange’s strategy of using the carnival to showcase Seychelles’ own culture and to help other countries promote their tourism attractions. The result is an event unlike any other, as local groups sponsored by the bus company, hotels and a tuna canning factory jump up next to national troupes from
Kenya, Madagascar, China, Italy and Réunion. If you thought Carnival was something only Caribbean islands understand, a visit to Victoria will change your mind. Seychellois groups produce some beautiful and imaginative mas. Now St Ange wants to see more cultural content. “The carnival must be used to tell the story of Seychelles and its people through arts, design and performance of themes that are uniquely Seychellois,” the minister said. He describes the concept as “Searching for the Soul of Seychelles through the Eyes of Carnival”. For many of the 45,000 onlookers, the most eagerly anticipated presentations are from Mauritius, Brazil and London. The Notting Hill Carnival Roadshow Company, led by former NHC boss Claire Holder, always creates a huge impact on the road. The weekend starts on Friday evening with a stage show, continues the next day with the carnival parade and concludes with children’s carnival and prizegiving on Sunday. DJs, food stalls and entertainment can be found all over town on the three days. More details at: http://www.seychelles.travel/ events/carnaval-international-de-victoria FEBRUARY 2016 SN 7
Barbados government goes quiet on republic plan Doubts are growing about the Barbados government’s commitment to republicanism given Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s recent silence on the subject. In mid-December, The Independent newspaper in the UK reported that the government was planning to sever Barbados’ final colonial-era link with Britain by becoming a republic on the 50th anniversary of independence on 30 November. After the arrival of English settlers in 1627, Barbados remained under English, then British, rule until independence in 1966. In 2005, Barbados dropped the Privy Council in London as its final court of appeal, adopting instead the Caribbean Court of Justice, headquartered in Port of Spain, Trinidad. The Privy Council remains the apex court for several Commonwealth countries. Commentators on social media were dismissive of Stuart’s plan, suggesting that there were more pressing issues for the government to address. Any plan to change the constitution requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament. A poll conducted last year by the Barbados Today newspaper, which asked “Do you think it’s time to remove the Queen as Barbados’ head of state?”, found only 24% in favour, with 64% against and 11% saying “Does not matter”. 8 SN FEBRUARY 2016
Dominica turns to T&T to market its tourism Toute Bagai Publishing of Trinidad & Tobago is producing the promotional magazine of the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA). The glossy magazine, Experience Dominica, is aimed at hotel guests and will be distributed internationally, particularly in the UK, France, Germany, Canada and the USA. December’s announcement of Toute Bagai’s involvement also revealed that the Caribbean’s Francophone market is being targeted. The magazine will incorporate some sections translated into French, and a digital publication wholly in French – accessible via a QR code in the printed magazine will be produced too. Toute Bagai’s managing director, Neysha Soodeen, said that Dominica was hoping to attract “new age travellers” – that is, visitors who see themselves not as passive tourists but as travellers who relate more closely to the destination.
St Maarten Carnival goes online Help St Paul’s Carnival rebuild in 2016 Troubled St Paul’s Carnival in Bristol, which had to cancel last year’s event after cuts to funding, is seeking a researcher to report to its newly formed Carnival Commission. Arts Council of England and Bristol City Council are funding the post– worth £4,750 – and the deadline for applications is 12am Thursday 18 February. The researcher is expected to produce a report that will provide “a redefined set of principles and vision for an inclusive African Caribbean Carnival with an annual (all year round) programme of activities hard-wired into the city’s cultural institutions.” They should also provide other insights, such as a new organisational structure for the carnival and “a scalable and sustainable event delivery model” for St Paul’s. The researcher will be appointed on 25 February and will have to deliver their report by 30 March. To apply email firstname.lastname@example.org, with ‘St Pauls Carnival Future’ in the subject line. Or you can contact Marti on 07990 542109.
