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There was absolute certainty from a crowd of thousands at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday night when host Marc Anthony’s clear voice asked patrons who had won the Groovy Soca Monarch competition. In convincing unison, the entire stadium thundered out one name: “Kerwin!” (Kerwin Du Bois) and after a performance that was charged, well choreographed and exciting, the judges displayed total agreement.
Du Bois’ performance turned out to be “too real” for the previous reigning Groovy king, Machel Montano. Montano had held the Groovy crown firmly for the past three years, taking it from Kees Dieffenthaller in 2011. The International Soca Monarch competition began with performances from Ravi B, followed by Mr Famous and Erphaan Alves, but the crowd started displaying energy when St Vincent’s Skinny Fabulous (Gamal Doyle) demanded that they show him their worst behaviour.
Destra Garcia stood out vocally with her performance of First Time. While Grenada’s Tallpree delivered a crowd-pleasing performance, it wasn’t until Farmer Nappy (Darryl Henry) came onstage that the competitive atmosphere heightened. Performing in position nine, Farmer Nappy was introduced by a short video from the Mighty Sparrow, with the words, “This is a Big People Party.”
Ballroom dancers two-stepped across the new Soca Monarch stage, which had been altered to include a narrow extension jutting through the crowd. Farmer Nappy, like almost all of the artistes, walked out onto the extension, bringing a close-up experience to patrons nearest the stage. Around 12.15 am, Du Bois’ name was announced and the crowds screamed.
During his five-minute performance he said he was born to win the competition this year. When he finished and exited the stage, fans called on him to return: “Kerwin! Kerwin! Kerwin!” During Montano’s presentation, he brought his three children on stage and the Mighty Sparrow, who was rolled on in a chariot and stood waving as he sang Montano’s lyrics. While fans cheered, it was clear that Montano’s tactics could not beat Du Bois’ reception.
Power Soca Monarch
1 Machel Montano
2 Destra Garcia, Neil Iwer George and Mr Killa (Hollice Mapp)
Groovy Soca Monarch:
1 Kerwin Du Bois
2 Machel Montano
3 Farmer Nappy