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UK Soca Monarch comes to the source
Rodell Sorzano was born at the Port-of-Spain General Hospital 24 years ago but migrated to England in 1998 when he was eight. Today, as Triniboi Joocie, he is the reigning Power and Groovy Soca Monarch of the United Kingdom.
Back home for Carnival, Sorzano said he “maintained roots” with his homeland and its music and culture because he migrated from Trinidad as “a cultural person.”
Reminiscing, he said: “I was one of the youngest pan players in Trinidad before I left, playing for Nu Tones in Arima, and mentored by Clive Bradley. I played with the band as its youngest player the year it won Panorama in 1998 with High Mas. I made all the newspapers then, images I have kept and cherished.
“My mom and siblings took me to England and I continued playing pan for Ebony steel orchestra, the number one steelband in the UK. The pan music has always kept me in touch with Trini culture. I won a performing arts scholarship, due to outstanding grades I achieved in college and studied at De Montfort University in Leicester. I graduated in 2001. Since then I have applied my knowledge, academics and talent to soca music.”
In 2011, Machel Montano and producer Kernal Roberts saw Sorzano performing in London at the Calo Festival and they were impressed. “They invited me to Trinidad that same year to re-record the track I performed. The name of the song was Beast In Me, composed by me. Kernal reproduced the song and I eventually won the Soca Monarch title in the UK in 2012.
“That was a successful stepping stone for me. In addition to concerts across Britain and Europe I also represented T&T in Switzerland at the Paleo Festival, alongside renowned artistes like Tony Rebel and Queen Ifrica.
“Last Carnival, I returned to Trinidad and performed on the Synergy School Tour as well as other events, including Red Edge fete, opening for Bunji Garlin. I was also a frontline artiste for J’Ouvert band Last Band Standing, produced by Marlon Brizan. From the exposure and success of Trinidad Carnival in 2013, when I returned to London I was featured on everything.”
In 2013, Sorzano performed at ten band launchings in London, as well as 11 European carnivals, including Berlin, alongside Kes. He also opened for several acts, including Blaxx, Bunji Garlin, Machel Montano, Ronnie Mc Intosh, Kes, Skinny Fabulous, Marcia Griffiths and Drupatee; and also performed at three Independence celebrations for Barbados, St Lucia and T&T. Last year, Sorzano was the recipient of an award from the T&T High Commission for his contribution to soca music in Europe.
Despite his successes in soca music, Sorzano has not turned his back on his pan prowess. He played with Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars in 2007 and 2008, and remains committed to Ebony in London.
In London, Sorzano intends keeping himself even more busy in 2014. In addition to teaching performing arts at a secondary school, he runs his company—Joocie Camp.
Sorzano explained: “Joocie Camp is a collection of young, talented individuals in the disciplines of dance, acting, music production, graphic design and other stuff.”
Sorzano, who turns 25 on July 16, anticipates a bright future for himself in the arts. “I intend to continue breaking the boundaries by performing soca and composing,” he said.
“My intention is to take soca music where it has never been before, pushing into the mainstream UK market. What I would like to do is ensure that professionalism is maintained at the highest standard.
“For 2014, I am surely going to enter the Soca Monarch competition. My song is entitled Iz We, produced by Josh ‘J Press da Button’ Prescod, mixed and mastered by Precision Production. This song tore up the UK scene and I plan to bring that energy here to Trinidad.”