St Maarten Carnival Development Foundation (SCDF) launched its website at the start of the year and has also introduced an app for Android and iOS smartphones and devices. The website launch coincided with the announcement of the Scotiabank-sponsored festival’s programme. After the Causeway Jump-up on 19 March, six international concerts and 23 further local events fill the calendar from Friday 1 April to the two Grand Parades on 1 and 2 May and the close of Carnival on Tuesday 3 May with the burning of King Momo. A separate Junior Carnival Parade will take place on a shorter route this year, starting somewhat later in the day to avoid the worst of the heat. Another change is that the Junior, Teen, Senior and Mature pageants have been outsourced to an independent organiser, Posh Productions. The international shows include Night of the Hit Makers, Sabor Latino IV, Caribbean Flag Fest II and African Flavour – another innovation for 2016. There will, of course, be calypso and soca competitions and shows, as well as a reggae night. For the keen carnival-goer, the cost-effective way to see all the shows at Carnival Village is a US$250 Carnival Pass, which can be ordered on the SCDF website. Learn more about St Maarten Carnival at www.sxm-carnival.com or www.facebook. com/sxmcarnival FEBRUARY 2016 SN 9
Celebrate! in Portsmouth this April Teachers, youth workers, carnival and street art creators, participants and policy-makers will come together in Portsmouth for two days of Carnivalfocused presentations, debate and networking not forgetting entertainment. On Friday 29 and Saturday 30 April, Carnival Network South is promising a packed programme of conference sessions, workshops, discussions and talks from major figures in the arts and education. A sociable meal and entertainment is promised for Friday evening, while on Saturday a youth carnival showcase and a big screen showcasing carnival highlights from across the region will light up Guildhall Square. There’s still time to propose content, presentations and subjects for discussion. Carnival Network South states: “Carnival and the celebratory arts are hugely positive events for communities and the participants. [They] offer a pathway to further learning, increase awareness and experience of diversity, create a connection between learning and creativity and boost the confidence of participants opening doors to further study and employment.” Delegate passes start at £25 + booking fee. To register, email: email@example.com or find out more at www.carnivalnetworksouth.org. 10 SN FEBRUARY 2016
Miss Barbados UK 2016 finalist announced Finalists for the second annual Miss Barbados UK competition have been announced. The competition, which was first held last year, saw Victoria Small crowned Miss Barbados UK 2015. For 2016, eight finalists have been selected. They will compete on Saturday 7 May at the Tabernacle, Powis Square for the title of Miss Barbados UK 2016. The finalists are; Tamar Small (18), Karina Jemmott (24), Quesha ‘Lin Mei’ Nicholls (29), Amie Mayers (26), Vivienne Braithwaite (32), Rose Goddard (19), Lee-Anne Willoughby (24) & Sheree Miller (19). If you would like more information about the competition or would like to follow the progress of the contestants, please visit www.missbarbadosuk. com.
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Kensington MP stirs up the Notting Hill hornets’ nest Text | Stephen Spark
“All I’m trying to do is make sure that people start talking to one another.” It was a point that Victoria Borwick, MP for Kensington, repeated several times in her exclusive interview with Soca News as she explained the reasoning behind her controversial questionnaire on the future of Notting Hill Carnival. The survey is being distributed to all households in the constituency and will be available online in due course. Responses must be in by 28 February. Borwick is exactly the sort of breezy, down-toearth, no-nonsense Conservative that Margaret Thatcher would have appreciated. Listening to her, you get the impression that there is nothing that cannot be solved by the application of common sense and a good, hard scrub to remove those irritating sensitivities. The passion and defensiveness surrounding Carnival clearly puzzle her. “It does rather horrify me every year that everybody gets up in arms rather than being able to talk about it in a positive way. It’s one of the few subjects in life that seems to engender such hostility on both sides.” It’s time to move on, she insists: “Going on with this historical past, saying ‘Oh well, it’s always been 12 SN FEBRUARY 2016
VICTORIA BORWICK | MP FOR KENSINGTON like that’ it doesn’t do any good any more.” Borwick is certainly not alone in her impatience with the glacial pace of change in the Powis Square lair of London Notting Hill Carnival Enterprises Trust (LNHCET). “I am challenging the organisers; they need to come out of their shells,” she said. “I find it so extraordinary that people hide from what’s happening.” Communication is a problem, she said: “The residents’ associations don’t feel there’s any dialogue. They don’t know who to talk to. Resentment builds up on both sides.” PAY FOR THE DISPLAY The MP is keen to emphasise that she does not want to close down Notting Hill Carnival or move it to a park. The latter was never her intention. It could simply be ticketed on the streets like the New Year’s Eve fireworks display, she explained. She brushed away suggestions that it would be impossible to secure such a vast area with so many points of entry and so many residents – and for two days rather than a couple of hours. There might be some resistance, she admitted: “I’m sure there are some purists who say, no, this is a street festival, it shouldn’t be ticketed.” Borwick, perhaps naively, was surprised by the strength of the reaction to her ticketing suggestion – “I just put it in as a discussion point” – and was cheered by some positive reaction on a radio phone-in. “People phoned up and said ‘Why are we
CARNIVAL PEOPLE | NOTTING HILL CARNIVAL holding it in North Kensington. That’s not where the community is any more, why can’t it be in the streets of…’, and different boroughs were mentioned.” CRIME AND COSTS But what prompted Borwick to take her stick and plunge it into the hornets’ nest of Notting Hill Carnival? “Why I want to have a debate is how to make Carnival safer,” explained. “It’s [Metropolitan Police Commissioner] Bernard Hogan-Howe who asked all of this, not me. Bernard Hogan-Howe went on record saying we can’t go on policing the carnival like this. It’s all very well saying there’s a positive economic benefit for London, but who is going to pay the policing bill? If the carnival organisers can find some other way of funding it all then that’s absolutely fine, but if the police are refusing to police it what are we going to do?” Like a persistent stain, the subject of crime kept reappearing. “I’ve been led entirely by the reports of the police. The Metropolitan Police commissioner brought to the GLA those weapons,” she said. European gangs were operating at the event, she added; “The knives are coming in, I understand, mostly from Europe.” Borwick was at pains to emphasise that she had nothing against the event itself. “Carnival brings tremendous pleasure; it brings tremendous cohesiveness; there are all sorts of very positive things about Carnival.” The trouble is, she observed, “As soon as you
start talking about the carnival, people think you’re anti it.” THE QUESTIONNAIRE The questionnaire itself starts off innocuously enough, with questions about what people like and dislike, whether they attended the event, live on the route or own a business in the area. Then the leading questions start: “The Carnival currently costs over £7 million to police. Who do you think should pay for the majority of this: RBKC Council, the Carnival organisers, sponsorship, charging entry to the Carnival, London taxpayers?” It asks a similar question about the cost of post-carnival street cleaning. Respondents are asked whether it would be better to hold Notting Hill Carnival on the Saturday and Sunday rather than Sunday and Monday, as this, it is claimed, “would significantly reduce policing costs”. The question “What other issues would you like to raise about the Carnival?” is followed by a list of negative subjects: “street drinking, graffiti, antisocial behaviour, traffic, music volume, knife crime, gun crime, pickpocketing, Meals on Wheels, route of the Carnival, street rubbish, urinating in residents; gardens, car parking, moving vulnerable residents, number of floats.” Finally there is that “discussion point”: Ticketing has recently been introduced to help improve safety during New Year’s Eve in London. Would you be in favour of ticketing Notting Hill Carnival?” FEBRUARY 2016 SN 13
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Tobago Text | Shaun Hutchinson
Tobago is perfect for the power break. Everyone wants to condense their experiences into a strong formula, to cram everything into a busy schedule. So despite T&T being at the end of the chain of Caribbean islands, Tobago must be the first choice of the region’s favourite destinations. It’s clear that the pace of development on the island has stepped up, with new and renovated buildings everywhere, serving both tourism and infrastructure. There are several new shopping malls, the continued renovation of ANR International Airport, recently opened Scarborough Library Facility, the Victor E. Bruce Financial Complex and the Scarborough General Hospital. Despite all this development, Tobago retains its essence. Beautiful, dramatic landscapes, traditional architecture, picturesque beaches, and a relaxed atmosphere – it’s the archetypal Caribbean island.
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Described by Tobagonian politician Orville London as the “capital of paradise”, Trinidad’s sister island is just 26 miles long and 8 miles wide (42km × 13km), simple to navigate and enjoying superb weather (average 28 - 30°). For such a small place there’s plenty to do, from sailing, diving, snorkelling and fishing to golf, horseback riding, bird watching, walking tours and mountain biking. Even at a leisurely pace a day is all it takes for an island tour on the Atlantic and Caribbean coastal roads with stop-offs at quaint villages such as Castara, Speyside or Charlotteville, and a return through the world’s oldest nature reserve, dating from 1776. Tobago’s beaches offer no real surprises – just white sand, calm waters, beachside crafts and food stalls, together with the usual water sports. It’s from buzzing Store Bay or nearby Pigeon Point, with its wedding and conference facilities, that excursions depart for the island’s famous Buccoo Reef and Nylon Pool. Capital Scarborough’s pubs and beachside Esplanade with its eateries get lively when cruise ships dock. The colonial-era Fort King George and its informative Museum of Tobago History and the steep slopes of the Botanical Gardens make pleasurable days out. A visit wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Sunday School at Buccoo, which compliments the
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vibrant and buzzy Crown Point with its nightlife, restaurants, the brand-new D’Coliseum Mall, shops and diverse restaurants. Villas and other accommodation can be found across the island, but Crown Point is the magnet for visitors. It is both budget and luxury accommodation, beach and inland, as well as hotel or apartment-based and restaurant or self-catering options. Just-caught seafood – especially crab and lobster – is usually on the menu at hotels, or any of the many restaurants dotted around. Blue Crab in uptown Scarborough is recommended, as well as Basso’s at Pigeon Point for beach-side dining, and belly-bursting fare at Jemma’s Treehouse Restaurant in Speyside. Don’t leave without sampling Tobago’s national dish of crab and dumplings, with callalloo and coocoo on the side (ent!) – best enjoyed with fresh juice, Carib or Stag lager at a Store Bay beachside joint. For a change of pace, the visitor can take a boat or a flight to cosmopolitan and frenetic Trinidad. It’s three hours away by the T&T Spirit from Scarborough and about 45 minutes by air from ANR International Airport. Virgin Atlantic and British Airways visit Tobago twice weekly from Gatwick. From November 2016, Thomas Cook Airlines will also fly to Tobago from Manchester.
TRAVEL TO TOBAGO Flight only from £550 with BA or £555 with Virgin Atlantic
7 NIGHTS PACKAGE MAGDALENA GRAND BEACH RESORT B&B from £949pp BLUE WATER INN B&B from £939pp COCO REEF B&B from £1059pp Based on two sharing LUXURY VILLAS from £859pp based on four sharing and excluding flights CONTACT SN TRAVEL T. 020 7254 0136 E. firstname.lastname@example.org W. www.sntravel.co.uk FEBRUARY 2016 SN 17
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top 10 soca tracks Dr. Jay known as De Soca Prince is a Toronto based DJ who can usually be heard on the airwaves every Sunday night hosting the Soca Therapy radio show. Here are some of his top ten tracks coming out of Trinidad for Carnival 2016
TAKE OVER TOWN
CHEERS TO LIFE
CARNIVAL IS HERE
KES THE BAND
BORN FOR THIS SKINNY FABULOUS
SCENE GBM NUTRON
TRUCK DRIVER SHURWAYNE WINCHESTER
ANYWAY (ROAD MIX) JAIGA
ALLEZ (RE MIX) TEDDYSON JOHN FEAT. BUNJI GARLIN
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music music reviews reviewed by martin jay
This is Austin ‘Super Blue’ Lyons doing what he does best: making feel-good music about the culture of Trinidad and Tobago. We Calypso is produced by Samuel Jack, who has worked closely with Machel Montano and Xtatik and was musical director for the band Atlantik. Super Blue plays tribute to the artform of calypso and many of its contributors with this bouncy tune that, in this ever changing world of music, can be described as pure soca. I often listen to tunes shortly after their release, and try to visualise where in Trinidad could I imagine the artist performing this song and mashing up the place. With this particular song, I can envisage Super Blue absolutely turning Skinner Park in San Fernando upside down for the Calypso Monarch semi final - better known as Calypso Fiesta. I am going to be following the journey of this song quite keenly; I’m very interested to find out where such a song, one which for a purist like myself is so strong and powerful, will do in today’s musical climate. Will the cream rise to the top; will the cream be even added to the cup? We shall see.
A few months ago I was introduced to a new riddim emerging from St Kitts for their carnival, which takes place at the very end of the year – and I was immediately impressed by the sound I was hearing. St Kitts music over the years has had a particular signature to it, which has stifled it, to some degree, stopping it getting international recognition. I initially received four cuts of this riddim, plus the instrumental. Nicha B’s voice stood out for me, and so did his flow on the track Can’t Wait, which incidentally went on to win him the 2015 St Kitts’ Groovy Monarch title. I wouldn’t be surprised if this song featured on many soca DJs playlists over the next six months, as it’s powerful and infectious. Look out also for the remix of this song, which features popular Trinidad and Tobago artist Benjai. The latter has posted on social media that he intends to introduce Trinidad Carnival 2016 to Nicha B, which will be great exposure for the Kittitian artist. A good song on a powerful riddim is a great formula, and that is exactly what we have here.
BUM BUM THIRD BASS
Adrian Hackshaw is better known as radio personality Third Bass - who may be remembered for his 1997 hit, Makin Me High. Well, 19 years later, he has another soca hit on his hands. “If yuh stush go in de bush,” is the extremely popular line from Third Bass’ hit tune, Bum Bum. Produced by the very talented Red Boyz of Barbados, the song was released fairly early as far as 2016 carnival tracks are concerned (mid October), and has gathered momentum since then. What I like most about this song is that the lyrics address some niggling concerns - in a comedic fashion - about how we party these days. Highheeled shoes, fashion parade, and always being on our smart phones are just some of the factors Third Bass refers to. He also suggests that we need to go back to the days of the mid nineties to retrieve that vibe. This is a catchy song that will be one of the favourites of the 2016 Carnival season. It is well produced - you would expect nothing less from The Red Boyz team – and full props goes out to Third Bass for this song, it’s a winner in my book. 20 SN FEBRUARY 2016
soca on the web
SUNDAY 4-7pm Smokey Joe and Danny D, Bang Radio 103.6 (www.wearebang.com).
waiting On the stage machel montano
Mega Mix Show with DJ Cris, www. vibesfm.com (web only).
6-8pm The Caribbean Affair, Martin Jay, bakahnalradio.com (web only). 8-11pm
The Calalloo Show with Digga D, largeradio.com.
different me 5 star akil
10-12pm Bacchanal Vybes of Soca, Soca Devil, RJR 98.3FM (www.radiorjr.com)
Soca City, Mz Tiney Winey, Bakahnal Radio (www.bakahnalradio.com)
drop bombs tizzy
9-11pm Caribbean Sessions Showcase, DJ CJay, www.caribbeansessions. co.uk
SATURDAY 12-2pm Caribbean House Party, Feminine Touch, Supreme FM 99.8 (su premefmlive.ning.com)
chuck gordon feat. fridge
If you have or know of a radio programme that you would like to see included in this section, please email email@example.com with all the relevant information.
House of Soca Farmer Nappy
Soca artist Farmer Nappy (Darryl Henry) has released a new album to coincide with the height of the Trinidad carnival season. House of Soca is a collection of 12 tracks covering groovy and uptempo soca genres. It includes his popular offerings for 2016, Bambilambambilambilambam and Rental as well as My House, the track which spawned the theme of the album and saw him secure first runner-up position at the 2015 International Groovy Soca Monarch contest. Other notable tracks are In Trouble featuring Barbadian soca queen Alison Hinds, Loosen de Chain and Doh Remember. House Of Soca is available worldwide from all major digital retailers.
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marks its 42nd independence day WITH its distinctive gold, green and red flag, the six parish ‘Spice Island’ of Grenada celebrated its 42nd year of independence from Britain on February 7. The former colonial ruler only reigned over this little but mighty country from 1763 to 1974; before that, the French had control of ‘La Grenade’ from 1649 until 1763. Grenada earned its nickname because it is one of the world’s largest exporters of nutmeg and mace. With an estimated population of just over 100,000, Grenada is one of the smallest members of the Commonwealth of Nations, pledging allegiance to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II who remains Head of State. Constitutional reforms are currently underway, though protocol demands that a crowd must stand when a representative of the Queen arrives.
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With the national bird the Grenadian Dove now on a critically endangered species list, Grenadians have more than constitutional reform to think about! That aside, Grenadians of all ages will proudly wear the national colours on February 7, and an official annual parade will take place. February last year saw a tourism rebrand. Moving away from the age-old ‘Isle of Spice’ tagline, the Grenada Tourism Authority offered the simple but effective ‘Pure Grenada’, which the Tourism Ministry said would locate the island as a desirable destination, “Off the beaten path”. The aim was to encourage more members of the diaspora to visit on holiday. Soca News, along with many others, takes time out to wish Grenada a very happy Independence Day, and years of development, peace and prosperity ahead.
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TWIN PITON PEAKS | SAINT LUCIA
37th independence celebrations THE island of Saint Lucia celebrates its 37th year of independence on 22 February and “Lucians” worldwide are preparing for a plethora of events including concerts, religious observations and of course partying! Saint Lucia has a long history of conquest and settlement which began with the native Arawak Indians and ended with the British who finally submitted to the calls for an end to its tight colonial grip in 1979. Historically France and Spain were also involved in battles to claim and occupy the island known as the ‘Helen of the West’, with the French being officially responsible for the first settlement in Soufriere in 1746. Sugar and slavery turned the wheels of commerce on the island until the latter’s abolition in 1838.
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One hundred and twenty years later in 1958, Saint Lucia, like many other Caribbean islands, sought varying measures of autonomy through the ultimately unsuccessful West Indian Federation. A new constitution was enacted in 1967 and remained in place until the British flag was lowered, patriotically supplanted by the new Saint Lucian flag in all its black, blue, white and yellow finery. In the run up to this year’s celebration, the country’s first ever “Mapathon” was launched on January 19th. “Map St Lucia” is a government initiative headed by the Ministry of Public Service, Information and Broadcasting and aims to encourage nationals to map projects of economic and social value and in so doing, offer a better understanding of the country’s landscape.
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BY DESIGN THE COMMONWEALTH
Text | Stephen Spark
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VETERAN MAS MAN LAWRENCE NOEL IN COSTUME AT THE COMMONWEALTH INSTITUTE PHOTOGRAPHER | CARL GABRIEL
YOU saw, and heard, the flagpoles first, fluttering and clattering like cheerful sentinels along Kensington High Street. A path led you over the glassy waters of a pool and under the skirts of a 1960s icon. Then you emerged into a dramatic space, dominated, if you raised your eyes skywards, by a roof that swooped and soared dramatically. Steps took you up into a pre-internet world tour of curiosities. There were tractors and stuffed cows, bottles and boxes of local produce, pictures of smiling locals working in fields, colourful maps of distant lands. The Commonwealth Institute, which the Queen opened on 6 November 1962, was very much of its time. The copper-roofed building, its contents and the ethos that developed it embodied the optimistic spirit that saw a war-battered empire of colonies transformed into what was meant to be a co-operative grouping of independent states. Within a decade, though, Britain’s politicians had tired of the Commonwealth’s troublesome dictators and political firebrands, and cosied up to the UK’s European neighbours. As funding dried up, visitors to the CWI dwindled, the roof leaked and dust gathered on fading exhibits that had hardly changed since opening day. After 40 years of service, the building
CONSTRUCTION UNDER WAY AT THE COMMONWEALTH INSTITUTE PHOTOGRAPHER | FRENCH + TYE
was closed and the Commonwealth Institute tried to get its architectural listing removed so it could be demolished and the valuable land sold for housing. But, like a phoenix, it is rising again. In 1989, as the CWI was entering its era of decline, Sir Terence Conran opened the epitome of Cool Britannia, the Design Museum. It’s become a place of pilgrimage for designers, students, historians and anyone interested in (for want of a better word) stuff – good-looking, well-designed stuff, of course. And now, having outgrown its Shad Thames home, the Design Museum is moving west, into a totally refurbished Commonwealth Institute. It’s a hugely exciting, and eye-wateringly costly, project that should cement Kensington’s place on the global Design map. But, for carnivalists, it’s been there for decades. The CWI was always far more than a museum space. It had a useful reference library, bookshop and education rooms, put on important exhibitions and debates, published books and played a vital role in the development of Notting Hill Carnival, mas and steelpan. It was here in 1971 that Trinidadian mas maestro Peter Minshall designed and costumed Cannes Brûlées, a show directed by Beryl McBurnie to raise funds for the Little Carib Theatre. The fundraising was successful, and in 1975 McBurnie was finally able to open the famous theatre in Port of Spain, 27 years after Paul Robeson had laid the foundation stone. Minshall went on to design mas for Notting Hill – Mas
in the Ghetto (1973), Play Mas, Pierrot (1974), To Hell with You (1975) and Skytribe (1976). The first adult steelband festival was held at the CWI in 1975, and it was in this dramatic space that the Commonwealth Institute Schools’ Steelband Festival took place until the event ended in 1980. In this period, too, the CWI hosted Notting Hill Carnival’s Costume Gala for a number of years. Right up until the doors closed for the last time the CWI put on exhibitions that celebrated Carnival. For example, Mudigras, in 1999, was a bold attempt to marry carnival arts with new technologies. It included a 3D virtual reality animation of a carnival in an abstracted Notting Hill street, workshops explored the concept of freedom and Carnival, while Lost@Carnival was an exhibition based on youth culture and Notting Hill Carnival. Mudigras was linked to an exhibition of Mahogany’s work and a mas camp making costumes for both Notting Hill and Carnival Messiah. Now the Commonwealth Institute building has found its own saviour, and the Design Museum will open in this beautiful space later on this year. Soca News hopes that, in Notting Hill Carnival’s golden jubilee year, the museum will recognise the building’s longstanding links with Carnival, especially mas design. MORE DETAILS ON THE COMMONWEALTH INSTITUTE CAN BE FOUND AT: NEWDESIGNMUSEUM.TUMBLR.COM
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SOCA FRENZY REVELLING IN RED VALENTINES MAS
@ The Scala, 275 Pentonville Road King´s Cross, N1 9NL. Music By Shaker HD, DJ Tate, Triple M & Matchiz. Price £8, £10, £15, £20 & £25. Time 11pm 5am. Tel 07950 949 932.
DJ TATE & TRIPLE M
D'REMEDY-D' LOCK & KEY
@ Protocol, 6 South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, SW8 1SP. Music By DJ Tate, Triple M, Supa Nytro, DJ Cinde Rella & DJ Ras Kenny. Price £10 & 15. Time 10pm - 5am. Tel 07770 729 988
You are strongly advised to check with the event promoter, as details sometimes change and cancellations may occur; all information was correct at the time of going to print.
D.A CONNECTIONZ & RNR WINE BAR
RED & BLACK VALENTINES SEWO JAM @ RnR Wine Bar, 225 Chingford Mount Road, Chingford, E4 8LP. Music By DJ Red Boy, D Crazy One, DJ Frisko & Mr Wotless. Price £5, £8 & £10, motd. Time 10pm - 4am. Tel 07984 479 317
CANDY MAS & RELEASE D RIDDIM
RED ON THE RIVER - A VALENTINES BOAT RIDE
@ The Herlingham (Tower Millennium Pier), Tower Millennium Pier, London, EC3N 4DT. Music By Big Business, Allmighty Soundz (Jah Eyez & DJ Remstar), Credable, Mr Hardwine & DJ Bliss. Price £25 & £30. Time 1pm - 8pm.
KRASSROAD ENTZ ALONGSIDE THE DRUM
SOCA CENTRAL-SOAK IT @ The Drum, 144 Potters Lane, Birmingham, B6 4UU. Music By DJ Ratty, DJ Spice (UK) & DJ Iceberg. Price £8, motd. Time 9pm - 4am.
SOCAHOLIC & UCOM
@ Ruby Blue, 1 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BP. Music By DJ Chris Vee, Mr Bacchanal, DJ Knightz Beatz & Mr Hype. Price Free before 8pm, £5 thereafter. Time 6pm - late.
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events KEY:  = OVER 18 & ID WILL BE REQUIRED | BF = BOOKING FEE
UNITY OF UK ST LUCIAN ASSOCIATIONS
BUSSPEPPER PROMOTIONS LTD
@ Club Reina, 85 Charterhouse Street, Farringdon, EC1M 6HJ. Price £5, £10, £12 & £15. Time 10pm - 5am. Tel 07946 330 145
@ Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury, Coram Street, WC1N 1HT. Music By Super Trini, Martin Jay & DJ Rolo. Price £50 (Dinner, Comedy show, costume presentation & After Party), £15 (On the Door for After Party Only). Time 6pm - 2am. Tel 07950 407 199.
SAINT LUCIA 37TH INDEPENDENCE CELEBRATION FUNDRAISING DANCE
@ Stratford Town Hall, 29 The Broadway, Stratford, E15 4BQ. Live Acts Intense Force Band. Music By DJ Mosty, DJ Smiley Variety & DJ Jon JE. Price £20 & £25. Time 8pm - 3am.
#SHELLINGZ BLACK OUT FETE - THE LAUNCH PARTY!
BUSSPEPPER PROMOTIONS LTD
@ Nomad, 58 Old Street, EC1V 9AJ. Live Acts Triniboi Joocie. Music By C Jay, Danny D & Super Trini. Price £10 & £15, motd. Time 10pm - 5am.
@ reveloutiomn, 140-144 Leadenhall Street, London, EC3V 4QT. Price £10 & £20 + BF. Time 10pm - 4am.
DAME DU SHOW PRODUCTIONS
DEJA VU – RELIVE CARNIVAL
@ Prohibition,33 Crutched Friars, London, EC3N 2AE. Music By Shep Beats, QT 2Hype, DJ Cinde Rella (Dame Du Show) & DJ Alitwizt (Dame Du Show). Price £10. Time 10pm - 2am. Tel 07967 738 419.
CARIBBEAN NIGHT AFTER WORK LIME
@ The Cock Tavern, 125 Kilburn High Road, NW6 6JH. Music By DJ VJ. Price Free entry. Time 6pm - 12 midnight.
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CARIBBEAN RHYTHM PROJECT
@ The Tabernacle, 35 Powis Square, W11 2AY. Live Acts Guitarist Cameron Pierre along with virtuoso Trinidadian keyboardist Felix Ruiz will be presenting a programme of early calypso music. The music of Kitchener, Chalkdust, The Mighty Sparrow, Shadow, and many more will be performed by some of the country’s finest musicians. Price £15. Time 7.30pm. Showtime 8pm.
TROPICAL RADIO & TV
SOCA EXPLOSION GLOW YORKSHIRE
@ The Yorkshire Lounge, Huddersfield, HD2 1YZ. Music By Mr Wotless, DJ Tate, Soca Scorcher & Roots Man Skin Head. Price £8. Time 10pm - Late.
FANTASY OF THE DEEP
THE ORIGINAL EASTER MONDAY FETE
@ The Scala, 275 Pentonville Road, London, N1 9NL. Featuring Live Tallpree, Sekon Sta & Triniboi Joocie. Backed by a Live Band. Music By The Smokey Joe Roadshow. Price £15 in advance. Time 6pm Midnight. Tel 07956 223 247.
MINGLE - THE ALL WHITE EDITION
@ Cavendish Banqueting Suite, Edgware Road, NW9 5AE. Music By DJ Tate, DJ Bones, QT 2Hype, Shaker HD, Matchiz & DJ Bajie. Time 10pm - 4am. YOU ARE STRONGLY ADVISED TO CHECK WITH THE EVENT PROMOTER, AS DETAILS SOMETIMES CHANGE AND CANCELLATIONS MAY OCCUR; ALL INFORMATION WAS CORRECT AT THE TIME OF GOING TO PRINT.
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machel monday celebrates fraternity
The idea that Machel Montano’s ‘Monk’ alter ego has anything to do with piety and restraint collapses in a pool of absurdity when you consider his lyrics and stage shows. Text | Natasha Ofosu
More credible and certainly evident at his Machel Monday concert on 1 February 2016 was the fraternity he shared with the artistes whom he hosted on stage at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain. What those chosen ones expressed in return was a respect and appreciation for him as an elder, guide and facilitator in the soca industry. Ravi B opened the show just after 8.30pm with his band Karma featuring co-singers Krystal Kayne and Abbyshi Jackson. Their repertoire included soca, chutney-soca and a hint of pop. The band had a clean sound and were generally
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well-received. They provided strong backing for St Lucia’s Teddyson John who is enjoying a dream debut Carnival season in Trinidad with the anthemic Allez. Barbadian Party Monarch and Road March king Peter Ram also performed with Karma and delivered a polished rendition of his hit song All Ah We. Cloud 5 were Karma’s final guests. Sporting possibly the tightest jeans of the night, the Grenadian duo gave a boisterous performance of No Behaviour (Whole Place Shell Down). Montano took to the stage with a flourish of smoke and confetti sometime after 10pm. He introduced
himself with a mix of 2016 songs including Waiting on the Stage, his Road March contender, and Human on the Ti Punch rhythm as well as hits from the recent past such as Like Ah Boss, Pop Ah Bottle and Haunted Feeling. Reigning Groovy Soca Monarch Olatunji Yearwood was the first guest to join Montano for their duet Where Iâ€™m From. Both singers had fun with Olatunji doing some comical antics at times. Montano then left him to sing his competition-winner Ola and his 2016 offering Afro Soca solo. That set the pattern for the rest of the night as Montano did duets with most artistes before allowing them space to do their own songs. With performances from no less than 20 local and international acts, including Angela Hunte, Voice,
Patrice Roberts, Kerwin Du Bois, Omi, Skinny Fabulous, Lil John, Tarrus Riley and Pitbull, the show threatened to be difficult to digest. However, the segments were tightly orchestrated and appeared well-rehearsed, which ensured proceedings flowed smoothly and were palatable. One technique used was to have artistes on the same rhythm follow each other as happened with M1 and Salty on the RR Rhythm who sang Trouble and Girl Meets Brass respectively. Nigerian Afro-Beats singer Timayaâ€™s latest collaboration with Montano, Better Than Them, paved the way for Morvant-born dancehall artiste Pternsky to perform Non-stop and Charly Black from Jamaica to sing Party Animal, all of which are on the Jambe An rhythm. Some standout moments included the
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appearance of 2016 Junior Soca Monarch Aaron Duncan. His command of the stage as well as the theme of his tune Can You Feel It were so reminiscent of a young Montano, that the elder singer joked that it may be the right time for him to retire. The moment set Montano up neatly to segue into an abridged version of Too Young To Soca, the song that brought him to the public’s attention 30 years ago. The biggest talking point and surprise of the night, however, was the resurrection of 1980s reggae sound system Chinese Laundry featuring radio impresario Tony Chow Lin On, who bears the same stage name as the system, and DJ Signal to Noise (Joel Morris). With Laundry handling the microphone and Signal on the turntables, the duo energised the crowd with dubplates and live performances by Jamaican special guests Wayne Wonder, Cutty Ranks and Chaka Demus and Pliers. More DJs followed when Montano was joined by Assassin, DJ Stephen and Private Ryan to explore his back catalogue, running through hits from Music Farm and Torro Torro to We Not Giving Up and Get Mad. 34 SN FEBRUARY 2016
Montano then celebrated his Road March winning tracks during an acoustic set with the man responsible for penning them singer and musician Kernal Roberts. Tunes such as Band of the Year, Advantage, Pump Yuh Flag and Jumbie were slowed down and pared back as Roberts played them on a grand piano. They also sang It’s Carnival, which easily rates as one of the best road songs never to have won the Road March. Now a solo artiste, Roberts performed his 2016 offering Legacy before Montano brought the tempo up to close the show. Montano made a point throughout the night of highlighting the younger guests as ‘the future’ of soca music. While he revealed that at 41 years old, it was not easy for him to do what he does (and as if to prove the point he even showed the audience his bandaged right knee) the scale of his concert and the proliferation of his music show he has no intention of slowing down. Machel has also made it three out of three wins by capturing the 2016 National Road March title in Trinidad and Tobago with Waiting on the Stage which was played 328 times at carnival judging ponts.
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Trinidad Carnival of
Text | Nicole Rachelle Moore
FOR the past few weeks Trinidad and Tobago has been in the throes of carnival fever, with myriad activities and events leading up to the climax on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. But what is Carnival? What are the ingredients that make up this bold, colourful and expressive manifestation of the twin island republic’s creativity and imagination? History underpins all aspects of Carnival, despite differing ideas as to how and when it all began. The coloured and white French (‘French creole’) population in pre-emancipation 19th-century Trinidad celebrated the end of a season of feasting and merrymaking with its exclusive carnival. With the help of costuming and masks, the festival allowed them to embrace fantasy and break the boundaries of class and colour. It was a carnival of antithesis, in other words playing the opposite in fantasy of what one 36 SN FEBRUARY 2016
was in reality. White men would ‘play mas’ as negues jardins (field slaves). It was a season of bacchanalia and excess, which preceded the onerous efforts of self-denial during the Catholic period of Lent. By the 1840s, the French Creoles had largely retreated from the celebrations as they became increasingly agitated and scandalised by what many in their ranks regarded as the “vilest of the vile…” The slave population of Trinidad and Tobago had been largely left out of carnival activities, although they had stubbornly, often surreptitiously, preserved their African traditions of masking and music, both percussive and vocal. Emancipation, when it came on 1 August 1834, saw ex-slaves celebrating their freedom with abandon and energy. They did so using masquerade, such as ‘playing the Devil’ (showing up the wickedness of the slave master), ‘Jab Molassie’ (showing up the iniquity of the sugar trade) and ‘Midnight Robber’ (derived from the tradition of the African griot/storyteller), among others. Costumes often included appliqué, bells, chest plates, crowns and feathers in their make-up, and would have had spiritual significance emanating from African traditions that linked these artefacts to the supernatural world. It was these costumes that would come to characterise masquerade in the small hours of Carnival Monday, known as J’Ouvert – from Jour Ouvert, opening of day. The hellishness of slavery and the folkloric characters combined to form much of the costumed theatre that took to the streets. Over time, the
displays became more thematic on Carnival Tuesday, with costumes methodically designed to convey elements of geography, history or nature, or even to portray aspects of popular films. Trinidad and Tobago’s carnival is drenched in its history of cultural appropriation, blending, expression, retention and many other ingredients, which has all gone into making its roots deep and unshakeable. Carnival is culture, and culture cannot be stopped. As the song says, “Doh stop de carnival!”
CARNIVAL 2017 WILL TAKE PLACE ON MONDAY 27 AND TUESDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2017. PUT THE DATES IN YOUR DIARY. YOU CAN BOOK YOUR TICKET FROM THE END OF THIS MONTH.
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TOBAGO JAZZ EXPERIENCE Text | Shaun Hutchinson
THE 11th Tobago Jazz Experience (TJE) 2016 launched recently, with Third World, David Rudder, Lauryn Hill, 3 Canal, Arturo Tappin, Farmer Nappy and Roy Cape announced as headliners. Chairman John Arnold also revealed at the Scarborough Library Facility event that another globally known artiste will soon be announced. Since 2005, the Tobago Jazz Experience (TJE) has been enhancing Tobago’s local music scene annually with the sounds of jazz and related music. Over a nine-day period each April Trinbagonians, tourists and music-lovers from afar converge on Tobago to enjoy jazz, world beat, salsa, Latin, R&B, soca, reggae and other genres of contemporary music. TJE’s previous performers have included Dionne Warwick, Sean ‘P Diddy’ Combs, Stevie Wonder in 2005, the O’Jays, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Elton John (controversially), Rod Stewart and John Legend. The 2015 edition saw Miguel, Jennifer Hudson, Kool and the Gang and Jill Scot, alongside soca artistes David Rudder, Machel Montano, Farmer Nappy, Olatunji, Patrice Roberts, Oscar B, Shurwayne, Kes the Band and Fya Empress. Auditions for Tobagonian performers will soon be under way. Division of Tourism and Transportation
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Secretary Tracy DavidsonCelestine recently highlighted the importance of the event in enabling local artistes to share a platform with world stars and for Tobago’s enterprises to benefit from the many visitors to the island. The Festival takes place between 16 and 24 April, providing ample time for visitors to enjoy Tobago’s strong cultural heritage, culinary delights and history, together with its unforgettable landscape, ambience, good company and excellent vibes. • For more details about Tobamore details about go,For email: contact@visittobago. Tobago, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Details about TJE can be tobago.gov.tt. Details about found at: www.tobagojazzexpeTJE can be found at: www. rience.com tobagojazzexperience.com
2016 ARTISTS LINE UP
THIRD WORLD DAVID RUDDER LAURYN HILL 3 CANAL ARTURO TAPPIN FARMER NAPPY ROY CAPE
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